When stormy weather arrives, it’s best to find some sunny patches in those clouds. And so it was for the Twins on Wednesday, when the third game of their four-game set with the Indians at Target Field was postponed four hours before first pitch by the approach of steady, soaking rain.
For Joe Mauer, calling the game off meant spending his 34th birthday at home. For the rest of the Twins hitters, it meant avoiding a difficult matchup against Indians ace Corey Kluber, whose scheduled Thursday start will be delayed until Friday, when the Indians are in Chicago.
For fans who purchased the Twins’ special $99 ballpark pass for every April and May game, it provides a nice bonus: entry to Target Field on a Saturday night in June, when the game is made up. And even Twins President Dave St. Peter found a reason to smile over a dreary day. “For those of us who are hockey fans, it means the Wild have our undivided attention tonight,” he said.
The postponement is the 16th in Target Field history, and the 10th in April, but isn’t particularly disruptive to the Twins’ schedule. Because of MLB’s unbalanced schedule, which this year matched the Twins with AL Central teams in 22 of their first 25 games, the teams had several options to make the game up.
They settled upon June 17, adding a 7:10 p.m. game to the regular 1:10 p.m. Saturday game.
“The opponent definitely factors in. An out-of-division game might have meant trying to wait out delays [Wednesday night] or trying to play a doubleheader [Thursday], when the weather, frankly, is not looking great,” St. Peter said. “We think there will be a window for the [scheduled] afternoon game, but it will be a chilly game for our fans. Since the Indians come back two more times, it’s better to reschedule for what should be much more pleasant conditions.”
There’s an obvious economic advantage, too. The Twins have drawn fewer than 17,000 fans to Target Field (with a record low of 15,171 on April 5) in four of their eight home games this season, a benchmark they had fallen below in only one previous game. Wednesday’s game would likely have added to that total, but a weekend night game in June figures to sell more tickets.
One thing was lost to the postponement, however: the Twins’ first appearance on ESPN’s nationally televised “Wednesday Night Baseball” broadcast in several years. It was to be welcome exposure for a team that doesn’t get much, but St. Peter said it’s not much of a disappointment.
“I’ve always viewed national exposure as something you earn, and we just haven’t played good enough baseball in recent years to draw much,” he said. “I expect we’ll have our fill again as we regain our competitive standing.”
Rain’s impact on rotation
Manger Paul Molitor has chosen to keep Ervin Santana on schedule despite Wednesday’s postponement. Adalberto Mejia, his third career start pushed back by the rain, will start Saturday instead, against the Tigers.
The Indians will simply move Wednesday’s starter, Trevor Bauer, to Thursday’s game.
Gardenhire has surgery
Former Twins manager Ron Gardenhire was recovering Wednesday at Mayo Clinic in Rochester after undergoing surgery Tuesday to treat prostate cancer. The surgery was successful, according to the Arizona Diamondbacks, for whom Gardenhire is in his first season as bench coach.
Gardenhire, who revealed his diagnosis Feb. 14 but remained in spring training, is expected to spend the next few weeks in Minnesota. He’ll rejoin the staff of Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo sometime in May.