Few events brings out big opinions like the first game of a season. And in most cases — particularly the 162-game marathon that is the MLB season — those big opinions need to be put on a shelf for 6-8 weeks until we have gathered a reasonable sample size from which to draw meaningful conclusions.
Would you draw a hard conclusion about the Vikings after one drive of the first game (a comparable portion of that league's season)?
Wait, don't answer that.
What I really want to get at, and what I talked about on the Daily Delivery podcast Friday, is this: There are reactions to be had from the way Thursday's 6-5, 10-inning loss to Milwaukee unfolded. But let's differentiate them from overreactions.
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For instance: It was unfortunate that Andrelton Simmons made a key error on a routine play on Thursday, but that's not indicative of the type of player he is. We can expect based on history that he will be a superior shortstop over the course of the season and save far more runs than he allows with his glove.
And while it was a good sign not only that Byron Buxton hit a long home run but also drew two walks — after having just two walks all last season — we shouldn't get carried away about that positive development in just one game.
But there were a couple question marks heading into the season that flared up undeniably in the first game.
One was whether Josh Donaldson, after having much of the first season of his four-year, $92 million deal with the Twins spoiled by a calf injury, could stay healthy. That he injured his hamstring in the first inning of the first game cannot be interpreted as anything but a bad sign. Even if it turns out to be a fluke and he returns relatively soon, it's not an overreaction to be concerned given his history.
The other was how end of game situations would be sorted out in the Twins bullpen. I had imagined Taylor Rogers would still get the bulk of the ninth inning work and that newly acquired righty Alexander Colome would get some of the work but would primarily be used in earlier situations.
But Rogers worked the seventh inning Thursday — a clean inning against the heart of Milwaukee's order — while Colome was handed the ninth and a 5-2 lead. He promptly gave up three runs, aided both by his own poor defense on a slow roller and two rockets hit to right field by left-handed batters, to turn what looked like a breezy win into a stunning defeat.
Bullpens are deployed differently now than they used to be, and for sound reasons. Three outs in the seventh inning count the same, at least in theory, as three in the ninth. You have to get to 27 regardless, and if the matchups tell you that your best reliever — who in my book is still Rogers — can be better used in the seventh, I understand the logic.
But there's still something old-school in my brain that can't get fully on board with that idea. The last three outs still feel more important, and there's a tension in the final inning that doesn't exist two innings earlier in most cases.
If the Twins' plan going into the year was to have Colome work a lot of ninth inning situations, I don't like it. I didn't like it going into the year, and I particularly didn't like the result on Thursday after 4 hours and 14 minutes of play.