Barry Zito could serve as a long reliever for the Athletics

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Barry Zito, on a minor league deal with the Athletics has had a strong start to the spring. With three more shutout innings against the Dodgers on Friday, Zito lowered his Cactus League ERA to 3.09. He’s gone multiple innings in all four of his outings, working as if he were to contribute as a starting pitcher.

However, the Athletics’ starting rotation battle is already packed with Jesse Hahn, Jesse Chavez, Drew Pomeranz, Chris Bassitt, Sean Nolan, and Kendall Graveman. There just doesn’t seem to be room to take a gamble on Zito bouncing back after taking the 2014 season off. CSN Bay Area’s Joe Stiglich suggests Zito could contribute to the A’s as a long reliever. He noted that manager Bob Melvin said he thinks his team needs a long reliever as well.

Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle thinks Zito is a long shot to make the roster, but seems likely to wind up on someone else’s roster.

Twins reach historic home run total during 11-4 rout of White Sox

Max Kepler
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The Twins trampled the White Sox on Friday night, cruising to a cool 11-4 lead over their division rivals and collecting their sixth double-digit win of 2019. Even more impressive, they picked up their 99th, 100th, and 101st home runs, a feat that’s rarely been matched in a team’s first 50 games of any given season.

The first homer of the night was delivered by Eddie Rosario in the third inning. Working against a single-run deficit, Rosario lifted an 0-1 fastball from the White Sox’ Reynaldo López, planting it firmly in the left field stands and evening the score, 4-4. Two batters later, Rosario’s solo home run got a sequel: a 398-footer from Miguel Sanó, this one postmarked for the upper deck in left.

In the fourth, now leading 5-4, the Twins saw a third and final homer from the bat of Max Kepler, whose center-field blast traveled a projected 397 feet to give the club a two-run advantage. Per MLB Stats, the Twins’ record — 101 homers in 50 games — stands second only to that of the 1999 Mariners, who managed to club 102 home runs before their 51st game of the season.

While the record has undoubtedly been a team effort, Rosario leads the pack with a team-best 15 homers so far this year, closely followed by C.J. Cron (13), Max Kepler (11), and Jonathan Schoop (10). Sanó, whose solo shot marked the team’s 100th home run of 2019, has just five, though there’s little doubt he’ll reach double digits before the end of the season.

According to MLB.com’s Do-Hyoung Park, the Twins also made it to an even 300 runs scored in 2019, for a satisfying average of six runs per game and a new franchise record (previous high mark: 273 runs scored in 1992). With the win, they improved to 34-16 on the year and continue to hold a comfortable eight-game lead in the AL Central.