MIN 4, CHC 0: Twins Down Darvish, Shutout Cubs
Image courtesy of Chart via FanGraphsBox Score
Berríos: 6.0 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 K
Home Runs: Kepler (8)
Top 3 WPA: Berríos .369, Kepler .122, Donaldson .078
Twins Get to Darvish Early ...
The Twins recorded three hits off Yu Darvish in the first inning, which is more than he’s given up in an entire outing in four of his prior 10 starts this year. They only came away with one run in the first inning, driven in on an Eddie Rosario single, as the bases were left loaded.
The Twins added another run the second inning, becoming the first team to score in each of the first two innings against Darvish all season. He entered tonight fourth in ERA and third in fWAR among qualified starters, firmly in the conversation for NL Cy Young.
Darvish returned to form and allowed just two baserunners to reach for the next four innings.
… and Late
Since Darvish had been on a roll, the Cubs sent him back out to start the seventh inning. Marwin Gonzalez led things off with a double to center field before Max Kepler blasted his 100th career home run to put the Twins up 4-0. Tonight marks the first time all season Darvish has given up four runs in an outing.
This was Kepler’s first home run since Aug. 26. Since then, he’s had a .309 OPS over 43 plate appearances. Max needed that, badly.
José Berríos is Rolling
Berríos had a 5.92 ERA through his first five starts of the season, but has steadily been improving. Over his most recent five starts coming into tonight, Berríos posted a 2.60 ERA. It’s basically the complete opposite from what we’re used to seeing from him.
Berríos outdueled Darvish, providing six shutout innings while giving up four hits and walking one batter. He struck out four batters and had nine swinging strikes on his 85 pitches. The Cubs also had nine balls hit in excess of 95 mph, so this was far from the most dominant we’ve seen Berríos, but there’s no arguing with the results.
The Cubs lineup has been struggling, but this was still a tough matchup on a national stage. It was great to see Berríos deliver.
Rogers Before Romo
Taylor Rogers pitched the eighth inning tonight. Rogers also entered in the eighth inning his previous outing on Sept. 14, but gave up a pair of runs while recording just one out.
On the one hand, there were a couple of lefties and a switch hitter who doesn’t fare nearly as well versus southpaws due up. On the other hand, Kris Bryant was the next batter in the lineup after that.
Bryant is having a nightmare season, entering tonight’s game with a .591 OPS. Still, he’s a career .302/.412/.579 (.991 OPS) hitter against lefties and though it was only 30 plate appearances, he also had a .901 OPS against lefties so far in 2020.
Rogers retired José Martinez, who pinch hit for lefty Jason Kipnis, before issuing a five-pitch walk to Ian Happ. He then struck out lefty Anthony Rizzo. That brought Bryant to the plate.
Rogers got Bryant to line out to end the inning. So was Rocco Baldelli playing matchups? Or is Rogers no longer the closer? Let me know what your best guess is down in the comments.
Sergio Romo took over in the ninth inning, inheriting a 4-0 lead. Wilson Contreras reached after a passed ball on strike three, Jason Heyward was hit by a pitch and Victor Caratini walked to bring the tying run to the plate with two outs.
Romo prevailed, striking out pinch hitter Nico Hoerner to end the game. Sergio has now delivered a scoreless outing in 17 of his 21 appearances this season.
The Twins ran into a couple outs in their 7-1 win over the Cubs Friday night, and continued an aggressive approach tonight.
Jake Cave took a gamble by stretching a leadoff double into a triple, barely beating the throw from left fielder Kyle Schwarber. He later scored on a ground out.
Kepler took a chance in the field that didn’t pay off, but luckily Berríos managed to pitch around it.
With one out, Kepler tried to nail a baserunner going first-to-third. The play was nowhere close, and the throw allowed the hitter to advance to second base, both putting two runners in scoring position and eliminating the potential for a double play.
Along with the bullpen situation, it'll be interesting to follow any other trends as the Twins ramp up for the playoffs.
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