Twins 8, Cleveland 4: Return of the Bomba Squad
Image courtesy of © Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY SportsBox Score
Hill: 5.0 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 7 K
Home Runs: Gonzalez (4), Astudillo (1), Buxton (8), Rosario (10), Sano (11)
Top 3 WPA: Gonzalez .157, Buxton .109, Rosario .087
Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs):
Minnesota scored three runs in the second. First, a slumping Marwin González broke a five-game hitless streak, smashing a second decker to center right, also scoring Brent Rooker, who doubled before him. A couple of innings later, he picked up his second hit of the night, making it his first multi-hit game since Aug. 23. This was only the second game with a hit for MarGo this month. Also, coming into tonight’s game, González was slashing .061/.158/.061 in the previous 12 games. What a nice way to snap a slump.
Willians Astudillo is living a completely opposite moment. He didn’t make his season debut until earlier this month, with tonight’s being only his sixth game of the season. Fortunately, he’s been scorching hot in that span and he hit his first home run of the season, giving the Twins back-to-back home runs and a 3-0 lead. It was a curious one, too. The ball came off his bat at 107.6 mph, the hardest hit ball of his career, but only with a 16 degree launch angle, the lowest of his career and tied for the lowest in baseball this season.
Meanwhile, Rich Hill had no trouble pitching three scoreless innings to start the game, including an impressive performance in the second, in which he struck out the side, even though he fell behind in the count three times against the two batters he faced. But he pitched himself into a jam in the fourth, giving up a leadoff home run to José Ramírez that put Cleveland on the board, and then allowing Carlos Santana and Jordan Luplow to reach. The Indians came even closer with an Oscar Mercado sac fly that scored their second run, but “Dick Mountain” struck out the next batter to end the inning.
Byron Buxton gave him a little breathing room in the bottom half of the inning, hitting a two-run bomb to center, his eighth of the year, pushing the lead back to three.
Hill came back for a final inning and pitched a scoreless fifth, making this arguably his best start of the season. He struck out a season best seven batters and had his highest single game WPA in the year, at .083, per Fangraphs. His curveball was outstanding tonight, as it produced seven swings and misses and allowed only one hit.
Mistakes lead to some drama
Cleveland came back to score a couple of runs more, with the help of some sloppy defense. In the sixth, Matt Wisler gave up a leadoff walk to Santana, who advanced to second on a passed ball. Luplow then hit a ball well into deep center, but not long enough to become a homer. Buxton got under it to make a not so hard catch, but he lost track of the wall, this time expecting to hit it before he actually did, instead of crashing into it. While still in the air, he caught the ball, but dropped it, allowing Luplow to reach third and Santana to score.
Tyler Clippard was pitching in the eighth and gave up a leadoff single to Ramírez, who later stole second and moved to third on a wild pitch. Tyler Duffey took over for his first outing in six days, to try and finish it, but a bad pitch led to a passed ball that allowed Ramírez to cut Minnesota’s lead to only one run.
Eddie and Sanó to the rescue!
Things didn’t look great to start the bottom half of the eighth, as the Indians got two quick outs against the top of the order. Home plate umpire Mark Carlson played a huge role in Josh Donaldson’s strikeout, with a terrible third strike call. But Nelson Cruz drew a vital four-pitch walk to keep the inning alive, allowing Eddie Rosario to jump on the first pitch and give the Twins some key run support.
Still hitless on the night at that point, Miguel Sanó followed Rosie’s homer with a solo shot of his own, making it a four run lead for Minnesota. Miggy’s homer was the fifth in the game, a season high for the Twins. The previous high came on the first week of the season, when they hit four against the White Sox on July 26. Taylor Rogers closed out the game with an uneventful ninth, to secure the series win.
Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet
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