The 2021 Minnesota Twins are a team that even the most skeptical of baseball analysts consider a contender for the AL Central Division, which is why there is a lot of expectation about their Home Opener series to be played from April 8th, against the Seattle Mariners.
Of course, this will mark the first time the squad led by Rocco Baldelli plays at Target Field, and the first time since the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic that the stadium will receive fans in the stands, which makes April 8th an important event in the city and the State in general, which is why the entire series is already sold out.
2021 Minnesota Twins: The Offensive
The 2021 Minnesota Twins have had a very interesting start of the season, particularly in the offensive department. We’ve seen a notable consistent first five games from the established stars, especially Byron Buxton, who despite having played only three games, has not only been on fire with the bat even after a brief bout of illness but has completely changed the face of games with some clutch performances.
Buxton’s newfound power and his intelligent approach to the plate offer a very helpful weapon for Rocco Baldelli, who has continuously praised him during this effective run, as he has improved on his patience, especially on off-speed pitches. With three home runs in only 10 plate appearances, Buxton holds an impressive 1.900 OPS for the best start of his career.
On the other hand, players like Luis Arraez, Max Kepler — whose solid start is beginning to silence doubts about his batting, after a disappointing 2020 — and especially Nelson Cruz, are contributing to a commendable first week with the bat. Cruz himself is easily positioning himself as one of the league’s most reliable sluggers, with three home runs, two of them in back-to-back at-bats against the Detroit Tigers. This early-season performance is also important for the Dominican as he dangerously approaches the 500 home run mark, a feat that would cement his status as a legend.
2021 Minnesota Twins: Pitching Matchups and Predictions
The 2021 Minnesota Twins have a particularly solid pitching department; despite some setbacks in the rotations in the past, as the first week of the 2021 calendar came to a conclusion, the group of starters has delivered strong (or at least strong enough) performances. However, the biggest star of the year so far for the Twins is none other than José Berríos, who spun a gem last Saturday, with 6 scoreless innings and 12 strikeouts against the Milwaukee Brewers.
Berríos, who accomplished last week’s feat with only 84 pitches thrown, will most likely be the starter for Game 1 of the series. He will face lefty Marco Gonzales, who experienced a lot of trouble in his first start against the San Francisco Giants, where he earned 5 runs and 8 hits, three of them dingers, in 6 innings. Gonzales, who recorded 3 walks in his time on the mound, will likely be in dangerous situations against the ever-dangerous Twins batting order, and his tendency to be hit for distance might sound attractive to long-distance guys like Josh Donaldson, Miguel Sanó, and Cruz.
For games 2 and 3, the Twins are probably sending Michael Pineda and Matt Shoemaker respectively, and the Mariners are likely starting Japanese lefty Yusei Kikuchi and young gun Chris Flexen. Kikuchi, despite having a diverse and tricky repertoire that struck out 10 Giants batters last Friday, also gets dangerously close to the gunpowder, as he admitted two home runs in his six-inning stint.
Flexen, on the other hand, had a remarkable performance in his first start, recording five scoreless innings with six strikeouts, and he’s a tough match for Shoemaker, who had a solid first appearance where he only allowed one run in six innings with no walks, for his first victory last Monday in Detroit.
2021 Minnesota Twins: Time to Take an Early Lead
With their Home Opener Series, the 2021 Minnesota Twins have a really good opportunity not only to show themselves to their loyal fans for the first time since 2019 but to take advantage of a good start of the season against a struggling team as the Seattle Mariners.
Their success in the AL Central, perhaps the most uncertain division in the AL, lies upon getting an early lead in the standings and maintain a successful streak. They have had trouble preserving leads, like in the Season Opener, where they blew a three-run advantage against the Brewers, so it’s essential for the team to close out games from the second third of the match. They have the offense to take them there, and the starting pitching has been alright, they only need to make adjustments in those final three innings.
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