Twins-Angels games postponed by Minnesota’s COVID-19 woes

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ANAHEIM, Calif. — The Twins’ games against the Los Angeles Angels on Saturday night and Sunday have been postponed due to Minnesota’s COVID-19 problems, including at least four positive tests in the past week.

Kyle Garlick, another unnamed Twins player and a team staff member tested positive in the two days before the postponements, manager Rocco Baldelli said Saturday. Shortstop Andrelton Simmons already hadn’t made the trip to Anaheim after testing positive early in the week, and he hadn’t been around the team since Tuesday.

“There’s not one person in our group who’s not frustrated,” Baldelli said. “Does everyone have that general frustration just having to deal with this in a grander sense? Absolutely. And then there are probably people who are frustrated about particular aspects of that.”

Saturday’s game was “postponed to allow for continued testing and contact tracing involving members of the Twins organization,” the league said in a statement.

The Twins are undergoing more testing this weekend in Anaheim, and they’re uncertain when they’ll be allowed to play again. They haven’t had any more positive tests from another round Saturday, but Baldelli knows that could be false hope.

“It’s a difficult time, and we all know the timelines on these things,” Baldelli said. “If someone had been exposed, (the results) are not necessarily immediate. We’re going to return to the hotel and we’re going to await further instructions.”

Garlick played when Minnesota lost 10-3 to the Angels on Friday night. Minnesota’s next scheduled game is in Oakland on Monday night.

Some Twins personnel isolated themselves at the team hotel Friday, according to Baldelli, who said he had a false positive himself Thursday morning.

Some of the infected Twins had “very minor symptoms … just mild fatigue, headache, scratchy throat, all that,” Baldelli said.

“Things are not going to be easy because of it,” Baldelli said. “We’re going to have a great deal of challenges in addition to everything we’ve gone through, and we’re going to be up for it and we’re going to give it our best effort. None of this has gone to plan. This is the unfortunate reality we live in, but we’re going to go forwards. We’re going to attack it and do the best we can.”

The Twins made an organization-wide push for vaccination when they returned from spring training in Florida nearly three weeks ago. That push didn’t include Simmons, who refused to be vaccinated.

Baldelli said the team was “close to where we wanted to be, but not close enough” in regard to getting most of its employees vaccinated. He believes that about 80% of the team has received two doses of the vaccine, but many employees aren’t outside the two-week window following the second dose to be considered fully vaccinated.

There were 45 regular-season games postponed for virus-related reasons last year, but only two – between St. Louis and Detroit – were not made up.

The Twins aren’t scheduled to visit Angel Stadium again this season, and the Angels visit Minnesota for four games on July 22-25.

Swanson, Olson go deep vs Scherzer, Braves take NL East lead

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ATLANTA — Dansby Swanson and Matt Olson homered off Max Scherzer, lifting the Atlanta Braves to a crucial 4-2 victory Saturday night over the New York Mets and a one-game lead in the NL East.

The defending World Series champions beat aces Jacob deGrom and Scherzer on consecutive nights to take their biggest lead of the season in the division. New York, which held a 10 1/2-game cushion on June 1, faces its biggest deficit of the year with four games remaining.

Atlanta will try for a three-game sweep Sunday night, with the winner earning the season-series tiebreaker between the teams. Even though both teams are headed to the postseason, that’s important because the NL East champion gets a first-round bye in the playoffs.

Swanson’s 24th homer, a go-ahead, two-run shot in the fifth inning, touched off a frenzy among the sold-out crowd at Truist Park, the ball sailing a few rows up into the seats in left-center to make it 3-2. Olson hit his 32nd homer in the sixth, a solo shot into Chop House seats in right to put Atlanta up 4-2.

Austin Riley led off the fourth with a double and scored on Olson’s single to make it 1-all.

Kyle Wright (21-5) gave up two runs and seven hits with one walk and three strikeouts in five innings as he won his eighth straight decision. The Braves have won 16 of his last 17 starts.

New York went up 2-1 in the fifth when Pete Alonso, Francisco Lindor and Jeff McNeil hit consecutive two-out singles.

The Mets led 1-0 in the first when Brandon Nimmo singled, advanced on a walk and a single and scored on Eduardo Escobar‘s groundout. Wright, who threw 30 pitches in the first, stranded two runners in scoring position to prevent further damage.

Scherzer (11-5) allowed a first-inning single to Riley and a third-inning infield single to Ronald Acuna Jr., who advanced to third on a fielding error by Lindor at shortstop but was stranded when Michael Harris II lined out to center. Scherzer patted his glove and pumped his fist as he walked off the mound.

Scherzer was charged with nine hits and four runs with no walks and four strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings as the Mets were knocked out of first place for only the third day all season.

The Braves have won five of the last six against New York to tie the season series 9-all, outscoring the Mets 37-16 over that stretch.

Atlanta’s bullpen, which posted a 1.70 ERA in September, got a perfect inning from Dylan Lee in the sixth. Jesse Chavez faced four batters in the seventh, Raisel Iglesias faced the minimum in the eighth and closer Kenley Jansen pitched a perfect ninth for his NL-leading 39th save in 46 chances.

Since the Braves were a season low-tying four games under .500 at 23-27 after play on May 31, they have gone 76-32, tying the Los Angeles Dodgers for the best record in the majors over that span. They were a season-worst 10 1/2 games behind the first-place Mets on June 1.

Wright, the only 20-game winner in baseball this season, hasn’t officially become the first Braves pitcher to lead the league in wins outright since Russ Ortiz had 21 in 2003, but the Dodgers’ Julio Urias has 17 and can’t reach 20 before the regular season ends.

Wright will become the first Braves pitcher since Hall of Famer Tom Glavine in 2000 to lead the majors in wins. Houston ace Justin Verlander also has 17.

Wright began the game 1-4 with a 6.75 ERA in six career starts and one relief appearance against the Mets.

The Braves, who got homers from Riley, Olson and Swanson off deGrom on Friday, lead the NL with 240 homers.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Mets: All-Star RF Starling Marte (right middle finger fracture) has yet to begin swinging or throwing. Manager Buck Showalter said Marte is experiencing less pain but not enough to take the next step in his recovery. Marte has been sidelined since Sept. 7.

Braves: RHP Spencer Strider still has not thrown as he gets treatment on a sore left oblique. Manager Brian Snitker said there is no timetable for the rookie’s return. Strider has been sidelined since Sept. 21.

NICE GLOVE

Harris ran back and jumped to catch Nimmo’s fly against the wall in center field for the first out of the third.

UP NEXT

Mets RHP Chris Bassitt (15-8, 3.27 ERA) will face RHP Charlie Morton (9-6, 4.29) as the teams conclude a three-game series.