Wednesday, the Twins announced that they had reinstated right-handed starting pitcher Michael Pineda from the injured list. He got the start Wednesday afternoon against the Orioles and kept his good season going. He worked six innings, allowing just one run on three hits with eight strikeouts and two walks.
The Twins trailed 1-0 for a big portion of the game, but Miguel Sano came through with a three-run shot in the bottom of the sixth:
That would be all the Twins needed, as they staved off a ninth-inning Orioles rally to prevail, 3-2.
Pineda, 32, has been the Twins' best pitcher this season. In eight starts, he's now 3-2 with a 2.62 ERA, 0.99 WHIP and 47 strikeouts against 12 walks in 44 2/3 innings.
The timing of getting Pineda back should turn heads a bit, even if only slowly. The Twins have had a horrific 2021 season to date and entered Wednesday 9 1/2 games out of first place in the AL Central. They still sit nine games under .500 and would have to go 70-43 -- a 162-game pace of 100 wins -- the rest of the way in order to win 90 games. Even if they did that, would 90 wins get them to the playoffs when we're back to the three division winners and two wild cards playoff format?
It's a tall order, for sure.
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The Twins are, however, showing signs of life in the midst of a portion of the schedule that is workable. They've won six of their last seven games with the one loss in there coming in extra innings. Next up, they have a three game series against the Royals at home. They then hit the road for three against the Orioles and four more against the Royals. If they play like the team they were projected to be heading into the season, they will stay hot.
If they go something like 8-2 in these next 10 games against what would've been considered inferior competition heading into the year, we'd probably have to allow for the possibility that they could climb back into contention.
Before that happens, they have to keep stacking up the wins. From that point of view, getting Pineda back and winning Wednesday was a big step.