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CLE 2, MIN 1: Odorizzi Strikes Out 11, Wild Parker Surrenders Go-Ahead Run

Twins pitching. Strikeouts. This appears to be a thing now.

Temperature at first pitch was 34 degrees but there was no cooling off Jake Odorizzi. He struck out a career-high 11 batters over six innings. This is the second time since 1893 a team has opened the season with back-to-back double-digit strikeout games from its starting pitchers.
Image courtesy of © David Berding-USA TODAY Sports
Snapshot (chart via FanGraphs)
Odorizzi: 6.0 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 11 K, 62.0% strikes
Home Runs: None
Multi-Hit Games: None
WPA of 0.1 or higher: Odorizzi .235, Buxton .206, Rogers .111
WPA of -0.1 or lower: Kepler -.237, Parker -.289, Cron -.472
Attached Image: WinChart330.png

Despite Odorizzi’s excellent effort, the Twins entered the bottom of the ninth trailing 2-1. Byron Buxton lifted what appeared to be a routine flyball out to lead off the inning, but it was misplayed and he ended up at second base.

Max Kepler struck out and Jorge Polanco lined out to center field, allowing Buxton to advance to third base. Nelson Cruz was intentionally walked to bring up Eddie Rosario, creating a left-on-left matchup with Brand Hand on the mound. He worked a walk to load the bases, bringing C.J. Cron to the box.

Cron took a massive hack at the first pitch, a fastball over the heart of the plate, but whiffed. He popped the next pitch up to short right. Game over.

On Odorizzi

Through the first three innings, Odorizzi was completely overwhelming Cleveland. He had a no-hitter going and six strikeouts already in his ledger.

With two outs in the fourth inning, Odorizzi fell behind 3-0 to Hanley Ramirez, missed his spot and left a ball right over the middle of the plate. Ramirez did exactly what you’d expect a major league hitter to do, depositing the ball 416 feet away in the seats.

Last season, there were plenty of instances where Odorizzi got off to a brilliant start but ended up watching it all fall to pieces as his outing progressed. Not today.

Odorizzi was at 80 pitches through the first five innings, but he went out for the sixth, which also was the start of his third trip through the Cleveland lineup. That’s spelled doom for him in the past, but he got a bunt popout, then struck out both Jose Ramirez and Tyler Naquin to end his outing with an exclamation point.



Odorizzi had 16 swinging strikes on his 92 pitches and was untouchable in the upper third of the zone. Here’s the location of those swings and misses:
Attached Image: OdorizziSwingingStrikes.png

Breaking Down the Bullpen

Trevor May took over in the seventh, but he pitched to just two batters. After surrendering a single, Adalberto Mejia was called upon to pitch to a lefty, except Terry Francona countered that move by pinch hitting with a right-handed hitter, Jordan Luplow. All those chess moves ended in Mejia striking out Luplow on three pitches.

That brought up Roberto Perez, who has a .724 OPS against lefties as opposed to a .602 mark against same-sided pitching. Mejia stayed in to face him and ended up getting him on strikes, as well.

Not an entirely impressive string of managing decisions by Baldelli, in my opinion, but there’s certainly no arguing against the results. Even just beyond the numbers, is Mejia really the guy you want pitching in a tie game with the go-ahead run on base when you have a fresh bullpen?

Interesting. Again, it worked perfectly, but … interesting.

It’s only one outing, but Mejia getting off on the right foot is just another of the many great signs we’ve seen these first two games. This bullpen looks a lot better if Mejia can find his footing out there.

Taylor Rogers came on for the eighth and did his Taylor Rogers thing of pitching a scoreless inning. Guy is automatic right now. With only 11 pitches today and an off day coming Monday, it’s entirely possible Rogers could pitch in every game of this first series.

Maybe all these extra days off aren’t so bad.

Blake Parker made his Twins debut in the ninth and had some control issues. He gave up a hard single to Carlos Santana, then allowed him to advance all the way to third thanks to a pair of wild pitches. He eventually scored the go-ahead run on a sacrifice fly.

Just a gut punch of a way to give up the game-winning run.

The Framing Factor

And what of the guy behind the plate today, Mitch Garver? He had a very good day, here are all the called strikes and balls:
Attached Image: GarverChart.png

On the Offense

In the bottom of the fourth, Jorge Polanco hit a one-out triple and new Twins slugging designated hitter Nelson Cruz clobbered … an 86-foot dribbler between the mound and first base. Hey, whatever works. Polanco took off on contact and scored the game-tying run.

That Polanco triple and Buxton’s “double” were the only two hits of the game for the Twins. Cruz was hit in the wrist by Trevor Bauer, who was pitching him up and in all game, but was able to stay in and finish the game.

 

Postgame With Baldelli


Bullpen Usage
Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days:
Attached Image: Bullpen330.png

Next Three Games
Sun vs. CLE, 1:10 pm CT
Tue at KC, 7:15 pm CT
Wed at KC, 12:15 pm CT

Last Game
MIN 2, CLE 0: Berrios Dominates, Sets Twins Opening Day Record for Ks

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64 Comments

Baldelli had a chance to use his bench and pinch hit for Kepler in the 9th, who's not seeing the ball well. Rumor has it on the bench is a turtle who never strikes out and a strong contact hitter...

I'm walking away disappointed in Baldelli's decisions today.
    • glunn, Thrylos, Jerr and 14 others like this
Also, CJ Cron... Woof. It's going to take me a while to warm up to him.
    • TheLeviathan, blindeke, ChrisKnutson and 3 others like this

I was also thinking of the turtle when Cron came up. 

    • Kevin, blindeke, Bill Tanner and 2 others like this

Ditto regarding your thoughts on Kepler, Rocco, and Cron. Scoop hasn't been exactly encouraging to watch at the plate either.

 

Will we see Jake Cave make an appearance tomorrow in place of Kepler? Polanco leading off?

 

These freezing cold games seem to be pretty tough on hitters. I'm looking forward to this team hitting the road and just playing in at least high 50's or low 60-degree temps soon. Opening up in March in the Twin Cities is bad for both the Indians and Twins. I'm definitely NOT one of those "get a roof" guys, but I am disappointed to see games in Minneapolis scheduled in March.

    • BJames and sweetmusicviola16 like this

Parker in the 9th with the game tied. Yuk. And not the funny yuk. What a waste of a Odorizzi's great outing. We probably aren't going to get many of those. And Parker in the 9th. Shaking my head. May gets no trust after a single, but Parker stays in after a single and 2.... count 'em... 1, 2..... wild pitches in a row. Still shaking my head.

 

Buxton still hitting. No one else is. Mind you, Bauer and Kluber are formidable. Still. How about some hitting.

    • Jerr, mikelink45, blindeke and 3 others like this

Garver's pitch framing was not what I would call good. I count 7 pitches in the zone that were called balls, and only 2 pitches out of the zone that were called strikes. That's hardly magician level sleight-of-glove. Still, I do like his new one-knee stance. He looks athletic and relaxed that way. 

    • bighat and jkcarew like this
Photo
sweetmusicviola16
Mar 30 2019 04:13 PM

 

Parker in the 9th with the game tied. Yuk. And not the funny yuk. What a waste of a Odorizzi's great outing. We probably aren't going to get many of those. And Parker in the 9th. Shaking my head. May gets no trust after a single, but Parker stays in after a single and 2.... count 'em... 1, 2..... wild pitches in a row. Still shaking my head.

 

Buxton still hitting. No one else is. Mind you, Bauer and Kluber are formidable. Still. How about some hitting.

Honestly that 9th inning double by Buxton was a gift. He should be 1 for 6, and looks a lot like Buxton.

Photo
Tom Froemming
Mar 30 2019 04:14 PM

 

Garver's pitch framing was not what I would call good. I count 7 pitches in the zone that were called balls, and only 2 pitches out of the zone that were called strikes. That's hardly magician level sleight-of-glove. Still, I do like his new one-knee stance. He looks athletic and relaxed that way. 

Garver doesn't need to be a magician. With his offensive potential, he merely needs to be adequate, which he was not last season. Just for reference, here's how things looked for Cleveland:

CLE
    • jorgenswest, glunn, jimbo92107 and 1 other like this
I need help with the Garver balls and strike chart. I see three "balls" called strikes and 7 "strikes" called balls? 5 in one corner. Cuzzi was not giving that corner apparently? Or Garver was not framing it? Or both? But that chart didn't show me that Garver had a great day on a plus minus type of rating.
    • blindeke likes this
Photo
terrydactyls1947
Mar 30 2019 04:26 PM
Is something wrong with Buxton's legs? Why didn't he steal third so he could score on a fly? Hand appeared to me to have a rather slow delivery.
    • h2oface and caninatl04 like this

Last year, this would have been a walk-over win for Cleveland, with Bauer on the mound.

 

This year, Cleveland had to find a way to win, which is what elite teams do.

 

Give the Twins and Odorizzi credit: They hung in there against a very good team.

    • birdwatcher, Jerr, SwainZag and 3 others like this

Kepler had no business batting there. He may have hit lefties better than righties last year but it's important to remember he didn't hit either particularly well. The team needed a productive at bat in that situation. 

    • blindeke, Wizard11, bighat and 3 others like this
Photo
Tom Froemming
Mar 30 2019 04:45 PM

 

I need help with the Garver balls and strike chart. I see three "balls" called strikes and 7 "strikes" called balls? 5 in one corner. Cuzzi was not giving that corner apparently? Or Garver was not framing it? Or both? But that chart didn't show me that Garver had a great day on a plus minus type of rating.

Here's a look back at Garver's first game catching Odorizzi last year. I'd say it's a pretty significant improvement, and it's not like I'm cherry picking his worst game or anything. 

Garver1
That's my biggest concern with Garver. He doesn't need to be some strike-stealing wizard back, he just needs to get the pitches in the zone called strikes.

Second, you can't really expect to get calls on the black. Here's every called ball Odorizzi threw last season. There are so many balls called on the black that you can't even barely see the black anymore. 

OdorizziBall
When I look at the info from today, I see two balls down at the bottom that were in the zone, but I also see three called strikes that were definitely outside the zone. Everything else, to me, looks like it's on the black. Some he got strikes, others he got balls. But this is most definitely all subjective, so certainly take a look and form your own opinion.
    • glunn, jimbo92107 and h2oface like this
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MMMordabito
Mar 30 2019 04:49 PM
Love all the armchair quarterbacking. In reality, I'll take 1-1 against Kluber/Bauer.
    • Carole Keller, birdwatcher, Blake and 11 others like this

Early indications (to nobody's surprise) are that Rocco isn't exactly one for small-ball...or even "playing the percentages". Let Rosario swing away in the 7th inning of a 1-1 game with a 3-0 count and runners on first and second, and nobody out. Let Kepler swing away in 9th, facing a lefty, with Buxton on second, no outs...down by one. (Go for the tie at home?) Both moves back-fired.

 

To be fair, this lineup probably doesn't have the skill/flexibility to play the small game even in the scenarios where it is justified. Just need to wait for the weather to warm up, so fly balls start landing on the other side of the fence, I guess.

    • birdwatcher, NorthwestTwinsFan, caninatl04 and 1 other like this
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Taildragger8791
Mar 30 2019 05:23 PM
With Phil Cuzzi’a strikezone today I don’t know how you can evaluate the catcher framing with any seriousness. Both sides were fooled multiple times by unexpected ball/strike calls.
    • birdwatcher, h2oface, shimrod and 4 others like this

 

Honestly that 9th inning double by Buxton was a gift. He should be 1 for 6, and looks a lot like Buxton.

 

One strikeout in 6 ABs does not look like the old Buxton to me. He's got the best hit ball of the season so far and is putting the ball in play. The wind-blown double was a gift, but he hustled and ended up on 2nd base. To repeat, he's putting the ball in play and has been on at least 3rd base in both games. Call me crazy but I'm somewhat encouraged.

    • glunn, birdwatcher, Jerr and 9 others like this

 

 

Kepler had no business batting there. He may have hit lefties better than righties last year but it's important to remember he didn't hit either particularly well. The team needed a productive at bat in that situation. 

 

Agreed. And the Twins chose to bring Astudillo and Austin north. Either one of those would have been an understandable PH in that situation, and Cave's a suitable replacement in the OF for Kep.

 

Why bring all these tools if you're not going to use them? Rocco wants to "show confidence" in Kepler I'm guessing?

    • shimrod, Tibs, blindeke and 4 others like this
Photo
TheLeviathan
Mar 30 2019 05:37 PM

Was Rosario's at-bat when he had the 3-0 count as bad as it looked on Gameday?

Photo
Tom Froemming
Mar 30 2019 05:47 PM

 

Was Rosario's at-bat when he had the 3-0 count as bad as it looked on Gameday?

This looks bad?
download

 

    • diehardtwinsfan, SwainZag, h2oface and 4 others like this

Is something wrong with Buxton's legs? Why didn't he steal third so he could score on a fly? Hand appeared to me to have a rather slow delivery.

If anyone could take third in that situation, it’s Buxton. But if anyone’s able to score on a blooper, it’s also Buxton. I agree not to steal, because the throw from home to third is only 90 feet, and Buxton is going to score on anything that lands in the outfield grass whether he starts on second or third. I don’t think the benefit of stealing outweighs the risk in that spot.

The problem was that Kepler didn’t find a way to get him over.
    • birdwatcher, SwainZag, Tibs and 4 others like this

Honestly that 9th inning double by Buxton was a gift. He should be 1 for 6, and looks a lot like Buxton.


Physically, yes, he looks a lot like Byron Buxton. But he looks nothing like the wigged out kid from the last couple springs. Mainly, he can tell a ball from a strike, and he has been hitting the ball with some authority.
    • jorgenswest, h2oface, MN_ExPat and 1 other like this
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Knuckleball9
Mar 30 2019 06:00 PM

Twins went up against arguably the 2 best starters in the central and split. We put out two pitchers that stood toe to toe with Kluber/Bauer. Tip o' the Cap to Jose and Hodor...

    • glunn, birdwatcher, brvama and 5 others like this

 

Garver's pitch framing was not what I would call good. I count 7 pitches in the zone that were called balls, and only 2 pitches out of the zone that were called strikes. That's hardly magician level sleight-of-glove. Still, I do like his new one-knee stance. He looks athletic and relaxed that way. 

 

That is exactly why umpires still calling balls and strikes is bogus. Did you see that curve that Kepler took that was in the middle of the zone and a good 3 to 4 inches up from the bottom of the zone? And Cuzzi called it a ball on Bauer? Poor umpiring is the reason for most bad calls, and yet, people want to make up a fake stat like pitch framing. This can only be fixed one way, and you know how that is. It is not the catcher.... it is the umpire.

 

The whole premise of pitch framing is to cheat the reality of what happened. It is time to get balls and strikes right, without trying to cheat.

    • blindeke, Knuckleball9 and heresthething like this
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Knuckleball9
Mar 30 2019 06:03 PM

Oh yeah.. Libera a la Tortuga

    • Jerr, Platoon, caninatl04 and 1 other like this

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