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MIN 11, SEA 6: Total System Failure (for the Other Guys)

The Twins trounced Seattle starter Erik Swanson, saddling him with eight earned runs in his start that lasted just three innings, and the Mariners made a few embarrassing missed-catch errors in the outfield. It was a performance that gave me flashbacks to the 2016 Twins. You could almost feel bad for those Mariners fans in attendance. Almost.
Image courtesy of © Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
Box Score
Pineda: 7.0 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 6 K, 70.3% strikes (64 of 91 pitches)
Home Runs: Castro (7), Kepler (9), Cron (10), Buxton (3)
Multi-Hit Games: Cron (4-for-5, HR), Rosario (3-for-5), Polanco (2-for-5), Sano (2-for-5, 2 2B), Buxton (2-for-5, HR)
WPA of +0.1: Castro .151, Cron .129
WPA of -0.1: None
Attached Image: Win516.png
(chart via FanGraphs)

Seattle was one of just two teams who have hit more home runs that the Twins so far this season. Both teams lived up to their early-season reputations. Jason Castro opened the scoring in the third inning with a solo home run. That gave him seven homers in his first 62 plate appearances on the year at that point. Insane.

I pointed out on Twitter before the game how Max Kepler had been struggling and suggested it may be time to slide him down in the order. He had a .476 OPS in May entering this game. So, of course, he hit his ninth home run in the third inning, another solo shot.

In the fourth inning, C.J. Cron hit what should be counted as something more than just a home run. He obliterated a fastball 453 feet into the upper deck. The exit velocity was 114.3 mph. This was already his 10th home run, and while so many others have been low laser beams, this one was a tall, majestic blast.

Byron Buxton added another homer in the fourth, a three-run blast, for his third of the season. He’s been on fire, coming into this game with a .326/.392/.565 line so far in May.

Pineda Pounds the Zone
The Mariners hit three homers of their own. Michael Pineda did exactly what you’d want a starting pitcher to do when spotted an eight-run lead. He went into strike-throwing mode, but that aggressiveness led to a couple of those home runs. Solo home runs in blowouts don’t matter much, but bailing out what’s been a busy bullpen most definitely does.

After the bats broke out that big lead, Pineda threw over 72% of his pitches for strikes. He ended up needing just 91 pitches to complete seven innings, giving a bit of a beat up bullpen a much-needed break. Pineda got 16 swinging strikes, struck out six batters, did not issue a walk and only got into one three-ball count.

Sano’s Return
Tonight marked the 2019 season debut for Miguel Sano. He hit seventh and played third base. C.J. Cron was the DH (still no Nelson Cruz) while Marwin Gonzalez handled first base, so they could have very easily worked things out to not have Miguel in the field. It seems like a good sign that they wanted him out there.

Anyway, Sano got a slider right over the heart of the plate in his first at-bat but grounded out to third base. He did not miss in his second at-bat, he hit a fastball 103.4 mph to left field for a double. By the third time Sano came up, the Twins had already built a 9-1 lead. He hit into a bases-loaded, inning-ending ground out. Once again, it was a very good pitch to hit.

Sano faced old friend Anthony Swarzak in his fourth at-bat. After fouling off the first two pitches, Sano struck out on a checked swing. All three pitches were sliders. He added a second double in his final at-bat of the night, driving in a run to pad the Twins’ lead.

So the final line for Sano was 2-for-5 with a pair of doubles, an RBI and a strikeout. He also looked good on his lone defensive chance of the evening.

Bullpen Usage
Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days:
Attached Image: Pen516.png
Next Three Games
Fri at SEA, 9:10 pm CT (Perez-Gonsales)
Sat at SEA, 9:10 pm CT (Berrios-LeBlanc)
Sun at SEA, 3:10 pm CT (Gibson-Kikuchi)

Last Game
MIN 8, LAA 7: Twins Squeak Out Victory

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32 Comments

This is without Garver and Cruz. This line up is special.

    • SwainZag, PseudoSABR, bighat and 1 other like this
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Aerodeliria
May 17 2019 12:33 AM

That home run by Cron was a monster blast. The Twins were just bashing the ball. Swanson wasn't exactly fooling anyone.

 

As Tom mentioned, the Mariners didn't play well; but the Twins made some blunders as well--on the base paths and throwing the ball around as well. Those miscues are easy to overlook when you score 11 runs.

 

Pineda is an interesting case. I thought today would be his best outing of the season. Again, he was able to get swinging strikes as Tom mentioned, but they still jacked the ball three more times. Was it his best outing? Questionable. I can say it was a win and he certainly could relax with such a large lead, but do I trust him in a tight game? Not yet...but I really want to!!!

 

I'm thankful for the win; that's more than we can say about last year in Seattle. Last year after having beaten the Cards in St. Louis twice and playing .500 over a few games and then winning three of four games at home, I was optimistic that the Twins were going to right the ship in Seattle and all would be well. I couldn't have been more wrong. The Seattle trip (to me) was the most demoralizing series of the season; it exposed all of the Twins' weaknesses in one series. We then went into KC and laid another egg. We are already one win in the plus column at Seattle this year!! This is much more fun!! (We were 20-23 at this point last year as a comparison.)

    • dbminn and bunt_vs_the_shift like this

What is the story on Cruz. It is like playing with a 2 man bench if he cannot play, and that just doesn't seem like the way to go. And any update on Garver?

    • biswrest likes this

Most encouraging for me were the performances of Pineda and Sano- even tho he got a sort of gift double on a ball that probably should have been caught, he hit the living hell out of it.

 

Also glad (but a little scared, too) that Rocco trotted Duffey out for the 9th- where he looked good- and saved more BP arms.

 

And holy moley- there was a shot at one point in last night's game of Pineda and Sano standing together in the dugout- as a tag team, they could take on the Crusher and the Bruiser for sure!

    • REPETE, Monkeypaws, Aichiman and 1 other like this

 

What is the story on Cruz. It is like playing with a 2 man bench if he cannot play, and the just doesn't seem like the way to go. And any update on Garver?

 

Cruz had a sore wrist. He'll likely be back in the lineup today or tomorrow - Twins were just giving him some extra rest. He can play outfield and not drop routine fly balls if needed.

 

Garver's out until June 1 at least. Unfortunate.

    • h2oface likes this

Buxton with a HR, Sano with 2 doubles and an RBI. Twins score 11 runs and win the game. Safe to say many a Twins fan spent all winter dreaming about that scenario!

 

Sano did not look rusty. He did not look frustrated. He looked confident, calm, and ready to play a major role in this offense. Wow...

    • brvama, mikelink45, Dman and 4 others like this
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bunt_vs_the_shift
May 17 2019 06:03 AM

"Michael Pineda has 48 swinging strikes among his 282 pitches over his last three starts. That is a 17.0 swinging strike rate. Blake Snell is the only qualified starter who has maintained a better rate this season."

 

I'm encouraged to see some positive metrics for Pineda, but he constantly seems to be flirting with that "I only made 3-4 bad pitches" territory that we used to hear post-game from our mediocre starters... I didn't think he pitched too bad last Saturday either aside from 3 pitches that got absolutely crushed, but that's part of your body of work. And from a body of work standpoint he is serving up home runs left and right. I guess this shows that he has the stuff to possibly turn it around? I'd rather get behind that than gripe about the HRs, it's just hard to ignore that part 

    • h2oface, mikelink45 and Hosken Bombo Disco like this

3178v7.jpg

    • Mike Sixel, Cap'n Piranha, SwainZag and 7 others like this

The RP Board shows a lot of green again. Great to get a win and give the high-leverage guys a night off. They needed it.

 

Pineda was efficient and aggressive with the lead. A fine outing from the 5th starter. 

    • bighat, MN_ExPat and DannySD like this

What was with 'Richard' going on and on about how Sano's first double should've been caught and should've been ruled an error? The guy's been watching baseball for like 60 years and still doesn't know the threshold for outfield errors. The ball should've been caught, yes, but the fielder was sliding and didn't touch it. An outfielder basically has to be standing still and have the ball bounce out of his glove before they ever rule an error.

 

Love when Latroy Hawkins is in the both. He's so weird. 

    • Mike Sixel, Monkeypaws, bluechipper and 2 others like this
Photo
Tom Froemming
May 17 2019 07:16 AM

 

 

Love when Latroy Hawkins is in the both. He's so weird. 

I thought he was great last night too, helped keep a blowout interesting. He was so excited about one of the pitch sequences from Pineda to record a third out that they actually had to cut him off heading into the commercial.

    • Monkeypaws, dbminn, bighat and 2 others like this
Photo
stringer bell
May 17 2019 07:30 AM

LaTroy is excellent. Not far removed from the players and someone who hung around the majors for a long time. I really like his perspective.

 

Morneau is far better than I would have thought. I'd rather have Hawkins and Morneau than any of the other color analysts we've seen in the past few years (exception of Jim Kaat--far and away the best color guy still living).

    • Puckett34, Craig Arko, snepp and 7 others like this

I love being wrong on a negative prediction and am happy to eat crow on thinking the Twins would lose if Sano started his first game back. I would be very happy to be wrong on my other reservations about Sano. He does look to be in good shape based on video clips. Time will tell but last night speaks for itself. Twins now on another 3 game streak and nice to have big enough leads to give the pen a little leeway.

See how Perex does tonight. Go Twins!

Photo
Don't Feed the Greed Guy
May 17 2019 07:47 AM

 

"Michael Pineda has 48 swinging strikes among his 282 pitches over his last three starts. That is a 17.0 swinging strike rate. Blake Snell is the only qualified starter who has maintained a better rate this season."

The metrics on Pineda are fascinating, for a #5 starter over the first quarter of 2019. .245 BAbip when he wins, .362 BAbip when he loses. Blake Snell-like swing-and-miss stuff. -0.3 WAR... Team record of 4-5 in his nine starts.

 

Bottom line: Playoff teams have #5 starters whose records hover around .500. The top of the rotation creates the separation by winning two (or maybe three) for every loss. Perez (5-1), Gibson (4-1), Berrios (6-2), and Odorizzi (6-2) are doing just that, and then some.

 

This is the spot that gets upgraded as the Twins approach the trade deadline. Until then, I feel good about Pineda's production, at the bottom of the rotation. In poker terms, Pineda is a "hold" card in a five-card hand. In July, we "deal" for a new card, and raise.

    • MN_ExPat, railmarshalljon, DannySD and 1 other like this

Pineda...man, I don't know. Every time I thought he was getting into a groove he'd lob a meatball over the plate that would get smoked for a dinger. He's getting plenty of swinging strikes, but not getting enough Ks. I just don't feel that confident when he's starting, but maybe he's still pitching his way back into form after the injuries.

 

Duffey made the game look a little too close, giving up the 3-run bomb hurt. He's got to do better than that, but at least he was able to give the rest of the 'pen the night off in a game where Seattle had to go deep into theirs.

 

I like LaTroy on color too. He's more animated than Justin, but he does get a little distracted. Fine in a game that wasn't all that competitive, but I'd hate for him to fall into a pattern of yuckfests in closer games. When LaTroy is analyzing pitching patterns and pitch sequencing, it's really interesting and informative.

 

I will definitely take this version of Byron Buxton all year. I don't know if it's the coaching staff, improved health, being mad he didn't get the call up last year, or just needing the time to get it figured out but I'm glad it seems to be clicking for him.

    • puckstopper1 likes this

 

(exception of Jim Kaat--far and away the best color guy still living).

 

Did Kaat ever do a game with Vin Scully? I'd watch that just for the commentary!

    • tarheeltwinsfan and MN_ExPat like this
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railmarshalljon
May 17 2019 08:34 AM

Castro has an OPS of 1.025 this year lol. Not sure if he was feeling the heat from Garver or playing for his next contract but he's mashing in limited action this year. Platooning your catcher seems like a great idea though. 

 

Also, how many Twins will be represented at the allstar game this year? I would think Polanco is a lock while Odor is among the league leaders in various pitching categories. Anyone else I'm missing?

Not too long ago Pineda would have been our number one: a former Yankee, throws 95 mph, paid $10 million as a free agent. We've had worse starters pitching our season opener. Hell yeah I'll take that as a number five. And he's still getting better.

    • Han Joelo and DannySD like this

 

The metrics on Pineda are fascinating, for a #5 starter over the first quarter of 2019. .245 BAbip when he wins, .362 BAbip when he loses. Blake Snell-like swing-and-miss stuff. -0.3 WAR... Team record of 4-5 in his nine starts.

 

Bottom line: Playoff teams have #5 starters whose records hover around .500. The top of the rotation creates the separation by winning two (or maybe three) for every loss. Perez (5-1), Gibson (4-1), Berrios (6-2), and Odorizzi (6-2) are doing just that, and then some.

 

This is the spot that gets upgraded as the Twins approach the trade deadline. Until then, I feel good about Pineda's production, at the bottom of the rotation. In poker terms, Pineda is a "hold" card in a five-card hand. In July, we "deal" for a new card, and raise.

Comparing 3 games for Pineda's swinging strike% to everyone else's full season is a little misleading.But he is still very good in the category for the year(21st in MLB).Blake Snell is 19.3% compared to Pineda's 12.3% so there is a good bit of separation between the two.Pineda's best game of the year was lower than Snell's season average.I wouldn't say Pineda has Snell-like swing and miss stuff but he is similar to the Shane Bieber and Trevor Bauer marks.

 

Interestingly enough Kyle Gibson ranks 20th in the same category with 12.4%.They are both among some elite names in the top 25.Wouldn't have expected Berrios to be 4th on our staff in swstr% (52nd in MLB, Odorizzi 34th).

    • spycake and MN_ExPat like this

 

Cruz had a sore wrist. He'll likely be back in the lineup today or tomorrow - Twins were just giving him some extra rest. He can play outfield and not drop routine fly balls if needed.

 

Garver's out until June 1 at least. Unfortunate.

With this line up, its not really a big deal. 

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Brock Beauchamp
May 17 2019 09:55 AM

It shouldn't be overlooked how important Pineda's performance was last night. The Twins haven't had a day off in a week and won't get a day off for another week. Their pen was shaken up quite a bit by that Angels series and they're in the first game of a seven game road stretch.

 

Going seven innings is a really big deal in that situation.

    • ashbury, Danchat, Dman and 5 others like this

Pen still an issue.  Last two games should have been easy wins, but runs late show the lack of depth in the pen.  I'm afraid what we are going to get from Duffy is what we saw last night.  Inconsistency.  Hildy is the better pitcher with the better track record.  We need him to figure it back out down in AAA.

 

We also should be looking for a better than average arm.  Surprised Adams did not come in the game last night to get his feet wet.  Know he is a vet, but low leverage probably a good spot.  Not very excited about him on the staff.

 

Surprised Adams did not come in the game last night to get his feet wet.

Both teams should have pitched their respective Austin Adamses. :)

    • rghrbek and MN_ExPat like this

9 total bases out of Sano and Buxton.How many times do you suppose we saw that in 2018?

    • birdwatcher likes this

 

This is the spot that gets upgraded as the Twins approach the trade deadline. Until then, I feel good about Pineda's production, at the bottom of the rotation. In poker terms, Pineda is a "hold" card in a five-card hand. In July, we "deal" for a new card, and raise.

Given the fact that Pineda missed an entire season, it's also possible he will get better as the year goes on.Three solo HRs isn't that big of a deal when you've got a big lead - much more important that he gave them 7 innings.

    • MN_ExPat likes this

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