Twins find another way to lose, blow 5-0 lead in eighth

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It looked like the Twins finally had one in the bag when Scott Baker turned a 5-0 lead against the Angels over the bullpen after seven excellent innings.  It should have been the elusive third victory for Baker, who had seen the Twins score more than three runs in just three of his nine starts.

Alas, the eighth proved terribly unkind to the club once again.

Alex Burnett, Dusty Hughes and Jim Hoey combined to give up five runs in the frame, and Hoey went on to take the loss in the ninth as the Angels stormed back to win 6-5.  The Twins, already with baseball’s worst record, fell to 16-33.

Incredibly, the Twins have given up 49 runs in the eighth inning of their 49 games.  We’re no experts, but that’s almost like a run per game or something.

It seems likely that more changes are in store for the Twins bullpen after this one.  The three pitchers who combined to blow the lead — Burnett, Hughes and Hoey — have ERAs of 7.11, 9.95 and 10.61, respectively.  It’d be no surprise at all to Burnett and Hughes go down Saturday, with Chuck James and perhaps former first-round pick Carlos Gutierrez coming up to replace them.  Anthony Slama is another in line for a chance.

The Twins have more problems than the pen, and the shuffling of the chairs there probably won’t do a lot of good.  But they have to do something and since a long-term benching of Delmon Young probably isn’t in the cards, they’re low on alternatives.

Astros talking to Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole about extensions

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It’s extension season and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Astros — who already agreed to an extension with Alex Bregman — are discussing contract extensions with Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole.

Funny thing about Verlander, by the way: when he got his current $180 million deal, most people fell into the “oh, there’s an overpay!” column. What’s more, this past winter, when everyone was talking about how bad it is to give guys big long term deals, Verlander’s name was notably absent in the conversation despite the fact that his deal has turned out to be quite good. I suppose that says something about how good the anti-long-term deal folks are at cherrypicking.

That being said, Rosenthal says “it would be an upset” if either Verlander or Cole signed extensions. I can see that. Verlander is locked up this year and has a vesting option for 2020, and a lot can happen in a year or two. Cole is a Scott Boras client and Boras clients tend to hit the market rather than sign extensions. Perhaps their former teammate, Dallas Keuchel‘s, terrible experience on the free agent market this winter will alter that calculus. Hard to say.