DET 4, MIN 3: Twins Fail to Execute in Extras
Image courtesy of © Raj Mehta-USA TODAY SportsBox Score
Happ: 4.0 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 4 K
Home Runs: Cruz (3), Buxton (3)
Bottom 3 WPA: Robles -.350, Arraez -.210, Stashak -.196
Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs):
Happ Solid, Stretched Out
J.A. Happ joined the Twins’ spring camp late due to a positive COVID test. Previously, Happ had only been stretched out to 73 pitches. In his first start of the season, Happ was solid, if not spectacular, striking out four in four innings of one-run ball. Happ managed 89 pitches, with a very mediocre Twins infield behind him.
Mize Strong Early
Casey Mize looked strong early for the Tigers. The 2018 No. 1 pick worked around scattered hits and walks in the first few innings, before struggling significantly in the fourth. In 2020, Mize typically got into messy innings, limiting his ability to get into later innings, the same was true today.
Arraez and Buxton Return to Lineup
Both Luis Arraez and Byron Buxton returned to the Twins lineup after exiting previous games with illness. Arraez started the game at second base, Buxton entered for Brent Rooker in the fifth.
The majority of the game felt like a frustrating 2020 offensive performance, full of missed opportunities.
In the top of the seventh inning however, Nelson Cruz again took matters into his own hands, sending his third HR in two days to right center field.
After replacing a struggling Brent Rooker, Byron Buxton deposited a pitch from José Cisnero deep into the left center field seats, emphatically tying the game in the top of the eighth after missing the previous two games with gastrointestinal discomfort.
Happ’s relatively short start thrust the Twins bullpen into six innings of work. Cody Stashak entered the game in the fifth and struggled significantly. Stashak, who normally models impeccable control and command, needed 28 pitches (18 strikes) to see out his inning of work, giving up three hits, a walk and two runs in the process, ballooning his early 2021 ERA to 9.00.
2020 most surprising Twin Caleb Thielbar made his first appearance of 2021 in the seventh inning after missing some time in spring training with a back strain. Thielbar looked impressive in his outing, striking out five in two innings of work, showing sharp command of his curveball, and reaching an improved 93 mph with his fastball.
After Tyler Duffey pitched his best inning of the year, allowing just a walk in the eighth, Taylor Rogers found trouble in the ninth. Rogers induced a double play from Miguel Cabrera to end the inning.
In the top of the 10th, with Jorge Polanco beginning the inning at second base, Nelson Cruz immediately shot an opposite field single through the gap, sending Polanco to third base. Byron Buxton ground out, leading to Jorge Polanco being thrown out at the plate for the second time in the game before Andrelton Simmons struck out to end another empty Twins threat.
In the bottom of the 10th, Jeimer Candelario grounded out, moving Harold Castro to third base. Wilson Ramos struck out swinging. Hansel Robles deliberately walked Robbie Grossman before Akil Baddoo continued his torrid start to his first month in MLB, stroking the game winning single to right field to put the final nail in the coffin of a game the Twins will feel they should have won.
Mauer Joins Broadcast
Lastly, in a treat for home team fans, Twins great and future Hall of Famer joined the broadcast in the sixth inning, joining Dick Bremer and Justin Morneau to preview a charity home run derby being held at Target Field.
What were your thoughts on today's game? Who impressed? Who left you frustrated?
Postgame with Baldelli
Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet