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Twins 3, Cleveland 1: Buxton, Jeffers Sting Bieber; Maeda Sails Through 7

What a game. Kenta Maeda was masterful, Byron Buxton and Ryan Jeffers recorded the two hardest hit balls off Shane Bieber all season and the benches cleared. Cleveland got the game-tying run to the plate in the ninth inning as the rain fell at Target Field, but Taylor Rogers held on for the save.
Image courtesy of © Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
Box Score
Maeda: 7 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 7 K
Home Runs: Buxton (7), Jeffers (2)
Top 3 WPA: Maeda .430, Buxton .131, Romo .049
Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs):
Attached Image: Winchart.png
Shane Bieber entered tonight having only given up three earned runs in one of his nine starts in 2020. In fact, he gave up zero runs in five of those starts.

The Twins got to him early tonight. Byron Buxton blistered a two-run homer in the second inning that scored Jake Cave. An absolute laser beam, Buxton’s shot had a 111.5 mph exit velocity, the hardest hit ball Bieber had given up all season.

That was all the run support Kenta Maeda needed. He was simply brilliant once again for the Twins, holding Cleveland to just four hits over seven shutout innings. He had seven strikeouts, walked a pair of batters and threw 67% of his pitches for strikes.

The Twins are now 7-2 in games that Maeda starts. His ERA is down to 2.43 on the season, and he’s allowed just one earned run in 18 innings against Cleveland this year.

Buxton wasn’t able to boast about having the hardest hit ball off Bieber for long, as Ryan Jeffers topped his mark with an upper deck bomba in the seventh inning.

As a Twins fan, it’s almost deflating to see Cleveland churn out top of the rotation starters like it’s no big deal, but imagine what their fans, who have watched some pretty unimpressive offensive teams of late, feel about the Twins' hitting factory.

Sergio Romo picked up where Maeda left off and pitched a perfect eighth inning. It ended with Francisco Lindor popping out, smiling at Romo, then the two jawing at each other until the benches cleared.

Listen, I love Sergio Romo, but sooner or later stuff like this is going to get him or one of his teammates suspended. Or thrown at. MLB was clear coming into the season they weren’t going to tolerate stuff like this.

I’m not sure what was said, but Lindor is known as one of the most easy-going players in the league. Romo's intensity has clearly served him well over his remarkable career, but it's starting to feel like it'd be good to reel it in a bit. To let some stuff slide every now and then.

Cooler heads prevailed, Cleveland threatened in the ninth inning, but Taylor Rogers held on. José Ramirez blasted his 10th home run of the season to put Cleveland on the board, Franmil Reyes added a two-out double, but Rogers got Oscar Mercado to ground out to end the game.

Rogers picked up his ninth save, but has now surrendered seven earned runs (11 total) in 16 outings this year. Last season, he gave up his seventh earned run in his 24th appearance.

Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet
Attached Image: Bullpen.png

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23 Comments

This Justin...Bieber overrated.
    • PDX Twin, Platoon, JoshDungan1 and 3 others like this
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stringer bell
Sep 11 2020 10:12 PM

5-3 against Cleveland in the season series. The Twins need to win at least one more this weekend to clinch hold the tiebreaker, then beat the White Sox three of four.

 

I think Cleveland is the better team despite a less-than-stellar offense. They pitch better than anyone, have a nice defense and have the top pitcher in the AL. 

    • denarded, mikelink45 and Dman like this
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twinbythebay
Sep 11 2020 10:25 PM

 

5-3 against Cleveland in the season series. The Twins need to win at least one more this weekend to clinch hold the tiebreaker, then beat the White Sox three of four.

 

I think Cleveland is the better team despite a less-than-stellar offense. They pitch better than anyone, have a nice defense and have the top pitcher in the AL. 

Spoken like a true MN sports fan :)

 

As punchless as the Twins' offense has looked for much of the season, Cleveland's bats have been so, so much worse. If they could cobble together even a league average offense, look out.

    • mikelink45, tarheeltwinsfan and bighat like this

Sano the bouncer and peacekeeper. I like it.

    • Dantes929, USNMCPO, mikelink45 and 4 others like this
Jeffers and Astudillo raking.
    • Dman, blindeke, tarheeltwinsfan and 1 other like this

Sergio Romo is a proven player who competes his arse off. But tonighthe went too far - Cleveland is struggling why give them a jolt? 

    • mikelink45, Dman and tarheeltwinsfan like this
Must be a typo in those earlier comments because when these two teams get together it's clear the Twins are the better team. Maeda just hammers the point home. Tonight it was Buxton and Jeffers tomorrow who's next Donaldson, Cruz, Sano, Polanco?
    • blindeke, tarheeltwinsfan and Dozier's Glorious Hair like this
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Doctor Gast
Sep 12 2020 05:46 AM

I knew Maeda was going to help the Twins, he exceeded my my expectations. Great game 

    • mikelink45, Dman, bighat and 1 other like this
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stringer bell
Sep 12 2020 06:03 AM

Apologies for a muddled thought above. What I meant to say is that, of the two teams that the Twins are competing with to win the Central Division, I think Cleveland is the better team. This may or may not be proven in the shortened regular season. IMHO the Twins are better than either the White Sox or Cleveland and so far that has shown in their head-to-head matchups.

    • glunn, Dman, tarheeltwinsfan and 2 others like this

Dick Bremer: "Bieber and Giolito are probably the best two right-handers in the league"

 

My first thought was, what about Maeda? I mean surely Bieber is the best in baseball, but Maeda's numbers match up with both of those guys and he's a TWIN!

 

Dude's gotta be the most underrated/forgotten pitcher in baseball right now. Only because Rogers has blown 3 wins for him (and worked on blowing another last night). Speaking of, no more 9th innings for Rogers. How about Duffey, Wisler, or May from now on?

    • glunn, Dantes929, mikelink45 and 6 others like this

I really wonder what is wrong with Rogers.I have no faith in him anymore.But to go from dominating to middling reliever seems odd without an injury or some other factor.I know RP are notorious for up and down seasons, but Taylor seemed so solid. 

 

Jeffers has reached a point where I would hate to see Garver or Avila replace him.

 

Final thought - Gonzales now has a 200 BA - he has continually gone down hill in the batting department.Why not Blankenhorn?I would even use Astudillo for the bat.  

 

    • glunn, adjacent, h2oface and 5 others like this

 

I really wonder what is wrong with Rogers.I have no faith in him anymore.But to go from dominating to middling reliever seems odd without an injury or some other factor.I know RP are notorious for up and down seasons, but Taylor seemed so solid. 

 

Jeffers has reached a point where I would hate to see Garver or Avila replace him.

 

Final thought - Gonzales now has a 200 BA - he has continually gone down hill in the batting department.Why not Blankenhorn?I would even use Astudillo for the bat.  

I agree on Rogers. He has been mediocre to brutal all year. He cannot be our closer in the play-offs if we have any intention of advancing. Rocco seems incredibly stubborn on this though. 

    • mikelink45, bighat and JDubs like this

Maeda's starts are a must watch. So fun to watch him pitch. That trade is working out very nicely for the Twins, regardless of what Graterol does for the Dodgers. I like the fact that they are letting him go deeper into games now as well. I've been really impressed with his control this season but even if he regresses a bit on the walks he's still going to be excellent. Bieber is the obvious pick for the Cy this year, but Maeda deserves some votes and attention.

 

 

    • glunn, D.C Twins and wabene like this

Final thought - Gonzales now has a 200 BA - he has continually gone down hill in the batting department. Why not Blankenhorn? I would even use Astudillo for the bat.


Aaron Gleeman wrote about this on The Athletic. It may be Blankenhorn by default. Vargas was claimed by the Cubs... Nick Gordon is still unavailable to play, and Lewis has no experience playing 2B. Not to mention a waste of an option year for Lewis because Arraez is expected to be back for the playoffs.
    • glunn, Danchat, mikelink45 and 1 other like this
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stringer bell
Sep 12 2020 08:40 AM

Maeda has been excellent. His ERA isn't close to Bieber's, but he has been both efficient and effective. His WHIP is the best in baseball. When he has exited mid-inning, Twins relievers have allowed runners to score, also he has given up some multi-run innings. Maeda is 11th in IP, 18th in K's per inning and 11th in ERA. In this abbreviated season, I think that is "ace territory".

    • glunn, Danchat, spycake and 3 others like this

How many of us have said, "The Twins are a much better team when Buxton is playing?" I know I have on several occasions. And last night he was huge, again.

 

Didn't think Jeffers was ready for the big leagues when he arrived. Kid is getting invaluable experience and is starting to look like he belongs. Will be interesting to see who the starting catcher is next year? Only problem is that Garver and Jeffers are both right handed hitters. 

 

Like many of us I was disappointed to see Graterol traded to the Dodgers. Still would like to see him in a Twins bullpen, but that trade sure as heck is working out great for the Twins. All of you searching for a Twins ACE, may not need to keep looking. Maeda, Berrios and Pineda are looking great for a 3-game series. Should be interesting battle between Odorizzi, Hill and Dobnak for the 4th spot in the rotation should the Twins get past round one.

    • glunn, Dman, bighat and 2 others like this
Excited to see where Hill is today. The top three are set and look great, Maeda, Pineda and Berrios. Very nice and quite the improvement from last year. Maeda is driven and wants to be relied upon as a top starter. The Twins will keep him happy by keeping him in the rotation. Hill, on the other hand, could be quite valuable in a hybrid role of shorter outings in the short series. Now who steps forward in the next couple of weeks to be the 4th guy when we need it later? Odo, Hill? Dobs doesn't have my confidence as a playoff starter but my also be useful for shorter outings.
    • glunn and rdehring like this

Dick Bremer: "Bieber and Giolito are probably the best two right-handers in the league"

My first thought was, what about Maeda? I mean surely Bieber is the best in baseball, but Maeda's numbers match up with both of those guys and he's a TWIN!

Dude's gotta be the most underrated/forgotten pitcher in baseball right now. Only because Rogers has blown 3 wins for him (and worked on blowing another last night).


I think it is track record more than wins. Maeda has been great this year, but only this year — 9 starts. Bieber and Giolito were aces last year too.

Hopefully Maeda has nice deep postseason run to make his case this year, though!
    • bighat likes this
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FritzDahmus
Sep 12 2020 10:12 AM

Lindor is NOT the easy-going player everyone thinks he is. Evidence: his over the top chattering in Cleveland when when Romo was on the mound. Last night his "smile" that would provoke anybody [after his chattering in Cleveland]. It appeared initially, that Romo was going to put some distance between him and the chattering in Cleveland [good idea Romo...just pitch!!].

 

Or...Clear the benches and let the boys work it out. Lindor needs a smack in the face. Lots of players have obnoxious antics and mannerisms that agitate. At some point, Lindor has to put on the gloves or let it alone.

 

If it affects Lindor that much....then maybe Romo's antics are working.

 

Rogers needs to start placing his pitches in another spot....other than the heart of the plate!! His curve ball is waiting to be smacked, and the fastball is 95 and right down the middle. he is getting what he dishes up there.

    • glunn likes this
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twinbythebay
Sep 12 2020 10:56 AM

Like many Twins fans, this year's results have certainly led me to have far less confidence in Rogers than I had last year. That being said, I think he still has the best overall "stuff" in the bullpen, and I don't see any obviously better options to replace him as closer. At one point this season, I may have suggested Duffey, but he has been knocked around quite a bit lately as well (his hard hit rate this season is 50%! That's bad). May gives up far too many home runs, and I think it's very likely the Twins let him walk after this season. Romo and Wisler have been effective this season, but they just aren't the type of pitchers I'd be comfortable trusting to close games on a regular basis.

 

I know people are sick of hearing this, but Rogers really is being stung by quite a bit of bad luck this season. His BABIP is .413, his walk rate is lower than last year, his K rate is only down slightly, his FIP and xFIP are about 1.5 runs lower than his ERA, and according to Statcast, his expected ERA is almost a full run lower than his actual ERA. His hard hit % and barrel % are definitely way up from last season, but his hard hit % is still much lower than Duffey's.

 

Given that he's only pitched 15 innings this season and none of his underlying numbers are raising any obvious red flags, I still think his stellar performance since 2018 has earned him the benefit of the doubt. I guess this is just part of life with relievers. They're going to have their ups and downs, especially when you're only looking at 15 inning samples. I would hope that the Twins aren't as reactionary as many of their fans in this regard and are basing their decisions on solid evidence instead of the somewhat random results of a small sample.

 

Edit: One possible theory that just occurred to me is that maybe he's being hurt by pitching almost exclusively to AL Central teams this season, who have all seen a lot of him over the past couple of years? If this is part of why he's having issues, he may be much more effective in the playoffs against teams that haven't seen him nearly as much.

    • glunn, wabene and GNess like this
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drivlikejehu
Sep 12 2020 11:04 AM

 

I think it is track record more than wins. Maeda has been great this year, but only this year — 9 starts. Bieber and Giolito were aces last year too.

Hopefully Maeda has nice deep postseason run to make his case this year, though!

 

It's interesting. Maeda's improvement seems to be mostly the result of throwing more sliders, which is getting him more ground balls and increasing the rate of hitters chasing outside the zone. Increase in breaking ball usage is a much-discussed MLB-wide trend the past few years, but Maeda seems to be benefitting more than most despite the fact he already threw a ton of off-speed pitches.

 

On the flip side though, it's hard to see how those relatively minor changes in Maeda's pitch mix would sustainably elevate him all the way from a good #3 starter to a #1. That would be an unfair expectation driven by Twins' fans thirst for a true ace.

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puckstopper1
Sep 12 2020 01:17 PM

 

Edit: One possible theory that just occurred to me is that maybe he's being hurt by pitching almost exclusively to AL Central teams this season, who have all seen a lot of him over the past couple of years? If this is part of why he's having issues, he may be much more effective in the playoffs against teams that haven't seen him nearly as much.

Add Milwaukee to this as Rogers always seems to struggle against them also...

Lindor needs a smack in the face? I doubt it.

 

Baseball players can be the biggest posers there are. They charge out of the dugouts over nothing. They act like they want to fight like a jr high school kid, but they really don't. And then fans act like they are tough, and talk tough, like they should be in a silly school yard fight. Nothing is going to happen if the two just jaw at each other, and no one is going to protect or "have their back" by coming out of the dugout and pushing each other away from some place they don't even need to be. Always the dumbest and silliest thing that happens in baseball.