Week in Review: Ups and Downs
Weekly Snapshot: Mon, 9/2 through Sun, 9/8
Record Last Week: 4-3 (Overall: 88-55)
Run Differential Last Week: -6 (Overall: +168)
Standing: 1st Place in the AL Central (5.5 GA)
Willians Watch: 5-for-14, RBI, R
Eddie Rosario might have had one of the biggest Twins highlights of the year with his game-saving throw off Boston’s Green Monster. He helped save the game and put the Twins up 6.5 games entering their critical three-game weekend series against the Indians.
Rosario’s game-saving throw capped off a tremendous road trip for the Twins where the club won eight of 10 games with 104 hits, 63 runs, and 19 home runs. This included breaking the single-season MLB home run record before Minnesota headed home to face Cleveland in a critical three-game set.
On Friday night, Minnesota ended up falling in extra-innings to the Indians, but one of the coolest moments happened earlier in the game. Carlos Carrasco has been battling leukemia throughout the 2019 campaign and he recently returned to action. When Miguel Sano stepped to the plate in the eighth inning, he tipped his helmet to the pitcher fondly referred to as “Cookie.” Sano would strike out in the at-bat, but it shows that some things are bigger than the game.
Not knowing his suspension was coming on Saturday, it was impressive to see Michael Pineda in what could be his last time on the Target Field mound. He went six strong innings by allowing one run on four hits and striking out a season-high 10 Cleveland batters. In his last 10 starts (59 1/3 innings), he posted a 2.88 ERA with a 65-to-13 strikeout to walk ratio, but now he’s done for the year.
Pineda’s suspension might be the biggest lowlight in the Twins season, especially since it sounds like he deliberately took the drug without consulting the Twins medical staff. In case you missed it, Pineda took hydrochlorothiazide, a banned diuretic, that he obtained from a close acquaintance. He does become the first MLB player to appeal the suspension and have it reduced from 80 games to 60 games. It was still a crushing blow to Minnesota’s playoff hopes.
With Pineda out of the picture, Berrios and his recent struggles take on an even bigger importance. Many have been calling for him to get some time off and he had his start pushed back a day last week, but the results weren’t much better. At one point in the game, he retired 11 of 13 batters and this included a web gem play by himself. However, he allowed six earned runs on eight hits (two Mookie Betts home runs) with six strikeouts and three walks. Berrios likely has three more starts before the playoffs and the Twins need to find a solution to what ails him.
Rosario, a core piece of Minnesota’s line-up, might have provided the biggest defensive play of the week, but he looked lost at the plate with almost no plate discipline. He’s always been a free swinger and that has certainly been the case in recent weeks. Over his last 24 games, he is hitting .235/.252/.392 with 19 strikeouts and three walks. For a player with a career .309 OBP, it’s been tough to watch some of his at-bats, especially his approach at the plate.
On Saturday, Mitch Garver helped the Twins to victory with two home runs and he also joined the franchise record books. Garver has hit all his homers as a catcher so his 27th and 28th home run moved him past Earl Battey’s 1963 total of 26.
What Garver has done is truly impressive because of the limited number of games he has played this year. Battey played 147 games during his record-setting season and Garver’s 28 homers have come in a half-time role where he just cracked the 80 games played mark. He added another home run on Sunday, but it came as the designated hitter.
Minnesota is also closing in on the single-season home run record for catchers in baseball history. Three MLB teams have accumulated 43 homers from the catcher’s position and Minnesota finished play on Sunday with 41 catcher home runs on the year.
Another record within Minnesota’s reach is the most players in franchise history with 30 or more homers in a season. Right now, Max Kepler and Nelson Cruz have already crossed the 30-homer plateau. Garver is one homer away and Rosario is two short of 30. Sano is also sitting at 27 long balls, so there is a realistic chance for five players to finish with 30 home runs or more.
DOWN ON THE FARM
Playoffs were the name of the game in the minor leagues as two Twins affiliates, the Kernels and the Blue Wahoos, attempted to advance. Alex Kiriloff and Royce Lewis came up big in Pensacola’s first playoff game, but they can’t play both sides of the ball.
Kirilloff has been a one-man wrecking crew during postseason play as he homered in the Blue Wahoos’ first four playoff games. The Blue Wahoos pushed Biloxi to a decisive fifth game on Sunday night. Cedar Rapids fell in their first game of the best-of-three Western Division Championship, which means the club needs to roll off two straight wins to advance.
Check out Sunday’s Minor League Report to see how the clubs fared and if Kirilloff was able to continue his home run streak.
Minnesota will get an off-day on Monday before facing a strong Washington team for three games. Currently, the Nationals hold a three-game lead on the NL’s top Wild Card spot, so they have plenty to play for with the hot Arizona Diamondbacks making a quick move toward the top. Luckily, the Twins will avoid Max Scherzer as he isn’t scheduled to start in the series, but the trio of Sanchez, Strasburg and Corbin will be tough.
Following the Nationals series, the Twins head to Cleveland for their final three games with the Indians. Cleveland faces off with the Angels for three games and has an off-day on Thursday. If Cleveland were able to sweep Los Angeles and Minnesota lost three to Washington, the division lead could be down to 2.5 games entering next weekend.
Buckle up, Twins Territory.
TUESDAY, 9/10: NATIONALS @ TWINS – RHP Anibal Sanchez vs. RHP Jose Berrios
WEDNESDAY, 9/11: NATIONALS @ TWINS – RHP Stephen Strasburg vs. LHP Martin Perez
THURSDAY, 9/12: NATIONALS @ TWINS – LHP Patrick Corbin vs. RHP Kyle Gibson
FRIDAY, 9/13: TWINS @ INDIANS – RHP Randy Dobnak vs. RHP Aaron Civale
SATURDAY, 9/14: TWINS @ INDIANS – RHP Jake Odorizzi vs. RHP Mike Clevinger
SUNDAY, 9/15: TWINS @ INDIANS – RHP Jose Berrios vs. RHP Shane Bieber
Catch Up on Twins Daily Game Recaps
- Game 137 | MIN 4, DET 3: Late Labor Day Offense Propels Twins
- Game 138 | MIN 6, BOS 5: Twins Win Nail-biter in Fenway
- Game 139 | BOS 6, MIN 2: Berrios Continues Rough Stretch, Rodriguez Sails
- Game 140 | MIN 2, BOS 1: Eddie Rosario Throw Seals 2-1 Victory
- Game 141 | CLE 6, MIN 2: Offense Dominated as Twins Fall in Extras
- Game 142 | MIN 5, CLE 3: Odorizzi, Garver Power the Twins to Victory
- Game 143 |CLE 5, MIN 2: Clevinger Shuts Down the Scuffling Twins Offense
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