Juan Centeno swung and missed at 12:22 a.m. Central time early Thursday morning, ending the Twins’ 10-2 loss to the Angels. But the Twins’ day was far from over. Roughly an hour later, the team packed up at Angels Stadium in Anaheim, bused about 15 minutes to John Wayne Airport, and boarded a chartered jet, headed east.
By the time they landed at Minneapolis-St. Paul International, shortly before 6 a.m., the sun was up and commuters were already starting to crowd the freeways. The players scattered in their cars, reaching home just as their families were waking up for a new day.
Did we mention there’s another game tonight?
As if a schedule that crowds 162 games into 178 available days, with a four-day break in the middle, isn’t enough of a grind, the Twins are paying the price today for the Angels’ resistance to scheduling midweek day games.
There’s a bit of unfortunate scheduling by MLB at work, too: Minnesota will have next Monday off in the middle of a week-long homestand, rather than getting a break between games nearly 2,000 miles apart.
But “they give you a schedule and you’ve got to play it,” shrugged Twins manager Paul Molitor.
In this case it means the Twins have played games on 32 of the past 34 days, 19 of the last 20, and the last 10 in a row — with four more to come before that day off. Molitor will make as many concessions as he can to his player’s fatigue.
Players normally arrive at Target Field between 2 and 2:30 p.m. for a night game, in order to take extra batting practice, but they’ll be allowed to show up an hour later on Thursday. And Kyle Gibson, who starts tonight’s game against the Yankees, didn’t make the trip to California at all. He threw a bullpen session on Monday, then watched his teammates play three games on TV.
The Yankees, by the way, have no such travel complications today. Their plane from Denver, where they lost to the Rockies on Wednesday afternoon, landed in Minneapolis before the Twins’ game in Anaheim even began.
But don’t expect the Twins to complain much about the schedule or about the lack of sleep. If you’re a major leaguer, Molitor said, you overcome things like fatigue.
During his playing days, “I used to think think it’s part of the challenge. You get into a city at 3 o’clock, 5 o’clock, [and you’ve] got to play the next day — OK, what are you made of? Let’s go. I look at it that way.
"Players have got to find a way to get around those type of things.”