MIN 5, SDP 2: Don’t Need a Closer When You’ve Got Erv
Image courtesy of Jake Roth-USA TODAY SportsWin Expectancy (via Fangraphs)
What a performance. Santana gave up two runs on four hits and a walk. He lived in the strike zone all game, throwing 82 of his 110 pitches on the day for strikes. But that wasn’t all.
Santana also did something that has been seemingly impossible for the regular lineup to do. He got a hit with two outs and the bases loaded. With the game scoreless in the top of the second inning, Ervin chopped a two-run single past the first baseman.
That gives Santana five RBI on the season, which is the most by an AL pitcher since the debut of interleague play. Miguel Sano also had a great day, going 2-for-4 with his 25th home run of the season, tying his career high. It took him 116 games to hit that mark last season, and just 98 this year.
With Brian Dozier getting a rare day off, Joe Mauer hit out of the leadoff spot, and it was a good look. Mauer was 2-for-3 with a walk. Eduardo Escobar got the start at second base, and he provided a two-RBI single. Jorge Polanco was the shortstop, and recorded a double. It was his first extra-base hit since July 3.
Of course, it wasn't all sunshine and butterflies for the Twins. Mauer led off the game with a double, which was followed by Escobar laying down a sacrifice bunt ... to make the very first out of the ballgame ... just to move Mauer to third.
You may be thinking, "Well hey, you never know, he could score from third on a passed ball. Can't do that from second." Well, that's exactly what Mauer tried to do ... but instead he made the third out at home ... with Sano in the batter's box.
The Twins got bunt happy again in the sixth inning. Rosario reached on an error to lead it off. Already on second base, and with the Twins up 5-2, Byron Buxton bunted Rosie over to third. It didn't stop there. With a 2-1 count, one out in the inning and Rosario on third, Polanco showed bunt. He took the pitch, but Rosario was caught too far off third, got in a rundown and eventually was tagged out.
We're wandering way out into nit-pick city now, but another thing you won't see in the box score is a couple of misreads, albeit followed by great recoveries, by Rosario in left field.
The first one of those was hit right on the screws and right at him. Those are always difficult to read. The second, it seemed like he either didn't have a great feel for how far that ball was going to travel or where the wall was. Again, a couple of fine adjustments to make those plays, but Rosario isn't having his best season out in left.
And last night, Max Kepler let a ball fall in for a double out in right that I think he'd catch more often than not. I wonder if there's been any thought of flip-flopping those two. I wouldn't usually endorse that kind of tinkering, but now would be the perfect time to give it a try.
Postgame With Molitor
Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days:
Thursday: Twins (Adalberto Mejia) vs. Texas (A.J. Griffin), 7:10 pm CT
Griffin will be making his first start off the DL. His last outing was May 27. He’s been recovering from an intercostal strain. The right-hander has only made eight starts in 2017, posting a 5.77 ERA. He’s served up an eye-popping 12 home runs over just 39.0 innings (2.8 HR/9).
You’d usually expect a 24-year-old rookie to be inconsistent, but Mejia hasn’t given up more than four runs in eight straight starts. In five starts during July, Big Bert had a 3.49 ERA and 2.75 K:BB ratio. He still hasn’t found that Ervin-like knack for pitching deep into games (to be fair, who has?), but if that’s our biggest concern, that’s a pretty great situation to be in.
Friday: Twins (Bartolo Colon) vs. Texas (Martin Perez)
Saturday: Twins (TBD) vs. Texas (Cole Hamels)
Sunday: Twins (TBD) vs. Texas (Nick Martinez)
Next Series: Twins host the Brewers in a two-game series before heading to Milwaukee for two games.
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