Pedro Hernandez was so-so in Game 1, a 6-7 loss, and Kevin Correia, the de facto ace of the staff, took a big step back in a 7-3 loss in Game 2. Fortunately, Mike Pelfrey, who has scuffled a bit this season, was able to go six and strike out seven en route to a 4-2 win.
As it has been all season, the Twins lineup has been productive, although it did struggle with runners in scoring positions in the first two games (4-for-23 combined).
Minnesota now sits at one game below .500 entering a four-game series against the surprising Boston Red Sox in Fenway. The final stretch of this lengthy road trip will test the mettle of a team that has been more successful than many thought at the beginning of the season.
Pedro Hernandez and Kevin Correia need to work on their control
There are times when you can see what the Twins liked about 23-year-old Pedro Hernandez when they traded for him last year, but there are days like he had on Friday where he has trouble finding the zone and looks out of control on the mound.
The lefty threw 95 pitches, but only 57 were for strikes. As a result, he gave up eight hits and five runs in 5.1 innings pitched.
This is to be expected of a young pitcher who has yet to get a foothold in the league. It was a little more surprising, however, to see Correia struggle on Saturday. The former Pittsburgh Pirate started out the year well, picking up three wins and going deep into every game he pitched.
Against Cleveland, however, Correia labored through five innings. The 32-year-old gave up four runs in the first two frames and only 59 of his 102 pitches were for strikes.
Twins Daily blogger Parker Hageman took to Twitter, calling him the next incarnation of Ramon Ortiz, a former Twin who started the 2007 season out well but ended the year in the bullpen.
Hopefully that is not the case. His next start will tell us a lot about what kind of pitcher Correia is going to be this season.
Ryan Doumit needs to get it going
Ryan Doumit was an underappreciated pickup by the Twins in 2012. Like Correia, Doumit is a former Pirate who made a great first impression once he came to Minneapolis. He hit .275/.320/.461 with 18 home runs last year and is a solid backup catcher for Joe Mauer.
While his defense has been fine this year, Doumit hit .194/.270/.299 in April and struck out 16 times in 67 at-bats.
He played well against the Indians. Doumit beat the shift in Game 1 by hitting the ball directly to where the shortstop usually is and had a 10-pitch at-bat against Scott Kazmir in Game 2. His batting average rose above the Mendoza Line, but he also struck out four times in 12 at-bats.
Being more selective at the plate will go a long way for Doumit to get back to being the productive player he was last season.
Aaron Hicks, Chris Parmelee and Trevor Plouffe are heating up in May
Minnesota’s three SoCal kids—Aaron Hicks, Chris Parmelee and Trevor Plouffe—all warmed up like the Los Angeles sun at Progressive Field.
Hicks hit his first career home run on Saturday. Parmelee already has two dingers in May and was on base when Plouffe hit his second home run of the series on Sunday.
To reiterate: Parmelee was on base when Plouffe hit a home run.
Only nine of Plouffe’s 38 career home runs have come with a man on base.
Even crazier than that: His opposite field home run, which came on Friday, was the first of his career. Plouffe is hitting .364/.462/1.000 this month.
Maybe it’s Progressive Field. Maybe it’s the sun. Maybe it’s just the natural ups and downs of a season.
Whatever it is, Minnesota loves it when the SoCal Trio is playing like this.
The Twins continue to play .500 baseball. It would have been nice if they were able to pull it out Game 1, as it is now the second series on this road trip where they have lost a close game.
Minnesota will be tested in Boston against a Red Sox team that has already won 20 games this year. As long as the rotation can provide adequate pitching and the lineup capitalizes in key moments, the Twins are capable of pulling off an upset in Beantown.