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HOU 3, MIN 1: Hello Darkness, My Old Friend


Andrew Thares
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Make it 18 straight losses. The Twins got to play a team that had a losing record in the regular season and still managed to get swept. Their commitment to extending this streak is unwavering. The Twins mustered just one run again today.

 

Pain.Box Score

Berríos: 5 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 K

Home Runs: None

Bottom 3 WPA: Kepler -.128, Jeffers -.125, Rogers -.123

 

Jose Berrios came to play with his best stuff early. Through three innings, Berrios was perfect, and he only needed 29 pitches to get those nine very quick outs. Berrios made an excellent defensive play on an attempted bunt single by Kyle Tucker in the second. With the left-handed pull shift on, Berrios knew he was the only defender to cover that play, and he made it look easy.

 

After two more quick outs in the fourth, the Astros put together a two-out rally. It started with walks to both Michael Brantley and Alex Bregman, before a weakly hit ball off the bat of Kyle Tucker found a hole in the Twins shift, bring Brantley around to score the first run of the game. Berrios was able to get Yuli Gurriel to ground out to third to end the inning.

 

Berrios had another strong inning in the fifth. After surrendering a leadoff single to Carlos Correa in the inning, Berrios locked in and kept Correa from even advancing to second before getting out of the inning. Despite looking great through five, and only throwing 75 pitches, Rocco Baldelli decided that was enough from Berrios for the game, as he went to Cody Stashek in the pen to start the sixth.

 

The Twins bats found themselves in a very similar situation to yesterday’s game in the first toady. With two outs in the inning, they loaded the bases and appeared primed to strike early. This time, the batter was Alex Kiriloff, who was making his MLB debut in a pivotal spot in the Postseason. Kirilloff was able to put a good swing on the ball, but just missed it a bit and hit a lazy flyball out to center. Kirilloff came up again in the fourth and picked up his first major league hit on a 105 MPH line drive to right-field.

 

 

It wasn’t until the fifth inning that the Twins bats were finally able to scratch across a run. Marwin Gonzalez was given credit for a single after reaching on what was a tough play for Jose Altuve at second. Ryan Jeffers then followed that up by striking out looking on a 3-2 pitch that was clearly out of the zone. Luis Arraez then drew a one out walk, before Max Kepler also went down looking. Now with two outs, Nelson Cruz came up big in an eerily similar way to how the Twins scored their lone run yesterday. This time it was a pulled double over the left-fielders head that bounced of the wall, and then back over the left-fielders head back towards the field. Gonzalez came around to score the tying run easily, but then Luis Arraez was nailed at the plate trying to score the go-ahead run to end the inning.

 

The controversy of the game came in Eddie Rosario’s leadoff at-bat in the sixth. With a three one count, Rosario drew what appeared to be a pretty clear walk. However, home plate umpire Manny Gonzalez did not see it that way, and called it strike two. Eddie Rosario was visibly upset with the strike call and had a few words with Gonzalez. Rosario wound up striking out on a foul tip a couple pitches later and let Manny Gonzalez have it. This led to Gonzalez ejecting Rosario from the game. Earlier in the game, it was Astros hitter George Springer who had words with Gonzalez after a missed strike three call. Here is the replay of both situations, so you can decide for yourself how they were handled by home plate umpire Manny Gonzalez.

 

 

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Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet

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I would break up the core too.  Too mentally weak to be successful in the post-season (with a few exceptions).  Some of those extensions might not look so good pretty soon.

Worst part is, you still have to watch 162 games to find out the same guys are still too scared to play in the postseason 

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Questions for the off-season:

 

1.  Can Sano be salvaged or is he done?

2.  Who to get rid off outright?  Gonzales, Astudillo, Adrienza, Avila, Romo, ?

3.  Who to trade?  Rosario, Thorpe, Smeltzer??

4.  What else?  It's officially the off-season......

I think every name you mentioned will not be on this team next year.

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Two of the most unsatisfying, unwatchable, disappointing post season games yet. What did the Twins do right? Pretty much nothing. Nellie drove in both runs. The starters pitched well but not long enough...thank you Rocco. Past that, they were collectively awful.

 

I don't understand removing Cruz for Buxton and then yet again, not having Buxton move....until he gets picked off with 2 outs. Why didn't he run, first pitch? If he couldn't run, why put him in. Byron did not have a good final week...the beaning didn't help, but he didn't help much.

the bullpen was...lets be kind....not good. And Romo and Rogers did what they did a lot during the season....come in and give up untimely runs. Romo Was out of the strike zone but all he had to do with a 2-2 count on a hitter doing nothing was let him hit. Instead he threw on practically in the dirt and then high out of the zone to walk in the go ahead run.

Rogers job was to keep the deficit at 1...within 3 batters the deficit was 2.

 

When you watched the dejected team leave the dugout Sunday, even after learning they won the Division (by default) you could almost sense they weren't well. 3 straight home losses...all ugly....all poorly played....all very winnable.

 

Twins deserved to lose this series, by the way they played. But there was no reasonable way to think they couldn't beat a Houston team that wasn't very good.

turns out, it was the Twins who were not very good....a pretty much team and manager effort. There are no excuses, even with Donaldson and Buxton not healthy. It was a brutally sad way to end the season. Why are we always the first team eliminated?

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18 games in a row. Thats hard to believe as my team has nationwide announcers believing the Padres with no good pitching left are the eventual WS winners.

 

Developing pitching every year. Good pitching almost always stops good hitting.

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Andrew - did you draw the short straw?  What a painful game to recap.  No one in Twins land can be happy.  Two pitchers - Maeda and Berrios did well and should have pitched longer and one old guy got two doubles and drove in all the runs.  So where are the bombas?  Maybe getting a hit is not so old school as the Twins seem to think.  The Astros got those "lucky" hits and keep on going.  

 

But we stick with the formula - Romo and Rogers at the end of games was a farce.  I do not want them to fail, but when they are in seasons like this they should only pitch in blow outs.  

 

We dreamt of a Rosario, Kepler, Buxton OF to lead us to the promised land.  Has that dream vanished?  What next?  

 

Is Donaldson going to earn his millions or will this be the next sad story line. 

 

And then there is Kiriloff who was put into a terrible position.  We could not play him the last week of the season, but we can start him in the most crucial game.

 

So many regrets and such a disappointment. 

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Three times this basic group of core Twins have weakly bowed out of the playoffs in the opening round. Does that cause the FO to shake up the core some?

Again Rocco pulled the starter too early just like last game. Some of the players need to be let go or traded. Polanco, Rosario, Garver and Rogers need to be sent elsewhere. Say byebye to Romo. Sign Clippard, May and Wisler. Sign a good closer. Sign a good defensive catcher. Promote top 5 prospects aggressively. Let Rooker play regularly. Don't be afraid of letting Sano or any key player ride the bench if he struggles consistently.

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Last year when the Twins won 101 games they were 7 below .500 against teams who were above .500.

 

Shouldn't this have been an opportunity last offseason to say you know you keep those players that do well against winning teams and trade those who do not to see what we can get. Why because you have to face those teams from other divisions that are beating up bad Central division teams.

 

I'm not sure, also, the love for Maeda. First half very good in his career second half bullpen pitcher. The Dodgers aren't stupid. Looks like Garver has little trade value now. Nelson Cruz my favourite player of yours who could have caught a game tying triple in the 2011 World Series makes me wonder if he returned to the juice.

 

Josh Donaldson is always a rupture away from a career ending season.

 

Minor league pitching ddevelopment emphasis. Homer Bailey I expected that. Rich Hill well he will be 41. I would get you pitching from Maeda with that contract.

 

Oh, well my team has young pitching with arm surgeries every year. Keep bringing up more. I'm surprised Berrios isn't hurt ever in this era.

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Questions for the off-season:

 

1.  Can Sano be salvaged or is he done?

 

 

I don't care too much either way. I'm just tired of watching him strike out. It's not fun

 

I also think it's time to end the Polanco at SS experiment. He doesn't hit well enough to cover his bad defense. Bring up Lewis, Arraez at 2nd. Polanco will be a serviceable utility man.

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Twins Daily Contributor
Concur. We will have plenty of time to discuss in the coming months, but I think we will need to clear out the gluttonous amount of LH hitting corner OF. Perhaps 1 or 2 veterans are included in that purge.

Eddie is probably as good as gone. If they believe Kirilloff could start today, they think he can start on opening day next season and Eddie is the odd man out there.

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I blows me away that it took them all year, until this last game to take a look at Kirilloff (one r, two Ls, two fs, please, it's not that hard). There were countless opportunities.

 

Of the 18 losses, the Chump Twins were had the lead in 11/18.

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Something I am starting to wonder - if the heavy use of analytics and lack of "going with the gut" is something like Moneyball - fine for the regular season, but not so great for the postseason.  Yes, it's fine to pull starters pitching like Maeda and Berrios in June and July but in this situation, don't you want to keep with a good thing?  I am not talking of doing a Grady Little here, but don't be scared of that third time through the lineup either just because the computer says so.  The only team that has used analytics heavily and won is the Astros, and they needed help to do so.  Look at the Nationals last year, the Royals in 2015 (gee, small ball worked for them).  Even the Cubs in 2016 didn't rely completely on spreadsheets like the current Twins do. 

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Something I am starting to wonder - if the heavy use of analytics and lack of "going with the gut" is something like Moneyball - fine for the regular season, but not so great for the postseason.  Yes, it's fine to pull starters pitching like Maeda and Berrios in June and July but in this situation, don't you want to keep with a good thing?  I am not talking of doing a Grady Little here, but don't be scared of that third time through the lineup either just because the computer says so.  The only team that has used analytics heavily and won is the Astros, and they needed help to do so.  Look at the Nationals last year, the Royals in 2015 (gee, small ball worked for them).  Even the Cubs in 2016 didn't rely completely on spreadsheets like the current Twins do. 

Astros pulled their starters early just like us and swept us on our home field. Yankees pulled their starters early in the 2019 ALDS and swept us. The Nationals didn't pull Scherzer and Strasburg early in 2019, and the Astros/Yankees haven't pulled Cole, but those are $200-300 million pitchers.

 

This isn't even about what philosophy best wins championships -- we can't even win a single game. Gardy had no love for spreadsheets but got us started on playoff losing streaks; meanwhile, the more-Moneyball-than-Moneyball Rays went to the WS back in 2008, swept their opponent this week (pulling their SP at 80-some pitches), and have never been swept in a postseason series. Even the Moneyball-originating Athletics -- while failing to win playoff rounds thus far (aside from sweeping us) -- generally have no trouble winning an occasional playoff game: Oakland has played 9 playoff series in the 21st century, and only been swept once. The 21st century Braves, losers of 9 consecutive playoff series, have never been swept in that streak.

 

Besides, what does pulling your starters and inning or two early have to do with a team batting line of .109/.246/.145 (.392 OPS)?

 

I'm not sure there is any simple explanation, unfortunately.

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Moneyball sabermetrics is not just pulling the pitcher before the 3rd time through. It's shifting, matchups and pitch selection using statistical tendencies. It doesn't always lend itself to playoff style, score anyway you can type of baseball. They should not have had a shift on with 2 strikes to tucker, especially after he tried to beat it first AB. Berrios deserved better there. Ultimately it didn't matter, because this team can't win without hitting HRs

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Moneyball sabermetrics is not just pulling the pitcher before the 3rd time through. It's shifting, matchups and pitch selection using statistical tendencies. It doesn't always lend itself to playoff style, score anyway you can type of baseball. They should not have had a shift on with 2 strikes to tucker, especially after he tried to beat it first AB. Berrios deserved better there. Ultimately it didn't matter, because this team can't win without hitting HRs

This sounds less like the Twins should eschew shifting, matchups, and pitch selection on defense, and more like the Twins need to find ways to beat those things on offense.

 

I doubt the Astros eschewed those things on defense, although they looked a little different due to their personnel (they have a worse/shallower pen, hence the piggybacking starters).

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I’m not up on the prospects...do they twins have enough legitimate prospects currently in the system whom they could have contribute soon?

They have some hitters who are close to ready. Kiriloff and Larnach in the OF, Rooker ideally as a 1B, Blankenhorn as a utility guy. Jeffers looks ready. Lewis needs to prove he can hit, but if he takes a step forward in 2021 he will be close.

 

The pitching prospects seem to be a bit further off.

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