MIN 7, CIN 3: Arráez and Shine
Image courtesy of Chart by FanGraphsBox Score
Pineda: 4.0 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 4 K
Home Runs: None
Top 3 WPA: Arráez .238, Gonzalez .094, Kepler .074
Rocco Baldelli said earlier this week that Michael Pineda was going to be the Twins starting pitcher in an eventual Game 3 of the Wild Card series, whomever they face. Even though there’s still no official announcement, he also said that this decision is unlikely to change. Naturally, Big Mike’s last regular season start would be his ‘final exam’ for the playoffs, even if he was not going to go the distance.
However, he got off on the wrong foot, as it took him 34 pitches to end the first inning, nearly half of the total pitches he would throw in this game. He lacked command, throwing only two called strikes and giving up two walks, while also giving up a couple of hits that helped Cincinnati jump to a 2-0 lead right away.
But that was all the struggle Pineda would go through in the night, as he smoothly pitched three scoreless innings next, allowing only two baserunners. Had he continued in the game, he was in good shape to near a quality start. It wasn’t an optimal outing, sure, but not a bad one either.
Welcome back, Arráez!
After missing 13 games due to a left knee tendinitis that had him placed on the 10-day Injured List, he was activated earlier today to resume his season and also get looked at for postseason purposes. Fortunately, he didn’t even come close to disappointing.
The Twins would score five runs in the first five innings to take the lead and Arráez was directly involved in four of them. He hit a double in each of his first three at bats, setting a career high. He doubled in the first and was scored by a Nelson Cruz single; doubled in the third to score Max Kepler and scored on an Eddie Rosario single; and doubled again in the fifth, scoring Kepler once again.
Kepler (twice) and Marwin González also joined the doubles party making it six overall for Minnesota. After his double, MarGo moved up on a sac-fly and scored on a rare wild pitch by Reds starter Luis Castillo.
The bullpen was also tested
With the early departure of Pineda, the Twins bullpen would go through another tough test to prepare for the playoffs. They had been kind of struggling as of late, having allowed three runs in each of the past three games. Granted, in one of those they had to pitch seven innings in relief of Homer Bailey on Tuesday, but still, some fans had their confidence shaken.
Tyler Clippard and Cody Stashak delivered two perfect innings in the fifth and sixth, but Stashak ran into trouble to start the seventh, when he opened the inning by giving up back-to-back singles. Taylor Rogers took over and immediately gave up an RBI single and hit a batter, loading the bases with only one out, under a somewhat heavy rain. He put himself together and retired the final two batters of the inning and keep the Twins’ two-run lead.
He came back to pitch the eighth and got two quick outs, making it the first time this season he pitched more than one inning in a game, ending his outing with 1 1/3 inning and not allowing an earned run. Tyler Duffey came in and concluded the top of the eighth with no problems.
More doubles, more run support and more Arráez
The offense showed up again in the bottom of the seventh, after the Reds shortened the distances. Ehire Adrianza led off the inning with another double, the eighth from Minnesota in the game (the club record, set last year, is nine). Kepler drew a walk after him and then Arráez got his fourth hit of the game and scored his countryman. Eddie Rosario flied out to center, but hit the ball deep enough to score Kepler and push the lead to four runs, 7-3 Twins, which ended up being the final score.
After getting the last out in the eighth, Duffey came back and pitched an outstanding ninth, striking out the side in 13 pitches. The Twins even up the series and are still in control of their own destiny, with the magic number now at one. If they win the rubber game tomorrow, they’re going to be back-to-back AL Central champions for the first time in 10 years. But even if they end up losing first place, they have secured home-field advantage in the Wild Card Series earlier tonight, with the Indians’ 8-0 loss against Pittsburgh.
Check out tonight’s episode of Twins Daily’s Postgame Pint live stream on YouTube or Facebook.
Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet
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