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Article: MIN 9, CLE 3: Twins Take Series Behind Pineda, Tortuga

michael pineda willians astudillo nelson cruz martin perez ryne harper
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#1 Tom Froemming

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Posted 31 March 2019 - 03:03 PM

The Twins got off to a cold start against the vaunted Cleveland rotation the first two games, but Willians Astudillo helped break the ice in his first game of the season. La Tortuga drove in the first run with an RBI double in the second inning, followed with another double in the fourth and delivered a sacrifice fly in the fifth that ended up scoring two runs thanks to a Cleveland error.Snapshot (chart via FanGraphs)
Pineda: 4.0 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 70.0% strikes
Home Runs: Cruz (1)
Multi-Hit Games: Cruz (3-for-5, HR, 2B), Astudillo (2-for-2, 2 2Bs), Cron (2-for-3, 2B), Schoop (2-for-4, 2B), Buxton (2-for-4, 2B), Polanco (2-for-4)
WPA of 0.1 or higher: Pineda .223, Astudillo .157, Buxton .128
WPA of -0.1 or lower: None
Download attachment: WinChart331.png

For his efforts, Astudillo was immediately hit by a pitch in his next at-bat. Not cool.

There were plenty of Twins making loud contact today. Nelson Cruz hit the first Twins home run of the season, a 427-foot blast that hit the facing of the second deck, in addition to two other hits. Byron Buxton had a two-run double which was the hardest hit ball of the game for the Twins at 111.6 mph. Both C.J. Cron and Jonathan Schoop also had extra-base hits.



But it was Astudillo who got the scoring started against Carlos Carrasco. In his last three outings against the Twins last season, Carrasco only surrendered three earned runs over 21 1/3 innings (1.27 ERA). Of course, this is a very different Twins lineup than they had in late-2018. Carrasco gave up six runs on 10 hits over 4 1/3 inning today.

In all, the Twins had nine balls they hit with an exit velocity of 105 mph or harder. The first two games were a little tough to watch, but Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer are insanely good. Carrasco isn’t far behind those two, but I’m not certain any rotation will keep this Twins lineup down for long.

The pitching staff is a much bigger area of concern, but what a series they just had. No, Cleveland’s current lineup doesn’t exactly invoke fear, but you still have to execute pitches. This Twins staff did a very good job at that this series.

Michael Pineda was incredibly efficient in his first major league start since July 5, 2017 (more on that in a minute), Martin Perez also looked good in his Twins debut, Trevor Hildenberger had a scoreless appearance and Ryne Harper made his major league debut.

Paint By Numbers Pitching Plan
It’s been a great first three games. The Twins took the series against the team they’ll be fighting for the division all summer, and this was a big when you consider these teams won’t face each other again until June. Positives all around. If you want to leave it at that and not nitpick, feel free to just scroll on through this section.

Michael Pineda threw 28 of his first 40 pitches were strikes, a rate of 70%, which is excellent. He faced the minimum through four innings and racked up five strikeouts. You couldn’t have really asked for a better start, so it’s blatantly obvious he was coming out of today’s game after four innings no matter what he did.

Yes, this was Pineda’s first major league outing since 2017, but his arm has been recovered from Tommy John surgery for quite some time. He made four rehab appearances in the minor leagues last season, but a knee injury prevented him from making a late-season return. If there was any concern over his health, Pineda certainly wouldn’t have thrown a team-high 20 1/3 innings this spring.

Martin Perez took over in the fifth inning with the Twins leading 3-0. He gave up a leadoff single and issued a one-out walk. That created the highest leverage situation we would see all game, according to the leverage index, but Perez managed to escape that inning unscathed. The stuff was every bit as electric as we saw in spring, as he topped out at 97.2 mph.

While Perez’s stuff looked very good, he was nowhere near as sharp as Pineda had been. It took Perez 82 pitches to get through 3 2/3 innings. He struck out six, which is impressive, but he gave up three runs on five hits and three walks. Luckily the Twins had built up an 8-0 lead.

Perez needed work, I get that, but I’m not a fan of a game plan that’s so rigid you can’t adjust it when your starting pitcher is cruising at the level that Pineda was. That kind of managing is on par with simply batting whoever is catching eighth everyday. Oh … that’s happening right now too.

Anyway, the Twins tacked on five runs in the bottom of the fifth inning, relieving any potential for that move to look really bad in hindsight. I just really don’t like that level of a paint-by-numbers game plan. It appeared the Twins were willing to potentially sacrifice this game in order to keep Perez stretched out. As if that was every bit as important as winning this game.

Kyle Gibson was pushed back to the No. 4 starter because he was a bit behind schedule in comparison to his rotation mates. That being the case, if you’re going to piggyback Perez with anyone, shouldn’t it have been Gibson? Or can’t Perez throw a simulated game? I dunno, it just all seems weird, but all’s well that ends well.

Sire of Fort Myers Debuts
Even with all these great performances, nobody had a better day than Ryne Harper. The 30-year-old veteran of the minor leagues finally made his major league debut. He switched his number from 70 to 19, which seems fitting because 2019 is a year he’ll never forget.

Harper took over in the ninth with the Twins leading 9-3. Basically the perfect situation to work a guy into his first big league game. He didn’t show nearly as good command as he did down in spring training, walking a pair of batters, but he did spin in some nice curveballs and kept Cleveland off the board for his inning. He finished things off with a swinging strikeout.



The average person wouldn’t have pursued this dream as long as Ryne Harper. Most 29-year-old pitchers who struggle to crack 90 mph wouldn’t have spent most of their age 29 season pitching in Double A. Harper never gave up. It’s been an absolute pleasure getting to know his story and follow his journey.

Postgame With Baldelli


Bullpen Usage
Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days:
Download attachment: Bullpen331.png

Next Three Games
Tue at KC, 7:15 pm CT
Wed at KC, 12:15 pm CT
Fri at PHI, 6:05 pm CT

Last Game
CLE 2, MIN 1: Odorizzi Strikes Out 11, Wild Parker Surrenders Go-Ahead Run

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The Next Minnesota Twins - 2019
Analyzing the Twins' 2019 Schedule

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#2 Doomtints

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Posted 31 March 2019 - 03:07 PM

The battle for first place v. KC begins.

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#3 shimrod

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Posted 31 March 2019 - 03:20 PM

Once again, why wasn't Tortuga batting for Kepler yesterday? 

 

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#4 jkcarew

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Posted 31 March 2019 - 03:33 PM

Next time the Twins see Cleveland will be a long time from now and Cleveland will no longer be playing their B lineup. Still, encouraged that Buxton and Pineda can move the needle some this year...two guys that didn’t help the club at all last year (obviously).
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#5 twins_89

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Posted 31 March 2019 - 03:36 PM

It was great to see the Twins bats come to life, especially against a guy who was one of the best starters in baseball last season. On the pitching side, Pineda looks great and hopefully he can stay healthy this season. Perez on the other hand doesn't look like a starting pitcher. His stuff was good but 3 walks and over 80 pitches in under 4 innings sounds more like a long reliever than a starter. Luckily he has a couple more outings to make adjustments before he will be in line to start. 

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#6 Mike Sixel

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Posted 31 March 2019 - 03:40 PM

I wonder what Astudillo would have to do to get regular at bats?
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It's IL now, btw, not DL.....


#7 Hosken Bombo Disco

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Posted 31 March 2019 - 03:52 PM

The Twins wrote the exact same lineup (except catchers) all three games. That's impressive and shows confidence.

 

Traditionally, we would have seen a "getaway" Sunday lineup today, considering how the starters struggled the first two games and the perceived importance of getting bench guys into the actions. Turns out, bench guys got into the game anyway. 

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#8 ashbury

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Posted 31 March 2019 - 03:55 PM

I wonder what Astudillo would have to do to get regular at bats?

Under Molitor: not make baserunning mistakes like we saw today.

 

I'm hopeful that Rocco isn't quite so doctrinaire. Figure out what the players can do, not hang them for what they don't.

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#9 snotboogie

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Posted 31 March 2019 - 04:05 PM

This is the kind of game that simply makes me happy.  Buck gets a couple of hits.  Torguga gets his hits and makes a heads-up play on defense.  Starting pitcher looks good.  Happy, happy, happy.

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#10 USAFChief

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Posted 31 March 2019 - 04:06 PM

Under Molitor: not make baserunning mistakes like we saw today.

I'm hopeful that Rocco isn't quite so doctrinaire. Figure out what the players can do, not hang them for what they don't.

I think that baserunning mistake was on Buxton. It was hard to tell, but I'm pretty sure Astudillo got the stop sign from the third base coach, then the coach started frantically windmilling when he saw Buxton charge around second.
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#11 USAFChief

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Posted 31 March 2019 - 04:07 PM

In any case, 2 of 3 to start the year, against Clevelands top 3 starters, is acceptable.
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#12 Hosken Bombo Disco

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Posted 31 March 2019 - 04:09 PM

So much went right today it would be hard to list everything.

 

Astudillo hitting and backing up that throw, Buxton's big two-out double, Cruz hitting as advertised, Schoop, Cron and Kepler finally hitting. Pineda's pitching, even Perez went out with a game plan to pitch high and inside, was very consistent doing that, though he was still missing that high inside corner. Marwin Gonzalez being aggressive and going to third when the Cleveland left fielder (left handed) took a wide route to that ball hit near the line.

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#13 LA VIkes Fan

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Posted 31 March 2019 - 04:18 PM

How about a brief lineup change debate?Kepler looks uncomfortable and overmatched leading off and Rosatrio was more comfortable batting 2 than 4 last year. Plus having Cruz behind you helps your pitch selection. I say move Polanco up to leadoff, then Rosario, Cruz, Cron, Kepler/Cave, etc. Even better, put Astudillo in and hit him 2. Two lineups I like:

 

Polanco 

Rosario

Cruz

Cron

Kepler/Cave

Gonzalez

Schoop

Castro/Garver/Astudillo

Buxton

 

Or,let's get radical. Play Astudillo every day, sitting one of Schoop, Gonzalez or Castro/Garver. Lineup:

 

Polanco

Astudillo/Gonzalez

Rosario

Cruz

Cron/Austin

Kepler/Cave

Schoop/Gonzalez

Castro/Garver

Buxton  

 

What do you guys think?

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#14 Riverbrian

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Posted 31 March 2019 - 04:26 PM

 

I wonder what Astudillo would have to do to get regular at bats?

 

 

If I was the Manager... He starts on Tuesday. Let players keep hitting if they are hitting. 

 

Of course on Monday... He'll be writing on the blackboard: "I will look for instructions from my third base coach" 1,000 times before Tuesday.:)

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#15 Riverbrian

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Posted 31 March 2019 - 04:29 PM

 

Next time the Twins see Cleveland will be a long time from now and Cleveland will no longer be playing their B lineup. Still, encouraged that Buxton and Pineda can move the needle some this year...two guys that didn’t help the club at all last year (obviously).

 

I'd say "C" lineup. The return of Lindor and Kipnis (who knows what Zimmer will provide) will only bring them up to a "B". 

 

And... you also must consider that by the time Lindor comes back... There is no guarantee that Ramirez will remain healthy. 

 

The Indians are extremely vulnerable in my opinion. 

 

Unfortunately... So are the Twins.:)

 

 

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#16 PseudoSABR

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Posted 31 March 2019 - 04:36 PM

 

In any case, 2 of 3 to start the year, against Clevelands top 3 starters, is acceptable.

Don't go overboard with praise there, Chief.

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#17 Riverbrian

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Posted 31 March 2019 - 04:38 PM

 

I think that baserunning mistake was on Buxton. It was hard to tell, but I'm pretty sure Astudillo got the stop sign from the third base coach, then the coach started frantically windmilling when he saw Buxton charge around second.

 

You could be right... if there was a stop sign... I didn't see it. But... it would make sense because Astudillo has played enough baseball to pick up the third base coach and when he blatantly stops during a windmill... he must have picked up something different and assumed his work was done.  

 

I'd still make him go to the blackboard.:)

 

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#18 jkcarew

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Posted 31 March 2019 - 04:46 PM

I'd say "C" lineup. The return of Lindor and Kipnis (who knows what Zimmer will provide) will only bring them up to a "B". 
 
And... you also must consider that by the time Lindor comes back... There is no guarantee that Ramirez will remain healthy. 
 
The Indians are extremely vulnerable in my opinion. 
 
Unfortunately... So are the Twins.:)


Carlos Gonzalez, as well, will be an improvement...even such that he is at this point in his career.
That is an awful lineup right now...and then Ramirez wasn’t swinging it...might have rushed him back.
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#19 Riverbrian

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Posted 31 March 2019 - 04:47 PM

 

Don't go overboard with praise there, Chief.

 

I was baking a Papa Murphy's Pizza the other night. It was supposed to cook at 425 Degrees for 12 to 18 Minutes. 

 

My sister called while it was cooking and I lost track of time and the pizza spent around 20 minutes in the oven. 

 

The Pizza ended up with some burn marks on the bottom of the crust. 

 

After a having a couple of slices... I declared the Pizza "Acceptable". 

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#20 Sconnie

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Posted 31 March 2019 - 04:54 PM

I'd say "C" lineup. The return of Lindor and Kipnis (who knows what Zimmer will provide) will only bring them up to a "B".

And... you also must consider that by the time Lindor comes back... There is no guarantee that Ramirez will remain healthy.

The Indians are extremely vulnerable in my opinion.

Unfortunately... So are the Twins. :)

was it “their C squad”? Missing Lindor is a big miss. Kipnis, how much does he have left?

Major league C squad, sure. Indians B plus. They are doomed to a cruddy lineup unless the FO can swing a trade.
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