KCR 3, MIN 2: No Cruz, No Donaldson, No Arráez, No Offense
Image courtesy of © Denny Medley-USA TODAY SportsBox Score
Smeltzer: 4.1 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2 K
Home Runs: Buxton (2), Gonzalez (2)
Bottom 3 WPA: Rosario -.139, Cave -.111, Adrianza -.103
Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs):
While the Twins offense has been somewhat productive so far this year, ranking fifth in runs scored (68) and fourth in home runs (20) coming into this game, they have also produced some unimpressive stats, such as a .236 AVG, .731 OPS, .265 BABIP, .319 wOBA and 106 wRC+. Tonight, even with a solid performance from the mound, the bats didn’t show up when needed.
Byron Buxton homered to lead off the third inning, hitting a 442-feet bomb to left center. It was the fourth longest home run of his career and this was the first time he went yard in back-to-back games since May 16 of last year. Momentarily, Buxton’s OPS improved from .548 to .731 with that dinger, which may be an indicator that his slow start might be behind him sooner than most of us imagined.
After completing the first two innings rather quickly, Smeltzer put on a sweat to pitch throughout the third. Royals third baseman Maikel Franco hit a leadoff double and was later brought home by a single from center fielder Nick Heath. Smeltzer managed to limit the damage to the one run, not allowing any other base runner. Minnesota got back on top immediately afterwards, in the top of the fourth, with yet another home run. Marwin González hit his second of the year.
Smeltzer rained out
The game was halted by a rain delay in the bottom of the fifth, which fortunately lasted only a few minutes. However, it was long enough to end the night for Smeltzer, who had given up a leadoff single to Alex Gordon, later scored by a one-out single from Nicky Lopez, in the very last pitch before the umpires decided to pause the game, tying the game. Smeltzer’s pitch count still looked good, with 62 pitches to complete 4 1/3 innings.
Matt Wisler came into the game in his relief, after the tarp was rolled up, to try to get the final two outs of the fifth inning. He walked the first batter he saw, but then got bailed out by an amazing catch from Jake Cave, preventing the Royals from taking the lead.
Wisler is having a really nice start of his Twins career, but he made a mistake in the sixth inning, as a hanging slider in the middle of the zone was crushed by first baseman Ryan McBroom, making it 3-2 Royals. It was the first run allowed by Wisler in the season.
Bullpen keeps Minnesota alive, but the offense doesn’t deliver
Once Wisler departed from the game after the sixth inning, Caleb Thielbar and Sean Poppen (making his season debut) pitched a couple of scoreless frames to keep the Twins alive. However, the offense couldn’t come through for them. After Miguel Sanó was intentionally walked in the fifth inning, Twins batters went 0-for-13 with a walk to finish the game. Nelson Cruz, who originally got the night off, came into the game to pinch-hit for Ehire Adrianza in the very last out of the game. In spite of the good eight-pitch battle against reliever Trevor Rosenthal, he ended up striking out.
Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet