Note: The diary, scheduled to run the rest of the season, will take its rightful place lower in the blog after this week. Just wanted to get some interest going for the first one. Next week it'll be time to take on the Legislature for its inaction. Unless . . .
Saturday, May 4 — The Curse of Yankee Stadium continued last night as center fielder Byron Buxton missed a fly ball, first baseman C. J. Cron dropped an on-target throw, and the Twins gave up three unearned runs in a 6-3 loss, their ninth straight in the Big Apple. And it came against what is basically a Triple A lineup, the Yanks missing their whole starting outfield and part of their infield (13 players on the injured list). It was a very sloppy game for Minnesota, even with many in the lineup who have never played for the Twins during their two-decades-long struggle in New York.
This morning there are those who say nothing has changed. "They just can't beat the Yanks," or other versions of that statement, was the common response last night and this morning. And it's hard to argue with that feeling after a game like that. I'm willing to see what tomorrow brings before saying the curse has continued.
Sunday, May 5 — Three homers and a brilliant performance by pitcher Jake Odorizzi (2 hits, 0 runs, 8 strikeouts in 6 innings) keyed a 7-3 win over the Bronx Bombers, wiping out - at least for a day - the idea that the Twins can't win in New York. (Minnesota has a 10-2 record this season in games after a loss.) It was, however, the first win in New York since June 2016.
It was the second straight good performance by Odorizzi, a big disappointment last season. Can he be for real? Is Martin Perez (now 4-0) for real? If they both are, the chance of the Twins staying in the race are much better. I'm trying not to get too high, though, after ONE win in the last 15 games at The Stadium.
Monday, May 6 — We should've known better. It's one win in 16 games now. The Yankees, with a rookie pitcher on the mound, beat Minnesota 4-1 in a game yesterday that ended in the eighth inning because of rain. The boys managed only four hits. It was an ugly night, weather wise. The Twins have played 13 of their first 32 games where the temp at game time was 49 or lower, including three when it was in the 30s.
So, which camp are you in today? The one that says it's the same old thing with the Yankees, or the one that says Minnesota is going to have a great season and the 1-2 showing in New York City was just part of the deal in a season that includes 162 games? It was a good time to play the Yanks, with their whole outfield of Stanton, Hicks and Judge (92 homers last season) missing, as well as shortstop Gregorius (27 homers last year). But it didn't help. So far this year the Twins have followed a bad game with two or three good ones. Let's hope that's the case in Toronto.
Tuesday, May 7
Everything is right with the world this morning after Martin (pronounced Marteen) Perez continued his dominant pitching in a 8-0 win at Toronto. He gave up two hits in seven innings and struck out nine. He has a 5-0 record and has given up an average of a run and a half since joining the starting rotation on April 15.
The Twins hit three homers, including No. 4 by Jason Castro who hit one in 19 games last season before going down with an injury. Is that an omen for 2019? The Twins had 12 hits, Toronto 3.
And proving that old saying that perception is reality, a caller on the new postgame show on WCCO Radio had this question: "They have the same guys as last year. Can a new manager really make that much difference?" The 'CCO host mentioned that there were a few different players. I wanted to tell the caller that the whole infield is new (shortstop Jorge Polanco missed the first 80 games because he was suspended) from the 2018 Opening Day lineup. And Nelson Cruz (203 homers the last five years, most in the majors) is the new DH. Byron Buxton was a total washout in center field in 2018 (28 games, .156 average) and Castro, the starting catcher, played in only 19 games. Maybe the caller is a casual fan. Or maybe he's related to Rocco Baldelli.
Wednesday, May 8
Jose Berrios, just a kid at 24 and in his fourth year, shut out Toronto for seven innings, without a walk, and the Twins won 3-0 as Mitch Garver, last year's catcher when Castro was injured, hit a two-run homer (No. 7) in a 3-0 win. Berrios, Odorizzi and Perez have made a combined 14 starts since April 14 and have a 13-0 record with a 1.90 ERA. That would have been said to be improbable in March, or maybe even impossible.
Garver ended the game hitting .367 and Marwin Gonzalez, the extremely talented utility player who was great with Astros, was hitting only .204. Yet he made good plays at first base, threw out two runners from left field in one game on the road trip, and has looked good at third, making some of the callers wonder where Miguel Sano is going to play when he comes back.
Thursday, May 9 — A week ago when the idea for this diary was hatched the Twins, at 19-10 (.655), had the best record in the major leagues. Here it is almost a week later (written on Thursday because of a day off for the team) and despite a crummy performance against the Yankees the Twins are again atop the majors with a 23-12 (.657) record. And so far this month the starting pitchers have allowed about 1.5 runs per game.
Last night the boys swept the Toronto series with a 9-1 game that included four more homers for a total of 64, an unsustainable pace of 292 for the season. Eddie Rosario hit his 13th and is on pace for more than 60. OK, that's not going to happen either. But it does show what's been going on as the team is averaging 5.6 runs a game in May. And it's probably not known around the country that the Twins have beaten four pitchers this season who have won the Cy Young Award for best pitcher (Corey Kluber, Justin Verlander, Jacob deGrom, Jake Arrieta).
Byron Buxton is on pace for about 75 doubles (that won't happen either) and Jorge Polanco already has two five-hit games this season, something done by only four previous Twins. And the three Minnesota catchers have combined for 12 homers, the best output by any team's catchers in major league baseball. Polanco hit .750 in the Toronto series (9 for 12) and the Twins hit eight homers and outscored Toronto 20-1 in the three games.
Oh, by the way, Kyle Gibson struck out a career high 11 in six innings last night and gave up only two hits. The Blue Jays hit only .121 in the three games.
Detroit (16-18) is next on the schedule, followed by the Angels (17-20). Should be no problem, right? For instance, the Twins have 39 more homers than the Tigers. But remember that the Tigers and Angels are also major league teams. Both teams have good players and likely will compete hard.
PRINCETON SPORTS MEMORIES
May 12 1959 - Zimmerman beat Nowthen in town team baseball, 3-0, as Skeeter Lane of Princeton had two hits for Zimmerman and Roland Benson of Princeton was the winning pitcher . . . The PHS baseball team lost there games but pitcher Terry Erickson went the distance in all three.
May 14, 1964 - Steve Lindell homered as Princeton lost 8-6 to Zimmerman in town team baseball . . . Marv Top set school records in the high jump (6'3 1/2") and broad jump (20'1") in a meet at Rush City and Rick Hobert stayed undefeated in the 440.
May 14, 1969 - Tom Meyer trimmed nine seconds off his two-mile record, lowering it to 9:46, and Mark Blaske set school records in the 100 and 220. Meyer also struck out 11 in six innings the same week in a 5-1 win over Mora . . . Bob Soule struck out 14 in a 7-0 win over North Branch, becoming the third PHS pitcher to throw a shutout that season. Jerry Bergeron homered . . .Sophomore Pete Metcalf shot a 36 in an upset of the Elk River golf team.
May 15, 1974 - Chet Stevenson, a 1969 all-state football player at PHS, was named co-captain of the football team at North Dakota University . . . Tom Rogde and Pete Steinhagen combined for a no-hitter as Princeton beat Fridley 1-0. Rogde pitched the first 6 1/3 innings.
May 17, 1979 - Mike Beck won the pole vault at 13 feet to tie brother Jim Beck and Jeff Gardner for the school record . . . The PHS boys golf team won the conference meet with a 308. Making all-conference were Greg Dery, Mark Bornholdt, Steve Lodien and Todd Dery as they placed 1st, 2nd, 5th and 6th.
May 17, 1984 - Greg Braford, the state Class AA individual golf champ later that spring, shot at 36 in a meet with Braham . . . The PHS baseball team beat St. Francis 8-4 as Tim Vagle struck out 13 and Jim Auers and Brian Dorr homered. Dorr then hit a three-run homer in an 8-0 win over Chisago Lakes as David Fischer struck out 12.
May 18, 1989 - A throw of 116'10" by Kris Bottema broke two-year-old school record in the discus set by Karry Schimming . . . The girls golf team was ranked fifth in the state in Class AA. Judy Bornholdt was ranked fourth and Karen Bromberg fifth.
May 19, 1994 - Pete Olene, Dan Twetten and Greg Sliter homered but the PHS baseball team lost 8-7 to Mora . . . The PHS girls golf team won its second straight RRC golf title as junior Nicole Koskey tied for medalist honors with a 90. Also all-conference were Sheless Davis and Lu Schwochert.
May 13, 1999 - Al Bornholdt had a hole in one at Princeton Golf Club's No. 14. Wife Jo and daughter Judy previously had aces . . . Shannon Miller pitched nine innings of relief in a 13-inning 9-8 win over Rocori.
May 20, 2004 - Josh Ludwig got the win in a 9-2 victory over Foley as brother Jake Ludwig and Jay Erickson each drove in two runs . . . Josh Dahl shot a 37 and 39 in boys golf after posting a 35 the week before.
May 14, 2009 - Katie Loberg won the long jump, high jump and triple jump at the True Team meet in Fridley, setting a school record of 17' 4 1/2" in the long jump . . . Isaiah Mayerchak placed fourth in singles at the conference tennis tournament.
May 15, 2014 - Tanner Palmborg placed second in the 200 meters at the True Team meet with a time of :22.8 and was eighth in the long jump . . . Princeton beat Milaca in baseball (no score given) as Cam Paulson, Tanner Kinney and Joe Bernard each got two hits.
Dorr is the former editor of the Princeton Eagle (2 years) and Princeton Union-Eagle (31 years), and has covered sports in the Princeton area for 52 years.