Twins Game Recap (9/14): Bullpen, Polanco Move the Needle in Win
Image courtesy of FanGraphsBox Score
Smeltzer: 3 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 59% strikes (29 of 49 pitches)
Bullpen: 6 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 8 K
Home Runs: Polanco (22)
Multi-Hit Games: Kepler (2-for-4), Arraez (2-for-4)
Top 3 WPA: Rogers (.209), Smeltzer (.162), Littell (.135)
Devin Smeltzer entered this start with 14 2/3 innings pitched against Cleveland. Smeltzer had allowed 17 hits, 13 runs and six homers, including three from Francisco Lindor. Smeltzer’s success against Lindor on Saturday was a reflection of his outing. He held the All-Star to two foul pop-outs and the Indians to just one hit and no runs in three innings.
Mike Clevinger started with his 11-2 record and 2.49 FIP. Luckily for the Twins, Jorge Polanco was not fazed. His two-run shot and dazzling diving stop in the third were decisive. Hitting home runs is vital in beating dominant pitchers, and Minnesota proved that on Saturday. Clevinger struck out 10 in eight strong innings.
The Twins were planning on one bullpen game Saturday, but not two. After Jake Odorizzi’s start was washed away, Minnesota knew they would need 18 innings from the second-best bullpen in the American League since Aug. 1. They did not disappoint in game one. Zack Littell made his case to be a primary set-up man down the stretch with two scoreless innings. Littell could fill in for Sam Dyson after the former Giant was shut down and will undergo evaluation on his right arm.
Taylor Rogers is seemingly unavailable for tonight's game after completing the five-out save. Rogers was huge once again, and is further submitting himself as one of the best relievers in baseball.
This win means Minnesota will lead the AL Central by at least 2.5 games heading into the final 13-game stretch with the White Sox, Royals, and Tigers. The Twins can smell the ALDS. The magic number is 11.
Postgame With Baldelli
Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet
Click here for a review of the number of pitches thrown by each member of the bullpen over the past five days.
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