MIN 4, KC 2: Comeback Complete
Image courtesy of Denny Medley-USA TODAY SportsSnapshot (chart via Fangraphs)
Jorge Polanco … the team’s No. 3 hitter tonight … the guy who has an OPS over 1.000 since the start of August … was asked to bunt with no outs in the eighth. The Twins would end up not scoring.
The very next inning, however, Polanco was given a chance to hit and delivered the go-ahead two-run single after Brian Dozier tied things up with a sac fly. All’s well that ends well.
Kyle Gibson had another strong start, though it was in an unconventional way. He went 7.0 innings and held the Royals to two runs despite not striking out a single batter. Nobody in the bullpen recorded a strikeout, either. The Royals, who are still notorious for their ability to put the ball in play, hit into four double plays.
It’s easy for late-season hot streaks to go unappreciated. Gibby still has a 5.19 ERA on the year, but coming into tonight he had been among the better starting pitchers in the AL since the All-Star break. It’s true.
In his previous seven starts, Gibson had a 3.29 ERA, was 10th in FIP (3.11) among all pitchers and 11th in WAR (1.3) among AL pitchers (min. 40 IP). After watching Kyle throw more than 700 innings with the Twins now, I think we can safely say we know who he is, but there’s no denying the guy is on a great hot streak right now. It’s coming at a great time.
Belisle has also had quite the turnaround, but he had actually given up four earned runs over his previous six innings pitched prior to tonight’s game. Even with the expanded bullpen, he’s such a pivotal guy. It was great to see him turn in a 1-2-3 ninth.
Joe Mauer was on base five times tonight. He had a double, two singles and a pair of walks. Robbie Grossman hit his ninth homer of the season, Max Kepler stole his sixth base and Trevor Hildenberger picked up his third win.
This victory put the Twins back in the second wild card spot. They lead the Angels, who were off today, by one game. Baltimore is two back after losing to the Yankees and Texas trails by 2.5 games. Cleveland won its 15th-straight game. Wow. They’ve really run away with the division.
Postgame With Gibson
Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days:
Fri: Twins (Ervin Santana) at Kansas City (Ian Kennedy), 7:15 pm CT
Sat: Twins (Jose Berrios) at Kansas City (Jake Junis), 6:15 pm CT
Sun: Twins (Bartolo Colon) at Kansas City (Jason Vargas), 1:15 pm CT
Wed: MIN 10, TB 6: Twins Prevail Thanks to Big Error
Tue: TB 2, MIN 0: Too Little, Too Late
Mon: TB 11, MIN 4: Bullpen Lets Game Get Out of Hand