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Twins at Risk of Sinking to New Low with October Woes

This was going to be different. So insisted everyone involved with these 2019 Twins, who entered the postseason looking to upend an October narrative that's haunted the franchise for 15 years.

So far, they're right. It has been different. It's been worse.
Image courtesy of Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Losing against the Yankees in the playoffs is a painfully familiar experience for Twins fans, but this is as bad as we've seen it. While Minnesota entered this ALDS on a 13-game postseason losing streak, none of those losses were as lopsided or all-around uninspiring as the two duds we just witnessed in the Bronx.

None of the Twins' 13 consecutive playoff losses dating back to 2004 were by a margin of more than five runs. Each of the first two drubbings in this ALDS have been by six. The Yankees have dismantled, outsmarted, and dominated at almost every turn. Few observers truly expected the Twins to win this series but for the club to be so woefully uncompetitive is beyond disheartening.

It starts with the pitching staff, of course. In two games at Yankee Stadium, the Twins gave up 18 runs on 18 hits and 16 walks. Previously reliable arms imploded. No one had any answers for the patience and power of New York's lineup. Multiple defensive mistakes contributed to the meltdown.

Bafflingly, the Twins allowed all of this damage without three of their best relievers even taking the mound. Trevor May and Sergio Romo didn't appear until Game 2 was already well out of hand. Taylor Rogers, Minnesota's most valuable reliever all year long, still hasn't pitched. Meanwhile, the Yankees have gone to their top guys in every important spot and it has paid off; their bullpen – which was arguably at a slight disadvantage on paper – has allowed only two runs on four hits over 8 1/3 innings.

And while it's always easy to second-guess managerial bullpen moves in retrospect, that's the nature of a playoff series, and rookie skipper Rocco Baldelli has made some especially questionable calls that have gone about as poorly as possible. He pulled strings as if operating in regular-season mode, saving bullets for late-game opportunities that never materialized.

Why was Zack Littell the first man out of the bullpen on Friday night, in the fifth inning of a 3-3 tie? As effective as Littell has been, he's a rookie who rarely threw in high-leverage spots all year. And on Saturday, why was Tyler Duffey called into an intensely stressful situation, one day after throwing 25 pitches in Game 1? Rogers, May and Romo were all completely fresh. Duffey had a 7.45 ERA and 1.56 WHIP when pitching on zero days rest this season, and he never once made such an appearance after throwing as many pitches as he did on Friday.

Baldelli has had a commendable first year at the helm but his decision-making in this series – and particularly those choices, with their utterly disastrous results – will be rightfully scrutinized for some time.

At the end of the day, though, the biggest letdown for the Twins in this heralded slugging showdown has been their largely absent offense. Six runs on 13 hits in 18 innings, against a vulnerable pitching staff in one of baseball's most hitter-friendly yards. Completely inadequate and underwhelming.

Now, the Twins return home with their backs against the wall. Win or it's over. Given the total breakdowns we've seen in every phase thus far, there's not much cause for confidence, but Monday is a new day, in a new ballpark, in front of a packed home crowd.

This team is almost out of chances to not just put an end to the longest stretch of postseason futility against a single opponent in MLB history, but to avoid imprinting 2019 as the new low point in this languishing legacy of losing when it matters most.

Coming home, down 0-2, with elimination feeling almost like a forgone conclusion. We've been here before. Will this time be different?

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146 Comments

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Richard Swerdlick
Oct 07 2019 03:41 AM

If I ran the Twins and if David Ortiz was in the country, I would have paid him to come and give the team a pep talk about how the RedSox came back from being down 3-0 and beat the Yankees 4 straight in 2004.

This time I think we can say “yes, they were one player away.” A starting pitcher. Not that that excuses the other players who haven’t showed up yet this series.


It takes way more than one player to account for an 18-6 differential.
    • Twins33, Danchat and chpettit19 like this
The problem is not just pitching, the problem is they look absolutely scared crapless. The Yanks look like they have been here countless times which they have.

The Twins are not going to take this game. It is the same thing everytime we go to the playoffs. Rinse and repeat.
    • scottz likes this
Twins win with Odorizzi tonight 11 8 final. Game 4 we must put up another big number to win. Game 5 in New York would be great to make it that far at this point.

I don't get all the criticism.Doesn't it make sense to hold Rogers back until our backs against the wall and it really matters?

    • Tomj14 likes this
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Thebigalguy
Oct 07 2019 07:07 AM
I agree with the criticism with the proviso that it ain’t over until it’s over. We’ll have an entire offseason for autopsies. Meanwhile, I remember the Yanks with a 3-0 game lead on Boston. Remember what happened? Hope springs eternal until the last inning.
The problem is the Pohlads. Not even the slightest interest in baseball. All businesses need leadership from ownership. We don’t have that. And never an article in the Star Tribune evaluating this weak ownership. Gripes they’ve tried to at one time sell the team and once tried to contract. Just interested in the money.
    • SpicyGarvSauce likes this

Didn’t the Twins have about a 100 point higher winning percentage on the road compared to home this season?

I expected a split in NY, a split in Min and Gm5 all hands on deck. Gm 1 was our chance to split in NY.I won’t cite Baldelli not using Rogers and Romo as of yet as issues. They are our late inning guys, one of which with plenty of October experience. I think Berrios should have been brought back out to start the 5th, w/ Duffy and May ready to bridge the gap to late innings. Shoot even Graterol. But glad he got a look, experience, and confidence. He can and should be used if/when necessary.

    • jz7233 likes this

 

I think there’s only one pitcher better than Berríos on the free agent market next year.

I'm guessing that Strasburg will opt out of his contract.

 

Stuff-wise Berrios has a case as being better than these pitchers but from a recent FIP standpoint there isn't much difference between him and Bumgarner, Keuchel, Quintana, Wood, or Wheeler.

    • Tomj14 likes this

My take is that the rotation for this series was messed up from the get-go. Berrios and Odorizzi should have started games 1 and 2. I also believe that, as bad as he may have been, Perez should have been on the roster. There is no substitute for experience. Also, depending on how the first 2 games would have gone would determine who starts game 3. While I hope we can win tonight and maybe even tomorrow if Berrios can pitch on short rest, I don't see us winning a game 5 if it gets that far. I also did not believe that our bullpen was better than the Yankees bullpen going in though both closers were close to equal. I don't blame Rocco with his decisions though it looks bad with what he has chosen. I would probably have picked May in game 1 and who knows in game 2 as noone was used to that situation (maybe Perez to face Didi). I hope we can get the lead tonight and Odo can hold down the fort. GO TWINS!

What happened to "enjoy the ride?" I can't count how many times I was told that when I suggested they add to their thin pitching ranks...

    • Tomj14 likes this
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Aerodeliria
Oct 07 2019 08:39 AM
It's mind-boggling to me that Baldelli goes from his Joan of Arc patience with his starters to Captain Hook. As I can watch the games here in Japan on cable, I was a bit flummoxed at Baldelli's quick hook. Berrios was not getting hit hard IMHO and Dobnak wasn't even given a chance to work out of the jam despite his record of consistently managing such situations during the regular season. (I just wanted one more batter in the third inning. If you say he is your starter, there has to be a modicum of trust in his ability.)
    • Hosken Bombo Disco and Tomj14 like this

Aaron Judge has won exactly as many championships as Eddie Rosario. Gleyber Torres has won as many as Miguel Sano. The Twins are playing as if every one of these guys is Mickey Mantle or Babe Ruth. Grow a pair and play ball.

    • pbrezeasap and Danchat like this

 

Well, you could argue that our ace is out due to an untimely urine sample.That pretty much sealed our fate.MLB wants the Yankees in the playoffs...it's about money.I doubt they will get that untimely urine sample that takes their ace out of the playoffs.

Their ace was suspended right before the playoffs on suspicion of domestic abuse. So, this conspiracy theory doesn't add up. 

    • USAFChief, pbrezeasap, Danchat and 2 others like this

 

Well, you could argue that our ace is out due to an untimely urine sample.That pretty much sealed our fate.MLB wants the Yankees in the playoffs...it's about money.I doubt they will get that untimely urine sample that takes their ace out of the playoffs.

 

You can't say they are making calls to favor the Yanks. They have gotten healthy while we have gotten stupid (Pineda) and injured. The hotter and healthier team wins but making poor pitches to a guy who hadn't played in a month (Encarnacion) in game 1 and starting a rookie with 3 games of experience (game 2) is not a formula for winning- no matter how good or bad we hit. Now bat Arraz leadoff and let's get this party started tonight.

 

True, but he's WAY better.

 

I don't even need Cole, though. Find a way to acquire a good pitcher like Minor, retain Odorizzi, and the Twins are most of the way to a good rotation.

 

But fer chrissakes, don't just sit on their effing hands for an entire offseason again when it comes to pitching.

We will get the latest edition of Correia, Pelfrey, Nolasco, Perez, Colon, etc to go with Berrios/Odo/Dobnak etc. The Pohlads have owned the team for 35 years now, there is no reason to expect them to all the sudden change their ways. They made bank this year doing it the way they have always done it- being competitive and hard-selling the future. The future never comes, though. Ever. 

    • bighat likes this

 

It's mind-boggling to me that Baldelli goes from his Joan of Arc patience with his starters to Captain Hook. As I can watch the games here in Japan on cable, I was a bit flummoxed at Baldelli's quick hook. Berrios was not getting hit hard IMHO and Dobnak wasn't even given a chance to work out of the jam despite his record of consistently managing such situations during the regular season. (I just wanted one more batter in the third inning. If you say he is your starter, there has to be a modicum of trust in his ability.)

In his 28 innings?

 

Personally, I think he left Dobnak in too long.

    • Mr. Brooks and Hosken Bombo Disco like this

 

All I can say is that Twins gave up 18 runs, were kind of, maybe in game one but arguably their three best pitchers -- Odorizzi, Rogers and Romo -- have yet to pitch in the series.

 

That's the problem with Rocco's super-smooth managing.

 

Kick 'em in the teeth Rocco.

 

Thing is though - by the time Duffey was brought in (both games) it was almost like the game had already spun out of control and was out of reach.

 

Bringing in Rogers with the bases loaded and nobody out, in the 3rd inning, already down 2-0....is that really the best use of Rogers? Even a solid outing by Rogers in that situation would still leave the Twins down 3-0 or 4-0 (as opposed to 7-0). So now you're down 4-0 and if you somehow come back to tie or take the lead, Rogers isn't there and you're watching Trevor May come in for 2 innings late in Yankee Stadium to close the door. Does that end well? Chances are it doesn't.

 

We knew pitching would be a problem. Everyone did. The Twins have been winning games with final scores of 9-7 all year long.

 

For the Twins to have any chance of winning the series (let alone the game) the offense is going to have to put up at least 8 runs. The offense scored 4 and 2 runs, respectively. There's simply no way this team can win games without more runs that that. Regardless of whether or not Rogers or Odorizzi were in the game or not.

 

The offense needs to score a bunch of runs. Period. Fair or not, it's on them to win this game and this series. Because the pitching staff is a lost cause, regardless of how they are managed.

 

    • Danchat likes this

Ironically, the small college I went to just ended a 12 game losing streak to a conference rival last Sat. Twins absolutely must win tonight to avoid putting a huge damper on a great season. They would also set the record for the most consecutive playoff losses in all of pro sports if they lose. I think Pedro Ramos is still alive. Maybe he could start tonight.

 

I don't get all the criticism.Doesn't it make sense to hold Rogers back until our backs against the wall and it really matters?

You mean like the 3inning with the base loaded?

 

In his 28 innings?

 

Personally, I think he left Dobnak in too long.

If that is the case he should never have started him. Or started him and gave him 1 or 2 innings only. If you send out a rookie (or even a young guy) and tell him this is your game, you must be almost perfect or we will pull you at the first sign of trouble, these are the kind of results you end up with most of the time.

    • Hosken Bombo Disco likes this

Hindsight...Berrios was probably taken out too soon. Dobnak needed to come out after 2 innings. His sinker wasn't sinking. the 'moment' kinda overtook him, which is understandable. He never should have come out for the 3rd. Hindsight.

 

Our hitters have been a terrible disappointment. All those 3-2 strikeouts. All those strikeouts period. Cron and Kepler look very injured and aren't helping the team at all. Sano hit a solo in game one and then he reverted back to that undisciplined hacker in game two. Rosario looks to me like a spoiled kid.

 

There has not been one specific thing that has sunk the Twins, It has been a total team effort. They are non-competitive. All those walks....shows the pitchers have no confidence in their stuff. Yanks have been patient. Twins not at all. Night and Day.

 

I've said this already...there are two types of fans. One tells you to stop complaining because what a great season they had..,.101 wins. The other says, until the team can succeed, even a little in post season, nothing else matters. We will be seeing both types of comments once this carnage is over.

 

And don't forget the Pineda effect. Look at how much he has hurt the teams chances in post season. Unforgivable IMO.

 

So---they just need to go out there and give it their best shot tonite...with nothing at all to lose. Until the Yanks get that 27th out, they haven't won anything. As unlikely as it is that anything will change, the score right now is still 0-0.

 

Go for it!!!!

    • rdehring and Battle ur tail off like this

 

It's mind-boggling to me that Baldelli goes from his Joan of Arc patience with his starters to Captain Hook. As I can watch the games here in Japan on cable, I was a bit flummoxed at Baldelli's quick hook. Berrios was not getting hit hard IMHO and Dobnak wasn't even given a chance to work out of the jam despite his record of consistently managing such situations during the regular season. (I just wanted one more batter in the third inning. If you say he is your starter, there has to be a modicum of trust in his ability.)

Has Baldelli really been that patient with his starters? Hard to tell with the rest strategy in play too, especially with our division lead, but pulling Berrios at 88 pitches doesn't seem too out of line. Especially given the quality opponent, the higher stakes, Berrios's stuff that day, and the heart of the order coming up for a third time. And Dobnak certainly doesn't have much history at all, much less a history of pitching deep into games.

 

Neither hook seemed surprising to me, but Stashak in a 1-run game was surprising, no hook for Gibson was surprising, and the first reliever choice of game 2 was very surprising (Duffey having already thrown 25 high stress pitches less than 24 hours earlier).

    • SwainZag, markos, Tomj14 and 1 other like this
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Battle ur tail off
Oct 07 2019 09:33 AM

 

You're underrating Berrios. Do you realize just how good he was this season? The Yankees didn't have a single starter as good as he was this season.

 

 

 

Hmmm. Not sure if you watched game 1, but the lefthander they threw out there was much more composed, had much better command, and struck out all kinds of Twins hitters. 

 

 

 

 

Thing is though - by the time Duffey was brought in (both games) it was almost like the game had already spun out of control and was out of reach.

 

Bringing in Rogers with the bases loaded and nobody out, in the 3rd inning, already down 2-0....is that really the best use of Rogers? Even a solid outing by Rogers in that situation would still leave the Twins down 3-0 or 4-0 (as opposed to 7-0). So now you're down 4-0 and if you somehow come back to tie or take the lead, Rogers isn't there and you're watching Trevor May come in for 2 innings late in Yankee Stadium to close the door. Does that end well? Chances are it doesn't.

 

We knew pitching would be a problem. Everyone did. The Twins have been winning games with final scores of 9-7 all year long.

 

For the Twins to have any chance of winning the series (let alone the game) the offense is going to have to put up at least 8 runs. The offense scored 4 and 2 runs, respectively. There's simply no way this team can win games without more runs that that. Regardless of whether or not Rogers or Odorizzi were in the game or not.

 

The offense needs to score a bunch of runs. Period. Fair or not, it's on them to win this game and this series. Because the pitching staff is a lost cause, regardless of how they are managed.

Actually the game was 1 - 0 when Duffey came into pitch on Saturday. He gave up a Sac fly, single, hit a batter than a grand slam and boom 7- 0.

So depending on how tonight goes, the Twins could finish a playoff series and never use arguably their pitcher.

But they did use Littell, Stashak and Duffey twice in a 1 run game.

 

 

    • bighat likes this

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