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MIN 15, DET 6: Cruz Leads Trouncing of Tigers


Nelson Cruz’s first start of 2021 was delayed due to the opening series being in an NL park, but the wait was worth it. Boomstick clobbered two home runs, one of them a grand slam, in the Twins 15-6 domination of Detroit Monday.Box Score

Shoemaker: 6.0 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 5 K

Home Runs: Cruz 2 (2)

Top 3 WPA: Cruz 184, Polanco .167, Shoemaker .135

Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs):

Download attachment: chart (1).png

 

The Minnesota Twins brought the lumber into Detroit Monday scoring 15 runs as they took on a number of Twins alumni in the first game of their second series of the season. Nelson Cruz led the way with his 37th career multi-home run game. The first a grand-slam and his second a solo rocket that measured in with an exit velocity of 116.6 mph.

 

 

Another Twin Exits Early

 

Until the offense exploded, it was another Twin player leaving a game early that stole the headlines. Already down Josh Donaldson and Byron Buxton, Luis Arraez was replaced by Willians Astudillo in the bottom of the second. Arraez had already been his usual spark plug self. He hit a single in the first inning and would come around to score. Then even after pulling up mid-at-bat with the issue that eventually forced Arraez from the game, he reached on a walk in the second.

 

We later learned that Arraez’ reason for leaving was similar (but also unrelated) to Buxton’s, upper GI discomfort.

 

 

Rough Defensive Day for Tigers’ Ramos

 

Speaking of that Arraez run, it came largely in part to events that happened around one of those Twins alumni, catcher Wilson Ramos. Starter José Ureña struggled with his command and his sinker sent Ramos into the dirt time after time. Arraez reached second on a pitch that got past Ramos and eventually scored after a throw from right-field also kicked past the catcher.

 

Shoemaker Dazzles

 

All the while, Matt Shoemaker made his Twins debut and added another great start to the teams short 2021 resume. The righty took a no-hitter into the 5th inning when he gave up his only run to Ramos on a solo shot over the left-field wall. Shoemaker would end his day after completing six innings and giving up three hits, no walks while striking out five Tiger batters on 92 pitches.

 

 

Bench Depth Flexed

 

While Cruz is clearly the MVP of the Twins game, Astudillo was right behind him. Even though La Tortuga didn’t get into the game until late he still notched three hits and drove in two runs. Kyle Garlick also got himself an RBI double in his first regular-season hit as a Twin. Even after maybe being looked over coming out of spring because of his defense, Brent Rooker turned in a spectacular catch in left-field while collecting his own RBI.

 

Postgame with Cruz

 

Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet

Download attachment: Screenshot 2021-04-05 at 4.35.56 PM.png

 

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Back to back blowouts. Offense lookin’ good. SP lookin’ good.

 

Concerned about the injuries. Losing Arraez is a big hit to the lineup. The Twins clearly benefit from the guy being in the lineup and 100%. Buxton should hopefully be back tomorrow.

 

Dobnak - I know it’s early, but he doesn’t even look like a pro-class pitcher from what we’ve seen from him these first two appearances. I’d say send him down and bring up maybe Balazovic?

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Back to back blowouts. Offense lookin’ good. SP lookin’ good.

Concerned about the injuries. Losing Arraez is a big hit to the lineup. The Twins clearly benefit from the guy being in the lineup and 100%. Buxton should hopefully be back tomorrow.

Dobnak - I know it’s early, but he doesn’t even look like a pro-class pitcher from what we’ve seen from him these first two appearances. I’d say send him down and bring up maybe Balazovic?

 

 

Send Cave down before Dobnak.  Cave hasn't looked good at all.  

Goodness ... really? Already saying to send someone down? We've had some good games, it's early. These guys deserve a little leeway 4 games into the season. Especially after two really good offensive games.

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Concerned about the injuries. Losing Arraez is a big hit to the lineup. The Twins clearly benefit from the guy being in the lineup and 100%. Buxton should hopefully be back tomorrow.

 

Neither Buxton nor Arraez are out due to injury. Illness is far different. Not to be a horrible person for wishing anyone ill, but I'm glad in both cases it's an illness vs an injury. That said ... I hope it doesn't turn into anything else.

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This lineups needs Cruz at DH. There was just going to be too much of a drop-off with rotating guys there compared to Cruz's recent track record. 

 

Simmons has looked great at the plate so far, no sign of rust from a short ST. Tortuga has been flexing some power lately. Rooker's ABs have been pretty bad, he had some chances to do damage and made some bad misses. I can see why he didn't make the initial roster. I imagine Garlick will be getting some starts soon.

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Well, he bullpen is rested, although I would've kept Dobnak to pair with Happ. You could push him today for the third inning because of the lead, but could've also used Thielbar in this no-pressure situation to get him into a game.

 

So Rocco likes players that can play a variety of positions, I sense.

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Some really good at bats today.  We got 11 walks and 14 hits so 25 men on base today which allowed us to score 15 runs.  It is nice when the opposing team doesn't throw strikes and our guys don't get themselves out swinging at pitches outside the zone.  I don't know who Detroit has pitching tomorrow but they should attack the zone or it will be another game like today.

 

I know Sano did not a get a hit but I was so happy to see him take 3 walks.  He wasn't getting himself out as much today.  That will pay off eventually and technically did today as he scored twice on those 3 walks. 

 

Simmons has been a tough out to this point and productive lower in the lineup.  He has been asset so far and with a good eye at the plate always seems to make pitchers work.

 

The turtle was big today and I love watching him play especially when he is hitting well but no one was better than Cruz today.

 

It is early and a SSS but if this is what we are going to get out of the Rooker\Cave platoon the FO is going to get killed for their Rosario decision.  Cave looked pitiful today and Rooker still helpless on breaking balls.  At least Rooker finally got a hit but I am having serious doubts about his ability to make contact with the baseball.  After watching Cave today I can't wait for Buxton to get back.  He can't get back soon enough.  Thankfully for Detroit they had two easy outs today or the final score would have been worse.

 

This Spring I had Dobnak ahead of Shoemaker and now it seems everything has flipped.  Randy was fine until the final out and then suddenly couldn't find the edges of the zone and had to throw meatballs to get strikes.  What happened to that slider?  At least he picked a good time to have a breakdown.  With a double digit lead it didn't matter what happened and he saved the pen for another day but there are some things to work on there. especially that put away pitch.

 

This was a fun game to watch and gives me encouragement that maybe the bats are not going to be as bad as I thought and the starting pitching better than I thought.  If the Twins keep playing like this it is going to be a very fun season.

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Caught a little of the game in the background at work today, (had to keep changing the game back because the boss kept golf on, lol), and during my lunch. Really liked what I saw, of course.

 

A couple comments:

 

1] Cruz, what a bum. Instead of taking a ball and waiting for a better pitch to try for a HR TRIO, he instead inside-outs a rocket double down the left field line. (Hehe) The guy is just amazing and early indicators are he is ready to defy age for another good/great season.

 

2] I never panicked about Kepler having a bad ST. He's done it before. He even spoke recently that be was "trying different stuff" in many of his AB. I really like him sliding down in the lineup and I think when all is said and done he's going to look like his 2019 self.

 

3] First start of the year and a big lead, I was happy Rocco let Shoemaker pitch the 6th and stretch himself out. It's one thing to protect your starters and believe in your pen, but it's also valuable to let your SP a full 6 when you can and save the bullpen as well.

 

4] I really would have liked Thielbar to get an IP today instead of giving Dobnak 3. Felt unnecessary to me and I don't believe Thielbar has pitched yet. As far as Dobnak goes, I wasn't able to watch the last 3 innings. But looks like he pitched 2 clean ones. Not the first guy to finish a HUGE BLOWOUT while allowing a few runs. Even for a professional, a competitor, sometimes the juice just isn't there with a 14 run lead and you're just getting your work in and mopping up. Sure I'm disappointed he didn't just put away everyone in the 9th, but I've seen this before over the years and not going to freak out.

 

5] Really glad Buxton and Arraez aren't hurt, simply ill. Personally, no disrespect to the Tigers at all, but I'd probably sit both tomorrow and have them in reserve roles. We have enough depth and a talented enough roster I'd rather see both Buxton and Arraez just have another day off to recover and get their strength back.

 

6] I missed Rooker's great catch. Wish there was a replay. Not trying to be dismissive of Garlik's effort to make the team or his ability, but as long as Rooker is here I want to see him play and not sit.

 

7] Send down Cave after FOUR GAMES? Not going to happen. He's earned more than a little leeway at this point. Now, if he's still struggling in a week, some re-set time could be in order.

 

8] Come on, you KNEW there was going to be as Astudillo comment, right? History has shown he can hit a little, and he's developed more pop/power since joining the Twins organization. While nothing more than average defensively...i actually think 3B might be his best spot...very few teams can toss the last man on the bench in to a game and he can still produce at least a little bit. Blankenhorn and perhaps Miranda may replace him in the next year or two, but I just don't know how anyone can't appreciate him as a last spot on the bench player.

 

I'm really excited, with the "lights turned on now", to see what Happ can bring tomorrow. I'm really hopeful for 5 solid IP.

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Cruz struck out and flied out in his last two at bats. Maybe his age is starting to show and he is wearing down in the later innings???

Or he just stopped trying in garbage time.

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Great offense. Cruz is ageless. Where are all those that didn't want to sign Cruz again, now? 

 

Really happy for Shoemaker to get a fine first outing.

 

Dobnak? I have been saying he was fools gold before he started to fail last year, so it doesn't surprise me at all that he can't match his ST when the games actually count. Good luck to him and us. I hope he doesn't cost us too many games this year. Same with Colome.

 

 

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Gaaaaa, Baddoo is monster zero for Detroit! Gaaaa! 

 

Dobbs had a hiccup. Chill, peebles!

 

But really, how impressive is it?.... I mean.... Dobnak was pitching....  :blush:

 

5 players the Twins gave up on in this Detroit lineup! (Not saying that they should have kept them, except for Ramos at the time). And they got 6 of the 8 Detroit hits today. 4 of them feasting on Dobnak in the 9th for 4 runs. With 2 outs! That is pretty weird.

 

 

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Concerned about the injuries. Losing Arraez is a big hit to the lineup. The Twins clearly benefit from the guy being in the lineup and 100%. Buxton should hopefully be back tomorrow.

 

An illness isn't really an injury. If you take the Twins at their word, neither Buxton or Arraez are likely to miss much playing time. 

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An illness isn't really an injury. If you take the Twins at their word, neither Buxton or Arraez are likely to miss much playing time. 

Concur. If they thought that, they'd have IL'd them and brought someone up. But, illness is a bit more difficult to predict ... always day by day.

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