MIN 11, SEA 6: Total System Failure (for the Other Guys)
Image courtesy of © Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY SportsBox Score
Pineda: 7.0 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 6 K, 70.3% strikes (64 of 91 pitches)
Home Runs: Castro (7), Kepler (9), Cron (10), Buxton (3)
Multi-Hit Games: Cron (4-for-5, HR), Rosario (3-for-5), Polanco (2-for-5), Sano (2-for-5, 2 2B), Buxton (2-for-5, HR)
WPA of +0.1: Castro .151, Cron .129
WPA of -0.1: None
(chart via FanGraphs)
Seattle was one of just two teams who have hit more home runs that the Twins so far this season. Both teams lived up to their early-season reputations. Jason Castro opened the scoring in the third inning with a solo home run. That gave him seven homers in his first 62 plate appearances on the year at that point. Insane.
I pointed out on Twitter before the game how Max Kepler had been struggling and suggested it may be time to slide him down in the order. He had a .476 OPS in May entering this game. So, of course, he hit his ninth home run in the third inning, another solo shot.
In the fourth inning, C.J. Cron hit what should be counted as something more than just a home run. He obliterated a fastball 453 feet into the upper deck. The exit velocity was 114.3 mph. This was already his 10th home run, and while so many others have been low laser beams, this one was a tall, majestic blast.
Byron Buxton added another homer in the fourth, a three-run blast, for his third of the season. He’s been on fire, coming into this game with a .326/.392/.565 line so far in May.
Pineda Pounds the Zone
The Mariners hit three homers of their own. Michael Pineda did exactly what you’d want a starting pitcher to do when spotted an eight-run lead. He went into strike-throwing mode, but that aggressiveness led to a couple of those home runs. Solo home runs in blowouts don’t matter much, but bailing out what’s been a busy bullpen most definitely does.
After the bats broke out that big lead, Pineda threw over 72% of his pitches for strikes. He ended up needing just 91 pitches to complete seven innings, giving a bit of a beat up bullpen a much-needed break. Pineda got 16 swinging strikes, struck out six batters, did not issue a walk and only got into one three-ball count.
Tonight marked the 2019 season debut for Miguel Sano. He hit seventh and played third base. C.J. Cron was the DH (still no Nelson Cruz) while Marwin Gonzalez handled first base, so they could have very easily worked things out to not have Miguel in the field. It seems like a good sign that they wanted him out there.
Anyway, Sano got a slider right over the heart of the plate in his first at-bat but grounded out to third base. He did not miss in his second at-bat, he hit a fastball 103.4 mph to left field for a double. By the third time Sano came up, the Twins had already built a 9-1 lead. He hit into a bases-loaded, inning-ending ground out. Once again, it was a very good pitch to hit.
Sano faced old friend Anthony Swarzak in his fourth at-bat. After fouling off the first two pitches, Sano struck out on a checked swing. All three pitches were sliders. He added a second double in his final at-bat of the night, driving in a run to pad the Twins’ lead.
So the final line for Sano was 2-for-5 with a pair of doubles, an RBI and a strikeout. He also looked good on his lone defensive chance of the evening.
Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days:
Next Three Games
Fri at SEA, 9:10 pm CT (Perez-Gonsales)
Sat at SEA, 9:10 pm CT (Berrios-LeBlanc)
Sun at SEA, 3:10 pm CT (Gibson-Kikuchi)
MIN 8, LAA 7: Twins Squeak Out Victory
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