The shortest scheduled games in Twins history were mostly short on offense, too.
Nelson Cruz smacked a home run in each game and was robbed of a possible third in the first set of seven-inning games the Twins have ever played, but his teammates provided only seven other hits all afternoon, none of them homers, and Minnesota and Kansas City settled for a split of the doubleheader Saturday at Target Field.
Cruz’s third-deck homer in Game 1 carried the Twins to a 4-2 victory, but his blast off the limestone in straightaway center field in Game 2 was one of only two Twins hits, and Kansas City won by an identical 4-2 score.
While Cruz looked sharp, Jose Berrios did not. The righthander, now 1-3 on the season, left the bases loaded in the first inning of Game 2 without giving up a run, allowed three singles and a run in the second, and surrendered a three-run homer by Whit Merrifield in the fourth inning. He struck out seven but walked a season-high four batters, too.
“He battled himself, execution-wise and [in his] ability to repeat his delivery,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “That was the story of this start. Even through fighting himself a little bit, he still found a way to get through different situations, make pitches he needed to — until the big swing from Whit.”
Still, the Twins’ bullpen held the Royals scoreless over the final three innings — completing six shutout innings on the day — but the Twins didn’t manage another hit.
“That’s on us. We’ve got to score some more runs and have some better at-bats to give ourselves a chance,” Baldelli said.
Jake Odorizzi gave the Twins a great chance in Game 1, even as he learned a harsh truth about scoring rules: They still require five innings.
Not that he would complain.
Odorizzi allowed only one baserunner through the game’s first four innings but surrendered a two-run home run to Maikel Franco in the fifth to abruptly end his day after 79 pitches. Odorizzi did not meet the required five-complete-innings standard to be credited with the victory. Instead, it went to Tyler Duffey, who needed only 10 pitches to finish the inning.
No, pitcher “wins” don’t mean nearly as much as they once did. And they particularly don’t to Odorizzi, who had to be delighted to rebound from a so-so 2020 debut one week earlier in a loss to the Royals.
“As long as we win the day I pitch, I’m perfectly fine with that,” said Odorizzi, who missed the season’s first two weeks with back soreness. “My importance as a starting pitcher is for the team to know what to expect the days I take the mound — expect to win.”
As for Duffey, whose past three victories have required a mere 28 pitches, total? “Maybe he can take [the win] to arbitration, get some money out of it,” Odorizzi joked.
The All-Star righthander retired the first 11 hitters he faced on Saturday, six of them via strikeout, before Salvador Perez singled. Ryan McBroom led off the fifth with a double, and Franco followed with a home run into the bleachers in left-center to cut Odorizzi’s day short.
“He hung one, and it kind of leaves that bad taste in your mouth,” Baldelli said of Odorizzi. “That being said, there’s way more to be excited about out of Jake’s start today than anything else.”
Well, Cruz might disagree, after hitting two can-you-believe-it blasts, his first Target Field homers of the year.
His two-run homer off the face of the upper deck in the third inning of Game 1 traveled 448 feet, the longest by any Twin this season, and his rocket in the second inning of Game 2 cleared the batter’s eye in center, a 432-foot blast. He nearly homered again in the first game, but Alex Gordon gloved the ball at the top of the fence, and it fell to the warning track for a double. Cruz scored a moment later on an Eddie Rosario double.