MIN 6, KC 5: Cave Slugs Grand Slam as Twins Sweep Royals
Image courtesy of © Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY SportsSnapshot (chart via FanGraphs)
Ervin Santana: 38 Game Score, 4.1 IP, 3 ER, 3 K, 1 BB, 66.3% strikes
Home Runs: Jake Cave (4)
Multi-Hit Games: Robbie Grossman (2-for-4, 2B), Miguel Sano (2-for-4), Logan Forsythe (2-for-4), Max Kepler (2-for-3, 2B, BB)
WPA of 0.1 or higher: Cave .298, Rodney .173, Moya .145
WPA of -0.1 or lower: Hildenberger -.103, Garver -.189
Obviously, the best possible outcome a hitter can produce is to hit a grand slam. It just doesn’t get any better than that. But the way Cave worked his plate appearance up to the point where he hit the salami was very impressive as well.
Cave fell behind 1-2 in the count and Duffy threw a 78 mph curveball, the first of the plate appearance. He bounced off the mound, expecting to get a called strike, but it was accurately called a ball. Still, it was an outstanding two-strike pitch.
Cave fouled off the next pitch, a 96 mph fastball, and was visibly frustrated, a sign he was probably sitting on that pitch. Duffy went back to the fastball, but missed just barely below the zone. Another really outstanding two-strike offering from Duffy.
With the count full, and the bases too, Cave was finally in the driver’s seat. Duffy wasn’t going to want to walk in a run, especially while facing a hitter who had done so poorly against same-sided pitching. He went back to the fastball. On the way in, it was 94.8 mph and traveled 60 feet, six inches. Cave absolutely unloaded on it, sending it out at 109 mph as it traveled 402 feet into the stands.
When you consider the fact that Cave entered this game with a .158/.238/.368 line against lefties (though in just 21 PAs) and that Duffy had only give up one home run to a southpaw in 96 opportunities heading into today, this has to be considered both one of the best plate appearances and least likely outcomes from a Twins hitter we’ve seen all season.
Ervin Santana went just 4 1/3 innings, which by the way is probably about what we can expect going forward. Ervin has given up 10 earned runs in 14 2/3 innings since his return, a 6.14 ERA, and is living on his slider and changeup.
Santana left with runners on first and second base and one out, but Gabriel Moya came in and slammed the door. Moya retired all five batters he faced Sunday afternoon, recording two strikeouts while throwing 11 of his 16 pitches for strikes.
Trevor Hildenberger gave up a two-run homer in the seventh to cut the Twins’ lead to one run. The Royals threatened again in the eighth thanks to a error by Miguel Sano and a “single” on a ball Logan Morrison should have caught at first base. Luckily Trevor May ended the threat by striking out Alcides Escobar to strand the runners at second and third.
The Royals were feisty today. They also got their leadoff man on in the ninth, but Mitch Garver gunned down Whit Merrifield trying to steal second. Merrifield has stolen 67 bases in his career at an 80.7 percent success rate coming into today. Kansas City got the game-tying run all the way to third, but Miguel Sano made a very nice play to end this one, giving Fernando Rodney his 24th save.
Robbie Grossman exited this game with a hamstring strain after hitting a single in the seventh inning.
Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days:
AL Central Standings
MIN 52-58 (-9)
DET 47-64 (14.5)
CHW 41-70 (-20.)
KC 34-77 (-27.5)
Next Three Game
Mon at CLE, 6:10 pm CT: Kyle Gibson vs. Trevor Bauer
Tue at CLE, 6:10 pm CT: Adalberto Mejia vs. Carlos Carrasco
Wed at CLE, 6:10 pm CT: Jake Odorizzi vs. Mike Clevinger
Last Three Games
MIN 8, KC 2: New Twins Ace Wins in Front of Old Twins Ace
MIN 6, KC 4: Long Day at the Office
CLE 2, MIN 0: Carrasco Stars in Dominant Performance
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