Recap: Doubleheader Sweep Puts Cleveland Atop Division
Image courtesy of Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports (photo of Adam Wilk)Game 1: Cleveland 9, Twins 3
Win Expectancy (via Fangraphs)
Game 2: Cleveland 6, Twins 2
Win Expectancy (via Fangraphs)
Adam Wilk was terrible in the first game, to the surprise of basically no one. What has been surprising is how well the Twins have bounced back from adversity this year.
They started the season off by winning their first four games, but quickly fell to 8-10. At the time, it seemed likely we’d never see the Twins above .500 again in 2017, but they turned things around to win 17 of their next 25 games. There have been several times since when it appeared the Twins might have faded. They haven’t.
They got absolutely destroyed at home by the Astros right before a big West Coast road swing. Stick a fork in ’em? Not so fast. The Twins responded by taking three of four in Anaheim.
In Seattle, they got crushed in Game 1 and lost a heartbreaker in Game 2. Write ‘em off? Nope, the Twins followed that up with a three game-winning streak.
They lost their next two games in fairly embarrassing fashion, giving up 27 total runs in the process. Well clearly that led to a tailspin, right? Nope, the Twins scored 20 runs the next night.
Game 1 of Saturday’s doubleheader was another one of those moments that made you feel like you were watching the beginning of the end. Wilk gave up six runs and lasted just 3.1 innings. It appeared clear as day that Cleveland was a team in a class above the Twins. They cruised to a 9-3 victory despite not having one of their main horses on the mound, either. Ryan Merritt made his 2017 debut, and lasted just four innings.
Game 2 got off to a much better start for the Twins, but they lost Adalberto Mejia after 4.2 innings due to a rain delay that lasted over an hour. Maybe he should’ve started the first game.
The contest resumed with Cleveland up 2-1. Tyler Duffey got the final out of the top of the fifth, Jorge Polanco led off the bottom of the inning with a nine-pitch walk and it appeared the scrappy Twins might just pull off another momentum switch.
But the next batter, Jason Castro, grounded into a double play. Then Duffey gave up a three-run homer in the top of the inning. Cleveland sweeps.
This is it, isn’t it? This doubleheader sweep is the knockout blow. Here’s where the Twins finally fade away, right?
Well, they’ve gotten up off the mat every time they’ve been knocked down so far this season. We’ll see what happens tomorrow.
Alan Busenitz made his major league debut and struck out the first batter he faced, the red-hot Jose Ramirez. Busenitz gave up a run on a Francisco Lindor solo homer over two innings pitched. He topped out at 97 mph.
Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days. This has been updated so that instead of having the most recent games on the left side, they're now on the right.
Alex Wimmers was the 26th man, so he’ll be headed back to Rochester. The bullpen combined to throw 177 pitches Saturday. The Twins have a much-needed off day coming Monday.
Twins (Kyle Gibson 6.79 ERA) vs. Cleveland (Trevor Bauer, 5.85 ERA), 1:10 pm CT
Gibson has a 4.58 ERA and 1.59 WHIP in June, much more palatable numbers than his 2017 season totals. Current Cleveland hitters have teed off on Gibson to the tune of a 1.028 OPS. Bauer’s strikeout rate is at a career high 10.8 K/9, but that’s come with a 5.85 ERA and 1.49 WHIP. He has given Miguel Sano fits, striking him out 10 times over 23 plate appearances.
AL Central Standings
Twins 34-32 (-1)
Detroit 32-35 (-3.5)
Kansas City 32-35 (-3.5)
Chicago 31-36 (-4.5)
Be sure to check out today’s Minor League Report, which includes some great video of Travis Blankenhorn’s game-winning steal of home.