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Twins Game Recap (9/6): Offense Dominated as Twins Fall in Extras

The Twins dropped game one of the pivotal three-game series against the Cleveland Indians, 6-2 at Target Field. The loss came in heart-breaking fashion, as the Twins pitchers managed to limit Cleveland offense to only two runs in regulation, but Minnesota itself couldn’t score enough either. In extra innings, Graterol had his first big league rough outing.
Image courtesy of FanGraphs
Box Score
Pineda: 6.0 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 10 K, 66.3% strikes (71 of 107 pitches)
Bullpen: 5.0 IP, 6 H, 5 ER, 4 BB, 3 K

Home Runs: None
Multi-Hit Games: Kepler (2-for-5), Polanco (2-for-, RBI)

Top 3 WPA: Pineda .244, Littell .144, May .098
Bottom 3 WPA: Graterol -.447, Sanó -.155, Romo -.129

Pineda is lights-out again
We’re barely one week into September. It’s too early to jump to any conclusions, but I don’t see why we can’t be excited by some good signs. Take the rotation, for instance. Twins starters were among the ten least productive units in all baseball during August. Now, they’re starting (OK, maybe timidly) to get back on track. Tonight’s outing from Michael Pineda was another indication of this.

To provide some context, the Twins rotation was among the bottom ten worst in the league in ERA (5.48), WPA (-1.40), WHIP (1.59) and AVG (.294) last month. Coming into tonight’s game, those numbers had improved to 4.70 ERA, 0.09 WPA, 1.17 WHIP and .227 AVG. All of those numbers are going to look even better after Pineda kept the Indians’ offense on a leash, going six innings and allowing only one run on four hits, while striking out ten Cleveland batters. The only run came off a Francisco Lindor solo homer in the third.

That’s definitely not a fluke for Big Mike. After a rocky start of the season in April, he’s been the Twins best starter since the start of May, posting a team-best 3.46 ERA since then. And that was true even before tonight’s game, as he had a 1.31 WPA (also a team-best) on that same period, more than twice as much as the second starter on that list (Jake Odorizzi, 0.65). Pineda has been great fuel for Minnesota’s playoff push, in the midst of chaos caused by the José Berríos struggles, the Kyle Gibson injuries and the lack of consistency from Odorizzi and Martín Pérez.

Bullpen does its part in regulation
This is how amazing the Twins bullpen has turned out to be in the past weeks:


After their performance against the Red Sox in the three-game series in Boston, they earned even more credit, as they took care of business all by themselves in the series opener and shut down the world champions in the following two games.

Tonight, they had to work under pressure, as the offense couldn’t provide them with enough run support. Sergio Romo gave up a leadoff triple in the eighth to Oscar Mercado and went on to retire all the remaining batters he faced. However, one of them, Yasiel Puig, managed to score Mercado on a sacrifice fly, which tied the game. Trevor May and Zack Littell both had scoreless innings, with Littell picking off the runner at first to help end the ninth.

Quiet night from the offense leads to extras
For the third consecutive game, Twins bats were held back. They couldn’t score more than a couple of runs to back up Pineda and the bullpen. C.J. Cron and Jorge Polanco each batted in a run. They weren’t able to respond after the Indians tied it in the ninth, but they threatened. LaMonte Wade Jr. drew a walk, to bring his OBP to .385, in spite of still not having a hit in the majors.

Graterol can’t handle first big challenge
After Cody Stashak and Lewis Thorpe alternated to pitch through the tenth inning, rookie Brusdar Graterol was handed a two-out, one man on situation in the eleventh. He faced four batters, but couldn’t retire any of them. A couple of singles from Roberto Pérez and Lindor gave the Indians a two-run lead. With Trevor Hildenberger pitching, Mercado hit a two-run single to put this one away, doubling their lead.

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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35 Comments

Very winnable game. The Graterol move was not sensible. Once they didn't get it done in the 9th and
10th it was not encouraging. Wasted a great effort by Pineda.
    • Jerr, cjj td, Florida Loggerman and 3 others like this

Do we really want a pull shift on a right hand batter when our guy is throwing 98 mph?Ok, I know all the stats must support it but it still stings a little to see a weak grounder directtly at the traditional 2nd baseman position go for a hit and be the difference in the game. Tough game.Cleveland made some nice plays.

    • h2oface, Kelly Vance, Halsey Hall and 8 others like this

I think the game gave some strong indications about a few post season questions. First, Thorpe is best utilized as a lefty specialist at this point and pushing beyond that is asking for trouble. Second, Graterol is not ready to contribute in high leverage situations (meaning he's not making the playoff roster).

    • Platoon, Florida Loggerman and 3balls2strikes like this
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Aerodeliria
Sep 06 2019 11:18 PM
I honestly don't understand the 10th inning. I thought we were going to play the long game. Littel 2.0; then Thorpe for 2.0; then whoever. Cleveland had to play the desperation game but not us...a bit of a head scratcher to me.
    • Jerr, shimrod, 3balls2strikes and 2 others like this
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terrydactyls1947
Sep 07 2019 12:06 AM

Yesterday was Friday, September 6. It was the 141st game of the year putting the Twins 87% of the way through the season. The Twins hit 0 home runs keeping their record-breaking season total at 272 home runs.

 

    • Jerr likes this

People are obsessed with the home run.  Yankees may pass us.  I personally don't care if we are set up for the playoffs.  Nice outing from Pneda.  Need more of that.

 

    • SQUIRREL, Jerr and Platoon like this
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Florida Loggerman
Sep 07 2019 02:07 AM

trying to compete with just a bunch of kids out of the minors???? FO really is responsible for this kind of loss.Plus, I sure would have reather seen Mike pitch as deep as he could, he was dealing big time, get him into the 8th, and then let Duffey close it out. screw Romo, 36 and past his time he's lke Morin, McGill, Harper && Mejia, toast

    • Kelly Vance likes this
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SarasotaBill
Sep 07 2019 05:15 AM

Wade, Baldelli, Johnson deserve F's for last night's game.

 

1. Wade must understand the game situation up by one run in a low scoring game that he can't take an unnecessary chance (esp. when his dive is short by 4 feet) to turn a bloop double into a triple.

2. Baldelli & Johnson set up Graterol to fail. First batter is a little weak .229 hitter so they order two sliders from a rookie pitcher who throws 99 MPH. Stats must be used correctly. If a weak hitter normally pulls the ball, what does he do against top pitchers or top velocity. Perez is a .225 hitter standing three feet from the plate. The most likely event is a slap hit in the opposite direction against 99 MPH. Let a new rookie who sure is going to amp'd up to pitch to his strengths.  

    • h2oface, Kelly Vance, shimrod and 3 others like this
That loss irks me. The Indians are down and out. Instead of doing everything you can to out them away, you decide the 10th inning with 2 outs and runners on is the time to experiment with the 2nd major inning for a rookie 20 year old.

I get that you have to see what you have in Graterol, but in that game? You should have 4-5 guys sitting down there that could come in and get a bum like Perez without issue.

Another on the long-line of questionable decision making by Baldelli. All he’s doing is giving the Indians life.
    • Jerr, Kelly Vance and In My La-Z-boy like this
When you don't score 8 runs a game, little things get noticed. 1B defense which had been claimed as unimportant becomes important. Diving at fly balls that land 4' away, and wild pitches turned into a base. Three wild pitches went past Castro/Garver. The first two there were men on third and normally would have scored two, and extra inning would not have been necessary. The third one finally caught up to the Twins. The whole catching down on one knee, especially with men on base seems silly. You can't shift, not only side ways, but up and down. Neither Castro or Garver could be consider extremely athletic as it is, and this simply immobilizes them further! Not all wild pitches are created equal, some are so easily blocked the scoring should be allowed as a passed ball.
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In My La-Z-boy
Sep 07 2019 06:37 AM

Very frustrating. Positives are the way I want to wake up this morning. For the playoffs -We have a solid #1 starter. Wade won't be in right field. Rookies won't be put in high-leverage situations. Buxton & Gonzalez will be in the lineup. Back end of our bullpen will be rested and available. Will open up on the road.
I sure hope Rocco plays tonight and tomorrow like playoff games. The only chance the Indians have is to sweep us now. We may have given them last night with some of our decisions. Pressure is on us tonight I think.

    • SQUIRREL and Jerr like this

Cruz with a sore wrist. Buxton can't swing a bat. Cave hurt. Gonzalez has been out so long he's been forgotten. Sano's back in a strikeout groove.

 

This team has scored 2 runs the past 3 games, can't push runs across the board and is looking to guys like Schoop and Cron to somehow carry them across the finish line.

 

Nathan Eovaldi and his 5.77 ERA dominated the Twins, as did Eduardo Rodriguez and his 3.87 ERA. Adam Plutko lugs his very average 4.44 ERA into last night's game, and the same thing happens.

 

I have no problems with the Gaterol stuff. This game should have been won much earlier and the offense deserves 100% of the blame and needs a shot in the arm. This race isn't over and the Indians could very will win the remaining 5 games against the Twins at this rate.

    • ashbury, brvama and PDX Twin like this
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Tom Froemming
Sep 07 2019 07:08 AM

Here's the Twins Pitch, which includes all 10 of Pineda's Ks in a 24-second burst.

    • h2oface and VivaBomboRivera! like this
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Old Twins Cap
Sep 07 2019 07:18 AM

Getting to bea trend:Twins can't score runs at home when they need them.

 

Lots of extra inning walk-offs did not happen this year.

 

Whole games worth.

    • ashbury and bighat like this

trying to compete with just a bunch of kids out of the minors???? FO really is responsible for this kind of loss. Plus, I sure would have reather seen Mike pitch as deep as he could, he was dealing big time, get him into the 8th, and then let Duffey close it out. screw Romo, 36 and past his time he's lke Morin, McGill, Harper && Mejia, toast

Big Mike DID "pitch as deep as he could."

He was over 100 pitches (for the first time this year I believe) and clearly running out of gas in the 6th. He gutted that inning out, but he was done.

I dont think Duffey was available.

Romo did just fine, he gave up a shallow pop fly that nobody could get to. Probably should have been a double instead of a triple, but either way, just one of those things. Kepler had a similar hit earlier in the game (also should have been a double, if Kepler runs hard out of the box.)

I do agree I hated to see Graterol decide the game.

Still and all, this one's on the offense mostly.
    • brvama, Dantes929, SwainZag and 4 others like this
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Halsey Hall
Sep 07 2019 07:29 AM

I thought the same thing. 

Is it just me, or does Graterol seem to be easy to hit, with lots of velocity, but not much movement on the heater? Is the management instructing him to hold back a bit.... I mean.... in the minors he was over 100 a lot, and has he even hit that threshold in the show? It seems every batter is having little problem making contact.

 

Bats have to hit good pitching, too. If not, it will be a very short ALDS. I mean, Verlander is pitching a no-hitter in September, and Cole is banging out the Ks. It looks like it will be a good thing not to have home field advantage for this team. Of course, it could be the Yankees instead. Oh joy.

Tough loss.Lots of would'a, could'a, should'a to second guess.Time to move on to tonight, which becomes a huge start for Odorizzi and the bomba bats.

    • SQUIRREL likes this

 

Big Mike DID "pitch as deep as he could."

He was over 100 pitches (for the first time this year I believe) and clearly running out of gas in the 6th. He gutted that inning out, but he was done.

I dont think Duffey was available.

Romo did just fine, he gave up a shallow pop fly that nobody could get to. Probably should have been a double instead of a triple, but either way, just one of those things. Kepler had a similar hit earlier in the game (also should have been a double, if Kepler runs hard out of the box.)

I do agree I hated to see Graterol decide the game.

Still and all, this one's on the offense mostly.

I agree with all but the Graterol part. Its fine if you think the leverage was too high for a guy that fresh and I wouldn't have been against bringing in Dyson instead but everyone gives up runs.Thorpe's wild pitch got the runner in scoring position provoking the intentional walk. Weak ground ball in the right spot and then a sharp Lindor liner that could have been caught. There were lots of ways that frame could have turned out different but thats baseball and I think it kind of silly to come to any conclusions about Graterol based on that performance.I also think Kepler not gettingto 2nd on that hit was huge though he obviously never saw it or thought it might be fair. Not sure I have ever seen anything quite like that.Anywaya whole lot of small plays made up that game, some for us and too many against. The guy that beat us was Lindor with his offense and defense and it wasn't the first time and I am guessing it won''t be the last.  

    • SQUIRREL, Kelly Vance and Hosken Bombo Disco like this

 

Big Mike DID "pitch as deep as he could." He was over 100 pitches (for the first time this year I believe) ...

Still and all, this one's on the offense mostly.

109 pitches against Oakland in July, upon checking, but yeah, good memory, I would have guessed more than that.

 

Concur on the blame. It's fun to debate how to eke out a close win, because sometimes you'll have those situations and want to win your share, but through 9 innings the pitching and defense did their job and the offense mostly did not, and we should not have been faced with Graterol or whoever in a high leverage 11th inning situation if the offense had.

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jorgenswest
Sep 07 2019 09:23 AM
Absolutely they should put Graterol in high leverage. If not don’t put him on the 40.

They also should have let him battle the first batter instead of putting him on first after 2-0.

Get him back out there in high leverage this week.
    • Dantes929 and Hosken Bombo Disco like this

Lot of finger pointing going around.Hard to win games when you score 2 runs through 11 innings.  

    • SQUIRREL, ashbury and Tom Froemming like this
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Don Walcott
Sep 07 2019 09:36 AM

When Cruz hurt his wrist, he should have been taken out of the game to treat it immediately. Put Garver in at DH for the rest of the game. In fact, put Garver in at DH until Cruz is healthy. We need both of those guys healthy, and I feel like we're walking a tight rope with Garver's potential concussions behind the plate. And Cruz was worthless in that AB, and the subsequent ABs. So we hurt ourselves during the game by leaving him in. And it's more important to get and keep Cruz healthy than it was for him to have those 2 more ABs during that game.

    • Hosken Bombo Disco likes this
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Kelly Vance
Sep 07 2019 09:40 AM

Busdar threw what should have been an easy ground out to 2b.I don't get playing the shift against a hitter whose BA is a little above the Mendoza line. 

 

This one is on the rookie manager.

    • Hosken Bombo Disco likes this
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Hosken Bombo Disco
Sep 07 2019 09:57 AM

 The guy that beat us was Lindor with his offense and defense and it wasn't the first time and I am guessing it won''t be the last.

Thanks. People fail to appreciate this. That other teams have good players too.
    • SQUIRREL, SwainZag, mickeymental and 1 other like this

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