MINNEAPOLIS - Full lineup cards. A pair of socially-distanced, but filled dugouts. Coaches at first and third base. Umpires on the field. The jumbotron up and running, and walk-up music for hitters. The Twins even had crowd noise pumped into Target Field Wednesday night in the closest thing resembling real baseball at Summer Camp.
Players were put on teams led by Max Kepler and Jorge Polanco, and they had home and away uniforms on. The scrimmage was streamed online, with Dick Bremer calling the play-by-play and Justin Morneau on the color commentary.
Other than no fans in the stands, the only unusual thing about Wednesday night’s intra squad game was the finish, a 3-3 tie after seven innings.
“That was clearly our most competitive game, most competitive situation that we’ve seen so far. I think it’s pretty obvious that when you sit in different dugouts and put on jerseys, guys start competing and that’s what these guys like to do,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “This is the kind of game that gets you ready to play real baseball.”
Kenta Maeda and Devin Smeltzer got the starts on the mound, and each had solid nights. Maeda went five innings, allowing just one run on two hits while striking out four and walking two. Smeltzer went four innings, allowing two runs on six hits with two strikeouts and one walk on 65 pitches, 48 strikes.
Maeda said after the game an outing like Wednesday, with a full uniform on and a home plate umpire, helps him mentally prepare for when things get real starting next Friday in Chicago.
“I really enjoyed pitching in today’s atmosphere. It’s probably the closest to what the actual season is going to be like. So I’m glad I was able to pitch in today’s atmosphere,” Maeda said.
The game started with Kepler lead-off homer to right off Maeda. He later added a run-scoring double to right center off Sergio Romo. Nelson Cruz hit a two-run homer off Smeltzer, and reached base three times.
Lane Adams got a run-scoring single off Taylor Rogers, and Ryan Jeffers hit a solo homer to left center in the seventh that tied the game 3-3 before it was over.
It was a competitive night all around, and fun to see live baseball again at Target Field even if it didn’t mean anything.
“Their competitiveness came out and that’s exactly what we’re looking to see right now,” Baldelli said.
The Twins will have Thursday off before getting back to work on Friday. Miguel Sano, who was cleared for baseball activities after going through Covid-19 protocols, will work out Thursday at CHS Field with the team’s minor leaguers.