Twins Game Recap (8/23): Berríos, Bullpen Can’t Hold Baseball’s Worst Offense
Image courtesy of FanGraphsBox Score
Berríos: 5.1 IP, 10 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 70.9% strikes (66 of 93 pitches)
Bullpen: 3.2 IP, 7 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 3 K
Home Runs: Sanó, 2 (25), Cave, 2 (4)
Multi-Hit Games: Sanó (2-for-4, 2 HR, 3 RBI), Cave (2-for-2, 2 HR, 2 RBI, BB), Castro (2-for-4)
Top 3 WPA: Cave .134, Sanó .106, May .042
Bottom 3 WPA: Berríos -.357, Kepler -.122, Romo -.101
The Twins missed out on a great opportunity. They were facing the league’s least productive offense and somehow they were out-hit 17 to 9. The Tigers are also the seventh worst pitching staff in baseball in total strikeouts, but they managed to strike out Twins batters 14 times, including 11 for the starter Drew VerHagen. With the loss and the Cleveland win, the Twins lead atop of the Central now shrinks to two and a half games.
All Eyes on La Makina
Everybody is still looking for answers as to why José Berríos (La Makina, "The Machine") is having such an abysmal month of August. Earlier this week Ted Schwerzler put together a list of some weird numbers from his season, to help us investigate. The fact is, the version of Berríos we have witnessed in his previous three starts of the month just wasn't the real him. Tonight, he had the chance to shake off the worst month of his career since his rookie season.
However, things didn’t start as smoothly as one would think they would against the team with the worst record in baseball. In the first two innings of action, he gave up three hits and walked former Twin Niko Goodrum. He managed to strand all runners, though.
In support of their ace, the bats started working early. They manufactured the game’s first run in the first, after a single by Jorge Polanco (Chulo, “Pretty Boy”), followed by a Nelson Cruz (Boomstick) double, which was absolutely crushed: the ball left his bat at 115.1 mph--only his fifth hardest-hit ball of the season.
On the second pitch of the home half of the second, the ball was smoked again. Miguel Sanó (Boquetón, “Large Mouth”) clobbered a hanging slider from VerHagen, good for 109.9 mph. That was his 24th of the season.
Stay hot, Caveman!
While Berríos stabilized a bit, allowing only a couple of runners to reach in the following three innings, he got some more run support. Since being called up for the fourth time this year, to replace an injured Byron Buxton, Jake Cave (Caveman) is making the most of it. This month, he’s the only Twin not named Nelson Cruz to be hitting above .400. Before this game, he was averaging .405 since August 3, when he got called up. He crushed his third dinger of the year in the fifth, to make it 3-0 Twins.
Cave would also make his presence felt on defense later in the game, when he robbed Miguel Cabrera of an RBI-extra base hit in the eighth, with a beautiful leaping grab near the warning track.
‘August Berríos’ strikes again
Five shutout innings, which weren’t brilliant, of course, and we all thought José was finally getting rid of the funk. We were wrong. Three straight hits to open the sixth put Detroit on the board. After Berríos gave up a one-out walk that loaded the bases, Ronny Rodriguez made him pay, hitting a grand slam to give the Tigers their first lead of the night, 5-3.
With that home run, Berríos has now allowed 20 earned runs this August, which is already the second most he’s allowed in any month of his career. The only time he’s given up more than that, 21, was in (surprise, surprise) August 2016. It’s not time to jump to any conclusions, but if Wes Johnson and the coaching staff don’t figure out in the next few weeks what’s wrong with Berríos, this version of him is bound to be crushed in October.
Bullpen can’t stop the bleeding either
Detroit never actually stopped hitting and scoring. Tyler Duffey (The Doof) and Trevor May (IAMTREVORMAY) managed to keep the game within reach after taking over from Berríos in the sixth and the seventh. But the same thing didn’t happen in the final two innings. Sergio Romo (El Mechón, “The Frosted Tips” or “The Padlock”) and Ryne Harper (Harp) allowed three hits and two earned runs each.
Harper’s outing was even more harmful to the Twins, because Miguel Sanó hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the eighth, making it a two-run game, 7-5. But Detroit responded immediately and made it a four-run game in the ninth. Just like Sanó, Cave also went on to record his first multi-HR game of the season, hitting a solo shot in the bottom of the ninth. With the four homers, the Twins now have 248 on the year, 20 short of the MLB record.
Postgame With Baldelli
Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet
Click here for a review of the number of pitches thrown by each member of the bullpen over the past five days.
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