For starters, Twins pitching has been ‘phenomenal’ for nearly a month

Published 8:10 am Friday, May 10, 2019

By La Velle E. Neal III

Star Tribune

How dare Kyle Gibson mess things up for everyone else.

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The righthander is a veteran who should understand situations and pitch accordingly. The Twins, after all, have standards. So what he did on Wednesday against the Blue Jays was utterly unacceptable.

He gave up a run. Bad, Gibson, bad.

Obviously, it’s quite the opposite. Billy McKinney’s home run to right field in the fifth inning produced Toronto’s only run of the three-game series. It actually raised the rotation’s ERA in May from 1.40 to 1.41. It also lifted its ERA ever so slightly since becoming a five-man rotation.

Since Martin Perez joined the rotation on April 15, the unit has a 3.08 ERA and is one of a few reasons why the Twins woke up on Friday with the best record in major league baseball.

“We’ve had several of our guys string together some really nice runs,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “As a whole, our pitching has been phenomenal. There have been games in which they have taken the game in their hands and won the game for us and kept us in many, many other games. If we can keep this going, we’re going to be OK.”

Can’t ask for much more

Staff ace Jose Berrios has a 2.77 ERA since April 15, which includes seven shutout innings on Tuesday against Toronto. But he’s not the only one pitching like an ace since the five-man rotation came together.

Jake Odorizzi, who’s mixing in sliders and cut fastballs more than ever, has a 1.11 ERA since April 15. Named American League Player of the Week on Monday, Odorizzi will start Friday at Target Field against the Tigers.

“Everything has played up a little bit now that I feel more correct with my mechanics,” said Odorizzi, who is 4-2 with a 2.78 ERA. “It’s helped out my offspeed stuff. My fastball’s got a little more life to it.”

Gibson has a 3.07 ERA since April 15, with 28 strikeouts and just three walks in 24 innings. That includes a career-high 11 strikeouts on Wednesday.

Michael Pineda has been the one who has struggled, posting an 8.53 ERA over the same period. He’s worked to get his slider back to an acceptable level. And he’s paid the price for moments when his control escaped him.

Twins pitching coach Wes Johnson, however, hasn’t forgotten that Pineda is in his first season following Tommy John surgery in 2017. So his process is different from the others.

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