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Article: MIN 9, HOU 5: Bats Thrive, Pitching Survives

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#1 John Bonnes

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Posted 22 April 2019 - 10:48 PM

Half the game was a party. The other half was torture. But the underdog Twins won an important game versus the Astros on Monday night thanks to a free-wheeling offense, nervy pitching from some unlikely names and some stellar defense.Box Score
Odorizzi: 5.2 IP, 8 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 63% strikes
Home Runs: Castro (1), Polanco (4)
Multi-Hit Games: Polanco (4-5, 2B, HR), Cruz (2-5, both infield hits)
WPA of +0.1: Odorizzi (.157), Cron (.146), Polanco (.149), Kepler (.112)
WPA of -0.1: none

Download attachment: 2019-04-22 WPA Chart.JPG
(chart via FanGraphs)

Lowest High-Hanging Fruit
This is the game in this series that the Twins really needed. On Tuesday they’ll face Wade Miley (LHP, 3.32 ERA) and on Wednesday Justin Verlander (3.00 ERA, 38K). Tonight they faced Brad Peacock, who is far from a pushover, but is Houston's fifth starter and hadn’t pitched as a starter in two weeks.

But that doesn’t mean it was low-hanging fruit. The Astros were still favored. Vegas gave them a 60% chance of winning.

Survive and Advance
Given the offense was seeing the back of the Astros' rotation, the Twins biggest challenge was keeping the Astros' lineup relatively in check for nine innings. Twins starting pitching hasn’t had a lot of success getting much past the fifth inning, even with good starts.

Plus, after playing (and winning) three games over the last two days, the Twins two best relievers were probably unavailable. Taylor Rogers threw 45 pitches Saturday and Sunday, and Trevor Hildenberger threw 38, so it was unlikely either was going to be used except in the direst of emergencies.

Odorizzi's performance gave him the highest Win Probability Added (WPA) score, and it probably underplays just how valuable he was. He navigated the Astros lineup almost completely three times. You might remember that navigating a lineup three times was not Odorizzi’s strong suit last year: opponents had a 1.159 OPS against him when facing him a third time. This time he gutted his way through 5 2/3 IP, giving up just two runs. Trevor May, who also threw 20 pitches yesterday, got the last out of the sixth.

That left three fairly high-leverage innings to navigate and four available bullpen arms: RHP (and closer) Blake Parker, RHP Ryne Harper, RHP Tyler Duffey and LHP Adalberto Mejia. Manager Rocco Baldelli chose Harper for the seventh inning, Mejia for the eighth and Parker for the ninth. Harper gave up a three-run home run on a questionable pitch choice, but the rest of the trio held. The Twins had the game they needed, pieced together from some unlikely names.

Defensive Play Of The Game
In the bottom of the fourth, with the Twins leading 3-1, Odorizzi escaped a possible big inning thanks to an Eddie Rosario to Jonathan Schoop to Jason Catro relay that cut down Josh Reddick at the plate. Enjoy:



More Offense
The firepower that the Twins displayed in Baltimore continued in Houston, with a couple of noteworthy rebounds. Jorge Polanco, after a mini-slump in Baltimore and a rough first at-bat, had another monster game. Seriously, he has a .776 slugging percentage. That's obscene. Jason Castro, who entered the game hitting .143, left the game with an .823 OPS and hit his first home run this year. And Nelson Cruz beat out two infield singles that left Twins announcer Dick Bremer joking about the imminent apocalypse. Watching the top half of the innings was legitimately fun all night.

Alternately, the bottom half was legitimately nerve-racking, but a middle-of-the-rotation starter and some middle relief arms did anything but a middling job. The Twins stole a game in Houston while simultaneously resting some of their more valuable bullpen arms. That can only help as they face even more difficult pitching the next two nights.

Bullpen Usage
Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days. It looks like the only bullpen arm who might be held back is Trevor May:

Download attachment: 2019-04-22 Bullpen.JPG

Next Three Games
Tue at HOU, 7:10 pm CT (Pineda-Miley)
Wed at HOU, 7:10 pm CT (TBD-Verlander)
Fri vs BLT, 7:10 pm CT (Berrios?-Cobb?)

Last Game
MIN 4, BAL 3: Gibby Good, Hildy Holds, Rogers Saves the Sweep

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#2 Aerodeliria

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Posted 22 April 2019 - 11:07 PM

It seems like a number of folks are questioning that pitch choice and location to Correa by Harper. Am I correct in assuming it was the fastball?


#3 Otwins

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Posted 22 April 2019 - 11:52 PM

It was a fastball on the inside part of the plate after he did not look good against the curveballs

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#4 Lasorda_This_Out

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Posted 23 April 2019 - 12:08 AM

Rosario to Schoop to Castro.... (even though Bert/Dick had the initial call to Polanco..(fart broadcast call...age issues here?).

 

The key play to Twins win......22April2019

 

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#5 Lasorda_This_Out

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Posted 23 April 2019 - 12:19 AM

Dick and Bert are......so GrandPa MLB?

Twins MLB corporate needs to address......

Your future ticket holders are 19-35...not 60+?

Dave Flemming...SF KNBR....get!?

 

 

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#6 sloopjont

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Posted 23 April 2019 - 03:06 AM

Lasorda_This_Out wrote: Rosario to Schoop to Castro.... (even though Bert/Dick had the initial call to Polanco..(fart broadcast call...age issues here?).

 

Looked like the relay was supposed to go to Polanco but Rosario overshot him.Luckily Schoop was backing up the play and caught his throw and relayed to home.I'd have to give Dick a break on this one; he knew who was supposed to get the relay and likely, in the heat of the moment, didn't immediately recognize the unintended relay man.

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#7 MMMordabito

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Posted 23 April 2019 - 04:52 AM

We're talkin' baseball
Berrios and Polanco
Talkin' baseball
Eddie, Buck and Garver
Hildy, May and Rogers comin' through
They knew 'em all from 'kato to Duluth
La Tortuga, Kepler, Cron and Cruz

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#8 bighat

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Posted 23 April 2019 - 05:29 AM

 

Great win. Harper was going to get touched up at some point - he's not a "high leverage" guy and this is exactly why. I guess what I'm saying is, it'd bother me a lot more if we lost. Nice to have a game where the Twins could use both Mejia and Harper and get some other guys some rest - against the Astros, no less!

 

That defensive play by Rosario/Schoop was huge. Rosie and Polanco are playing just great and this team is fun to watch right now. Let's go steal one tonight!

 

 

 

Dick and Bert are......so GrandPa MLB?

Twins MLB corporate needs to address......

Your future ticket holders are 19-35...not 60+?

Dave Flemming...SF KNBR....get!?

 

So you're proposing something more like...this? Gotta keep those hip happenin' kids interested:

 

eb9252.jpg

 

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#9 diehardtwinsfan

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Posted 23 April 2019 - 05:51 AM

I love it... Now get one more and I'll be quite happy about this series.

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#10 bunt_vs_the_shift

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Posted 23 April 2019 - 06:06 AM

How 'bout some love for Polanco? He doesn't wear his emotions on his sleeve, which is probably why it seems like he can get overlooked, but he's just flat out smooth and he can get Rosario-like hot at the plate. I always felt like he was the key guy a couple years ago when we went on our run and chased down the wildcard and also a big part of what was missing last year when he got suspended. But PEDs aside (and yes, I realize that may factor into his public image), I just love how he just consistently makes plays day in and day out and he's the same age as Buxton (25)!

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#11 rdehring

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Posted 23 April 2019 - 06:43 AM

Coming into this series, I would have been elated if the Twins could get one win.OK, they got it.Hopefully, they will get a second win and take the series.This team just might be for real, let's get on board for an exciting summer of baseball.

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#12 Old Twins Cap

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Posted 23 April 2019 - 06:43 AM

Polanco has huge eyes, if I can say it like that.

 

Baseball players need to see really small things, really big things, and everything in between.

 

I bet he sees in the dark.

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#13 USAFChief

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Posted 23 April 2019 - 06:51 AM

 

Lasorda_This_Out wrote: Rosario to Schoop to Castro.... (even though Bert/Dick had the initial call to Polanco..(fart broadcast call...age issues here?).

 

Looked like the relay was supposed to go to Polanco but Rosario overshot him.Luckily Schoop was backing up the play and caught his throw and relayed to home.I'd have to give Dick a break on this one; he knew who was supposed to get the relay and likely, in the heat of the moment, didn't immediately recognize the unintended relay man.

That's not luck, that's how relays on those type of plays work. Polanco and Schoop were lined up between Rosario and the plate (with Gonzalez and Cron also in line, but spaced out closer to the plate) on purpose. Rosario throws it on line, hard and low, and one of them will be in position to accept the throw (and relay if appropriate) no matter how far Rosario throws it. 

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#14 Dman

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Posted 23 April 2019 - 06:59 AM

Even though we had the early lead I kind of figured that Houston would reel the Twins in by taking advantage of our bullpen.After Harper gave up the home run I said to myself here we go, even after scoring a bunch of runs Houston will still win this game.  

 

My negativity must have been negated though as we hung on to win. Would be awesome to steal another game but I am very happy to get at least one win in Houston where they are very tough to beat.

Edited by Dman, 23 April 2019 - 07:29 AM.

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#15 USAFChief

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Posted 23 April 2019 - 07:00 AM

Really nice win, but that bullpen...yeesh.

 

I don't see any way the current bullpen holds up through a long season.

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#16 jorgenswest

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Posted 23 April 2019 - 07:04 AM

One game at a time...

The Twins are getting contributions from all 25. Big inning from Mejia.
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#17 bighat

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Posted 23 April 2019 - 07:18 AM

The egg the Twins laid against Toronto seems like a million years ago right now. This team is 13-7, 1.5 games ahead in the division.

 

8-3 on the road

5-4 at home

 

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#18 dbminn

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Posted 23 April 2019 - 07:32 AM

 

One game at a time...

The Twins are getting contributions from all 25. Big inning from Mejia.

 

Mejia looks like he's getting more comfortable with airing it out. 

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#19 tarheeltwinsfan

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Posted 23 April 2019 - 07:38 AM

Two thousandths of a percentage point from having the best record in all of major league baseball.One day at a time. That's why today is called the "present". It is a gift.

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#20 wsnydes

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Posted 23 April 2019 - 07:39 AM

 

The Twins are getting contributions from all 25. 

I think this point is getting overlooked a bit so far this season. At least as it pertains to the position players. I think Rocco is doing a good job of getting everyone pretty regular playing time, especially considering the odd scheduling so far. Hopefully when the schedule normalizes he doesn't continue with the hockey line change approach, but I do like that he's getting guys AB's with regularity. That should pay dividends when the inevitable injury bug starts biting.

 

It does help that the bench players are able to play multiple positions. That hasn't been the case in recent seasons, but I think Rocco is doing pretty well with what he's got.

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