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SEA 4, MIN 3: Another Loss in Extra Innings


The Mariners scratched across runs in the eighth and 10th innings Saturday to hand the Twins their third loss of the season, all three of which have come in extra innings. Read more about the game in today’s recap.Box Score

Pineda: 6.0 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 6 K

Home Runs: Cruz (4)

Bottom 3 WPA: Polanco -.331, Colomé -.181, Garver -.177

Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs):

Download attachment: chart.png

 

Twins, Mariners in Lockstep All Afternoon

Today’s game seemed predestined for an extra innings crapshoot all day, as the Twins and Mariners matched blows all game long.

 

Seattle struck first in the top of the third with two homers off two Michael Pineda mistakes. Big Mike, who had excellent command for most of his start, gave Taylor Trammell his first big league homer in the form of a center-cut fastball, and left Mitch Haniger a hanging slider for a big fly of his own later in the inning.

 

The Twins answered in the bottom of the inning, though, when Nelson Cruz bopped his fourth home run of the year, scoring himself and new fan-favorite Kyle Garlick.

And, though it didn’t lead to a run, Byron Buxton’s at-bat in the third reminded us of the unique weapon that he is, even when he isn’t mashing the ball:

Both Pineda and Seattle starter Yusei Kikuchi exited after six strong innings and the game became a bullpen battle, tied 2-2. Each pitcher allowed two earned runs and struck out six, though Pineda was more efficient with 75 pitches thrown, to Kikuchi’s 94.

 

The teams matched runs again in the eighth inning. A Kyle Seager RBI single off Alexander Colomé gave Seattle their second lead of the day, but a wild outing from reliever Rafael Montero (2 BB, HBP, wild pitch) allowed the Twins to tie it up again, when Jake Cave (pinch running for Cruz) scored on a wild pitch.

 

Extra Inning Heartbreak

That brings us to the 10th inning (sigh). Taylor Rogers started the inning on the bump for the Twins after pitching a hyper-efficient ninth, but mishandled a Ben Bishop bunt, allowing Bishop to reach safely and Trammell, Seattle’s free runner, to advance to third. Two batters later, Mitch Haniger hit a sacrifice fly to left and the Mariners took their decisive 4-3 lead.

 

In the bottom of the inning, with Polanco on second as the Twins free runner, Kenyan Middleton shut the Twins down to save the game for the Mariners. Astudillo (pinch-hitting for Garlick) and Cave popped out meekly in the infield and Buxton grounded out to shortstop. Rocco Baldelli opted not to bunt, likely operating under the assumption that a hit to the outfield would score Polanco. Unfortunately, that hit never came.

 

Baseball’s new extra inning rule has been a hot topic among Twins fans, and that debate will likely rage on further, as only a mishandled bunt and a sac fly cost the Twins this game

 

Buxton’s Speed Kills

The Twins’ toolsy center fielder has already caught some MVP buzz because of his massive slugging numbers to start the season, but today, he reminded us what being the fastest man in baseball can mean for his team. As mentioned before, Buxton beat out and infield single and forced a misthrow because of his speed, meaning he ended up at second on a play where most guys are walking back to the dugout.

 

Then, in the eighth inning, he got from first to second on a ground ball to the left side so fast that Seattle third baseman Kyle Seager didn’t even think about turning an inning ending double play, opting instead for the safe out at first. Buxton’s speed kept the inning alive, and Cave scored on a wild pitch the very next at-bat.

 

Nelson Cruz Accepts Silver Slugger Award

The Twins’ ageless designated hitter was honored before this afternoon’s game as the 2020 Silver Slugger Award winner for the DH position. Cruz slashed .303/.397/.595 with 16 homers to be crowned as the hardest-hitting DH for 2020, and is off to an even better start to his 2021 campaign. After a homer, a single, and a walk today, Cruz is hitting .458/.481/1.000 with four homers and nine runs driven in.

Postgame Interview

 

Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet

Download attachment: Bullpen10.png

 

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Burn the extra inning rule to the ground.

 

But Chief is right. The bullpen has not looked like a championship quality bullpen. Colome right now reminds me of Romo, and that isn’t a good thing. I mean I can’t blame Rogers, because that run he gave up was an unER. But what was with the 0-2 pitch? 86mph?

 

Where was the clutch hitting? Sano? You couldn’t knock ONE guy in? You watched an easily hit table pitch go by and walked back to the dugout? I want to see Rocco hold his players accountable for shtick like that. Also in extras, you can’t knock the runner on 2nd in in THREE tries?

 

I mean I’m not going to give up on Colome yet but I’m worried he may be cooked. Not worried about Rogers. Worried about this team’s ability to “get it done” when things NEED to be done.

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The good news is that Pineda looks like historical average Pineda. Pitches about half a game, gives up about 2 runs. 

 

The bad news is that too many Twins looked lame at the plate. However, I suspect a few of them are on the verge of busting loose. When redemption come town, somebody gonna pay.

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Bullpen is going to be a problem. I said it before season even started. With the extra inning rule this season, bullpen has to be stronger than ever. Instead FO let 4 quality bullpen arms walk and only obtained 2. Why do Twins waste money on Dobnak?

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Early observations: Twins don't know how to use the extra inning gimmick. Batting Astudillo in that spot, despite his 6-12 was wrong. You needed a guy to simply advance the runner, not swing from the heels and hit pop flies.

And Sano is hopeless. he strilkes out 50% of the time and kills rallies doing it. Its not 'early' either. This is his career pattern. He needs to sit for a few games and work with the coaches. He can't go up there swinging for the Mississippi every AB.

 

Rogers? Yeah, when we need the big pitch we aren't getting it anymore. Started mid-season last year. Let's see if he can turn it around.

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I don't agree with the gripes over the bullpen. Sure I don't trust Rogers late in important games, but all in all the BP has been pretty solid so far this season. All loses have been because of the stupid extra inning rule.

 

The first loss was mostly a blown 3 run lead by the multiple blunders of Colome in the 9th. And when the Brewers and the Tigers and the Mariners did score in the 10th..... we had no one in the bullpen that came and and set them down 1-2-3. Not one out of 3 times.

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Batting Garver 5th behind Buxton vs. lefties isn't going to work.

 

Twins are one right-handed bat away from putting together a solid middle of the order, wonder where we can find one of those? Oh yeah, Josh Donaldson is supposed to be that guy.

 

Blame Tortuga, blame Polanco, blame anyone you want: but Donaldson's absence is costing the Twins big time. With him it's almost impossible to think this team isn't at least 7-1.

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Complaining about Sano is silly because any day now he'll have a 2 HR game and keep doing that for a month.

 

The guy I'm actually worried about is Polanco, who hasn't been right at the plate in a year and a half. Still does not look that good. He's not hitting the ball hard at all.

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Blame Tortuga, blame Polanco, blame anyone you want: but Donaldson's absence is costing the Twins big time. With him it's almost impossible to think this team isn't at least 7-1.

 

I just don't see how Astudillo can succeed in the majors swinging at every pitch. It's never going to happen, outside of the first week of the season before people have a good book on him. 

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The bullpen is going to give up some runs. Had Rogers been able to pull the ball out of his glove cleanly after fielding that bunt the Mariners wouldn't have scored. Not too concerned over stuff like that. If they start consistently getting shelled or can't find the zone for an extended period, then I'll worry.

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Instead FO let 4 quality bullpen arms walk and only obtained 2.

 

May is really the only arm I miss. Nobody is mourning the loss of Romo. Nobody. Did you see that guy last year? How so obviously cooked he was? Wisler might be a one shot wonder, infact, he sure looks like one now. Clippard...would've been nice to bring back, but he isn't exactly young either.

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It looks like Colome, Rogers, Duffey and Robles have combined to give up exactly one extra-base hit so far. Yeah, not worried.

The bullpen has lost all three games the Twins have dropped.

 

Getting it done 2/3rds of the time isn't a good bullpen.

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The bullpen has lost all three games the Twins have dropped.

Getting it done 2/3rds of the time isn't a good bullpen.

 

You do make a good point, BUT...

 

Let's look at a thing called run expectancy: https://library.fangraphs.com/misc/re24/

 

If you look at the table, you'll see the spot with a runner on 2nd with 0 outs. The number is 1.068. This means that more often than not, at least one run scores. So, what's a bigger problem: The offense putting up a goose egg 3/3 times in that scenario, or the bullpen giving up one run 3/3 times in that scenario?

 

I still don't think this is a championship bullpen but saying these 3 losses have been SOLELY the bullpen's fault is inaccurate.

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Am I happy the Twins have lost 3 games, all in extra innings, that they could have and should have won? Nope! Nada! Nyet! Am I worried about the pen at this point? No. Not yet.

 

Nor am I worried about a slow start for Sano or a healthy Polanco, who had a fine ST. I'm just going to panic or be worried after 8 games.

 

A couple brain farts and a mis-handled ball and 2 of those 3 loses likely don't happen. Likewise, just another clutch hit or two from an offense that has generally looked solid so far and those games don't go to extra innings.

 

If the pen was actually imploding, those 3 close games don't even go to extra innings. Think about that perspective for a moment.

 

I think Robles could be a sneaky good signing. Thus far he's looked like such. Colome has been back and forth so far and I admit some frustration and concern, but I am not reaching for a panic button on him at this point. Same for Rogers who has also been 50/50 thus far. Sorry to play the old tune, but such a SSS, despite the frustration of the losses, does not call for decision making or desperation.

 

Despite his inconsistency at times, my "worry" was losing May, not Clippard, Wisler or Romo. Despite some cold spells that made you want to throw your hands up, May could bring pure heat and SO potential you just need sometimes. Alcala may be that guy, but I don't think he's ready for that role just yet. But I don't think the pen is worse or less talented with the elder Romo and Clippard, or 1yr flash Wisler gone and replaced by Robles, Colome and Alcala. Someone to take that May role does give my pause at the moment.

 

Rogers and Colome settle down over the next week or so, this becomes a non-issue and we won't even remember talking about it. Now, that doesn't happen, THEN we can talk about real issues with the pen. Until then, 3 close losses but the pen not exploding/imploding, looking like an old Irwin Allen disaster movie, after only 8 games is frustration and nothing more.

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Why no Robles today and using Colome after using him two innings two days ago?  I guess I didn't understand that one.  I can see now why Chicago moved on from him.  While he might give up weak contact you never know what is going happen.  When you K someone you don't have that problem.

 

I get it is baseball and you are going to lose some days.  There are few too many holes in lineup right now.  A couple of clutch hits and things would have been different.  Have to give it time but that is tough especially at home.

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Why no Robles today and using Colome after using him two innings two days ago?  I guess I didn't understand that one.  I can see now why Chicago moved on from him.  While he might give up weak contact you never know what is going happen.  When you K someone you don't have that problem.

 

I get it is baseball and you are going to lose some days.  There are few too many holes in lineup right now.  A couple of clutch hits and things would have been different.  Have to give it time but that is tough especially at home.

 

Can't disagree with a thing you said, mostly because I think I said the same things, lol. There are a lot of ways to get outs. While SO the side is exciting, it's not so great if it happens after a walk and a 2 run HR. But a baserunner allowed with a couple groundouts and a fly ball can be even more effective. I don't know. I miss May. But if Colome pitches as he did the past 5 seasons, aren't we better off with fewer K's but as good or better results?

 

To me, jury is out and still too early to make any decisions. Especially with Robles looking solid and the potential of Alcala. A few weeks from now, this pen could be outstanding.

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The consensus that the bullpen doesn't appear to be championship quality is reasonable to this point (8 games into a 162 game season.) 

 

A silver lining is typically there are a number of quality. bullpen arms available via trade before and at the trade deadline. Twins have enough trade assets to make the moves if this very early bullpen trend becomes a thing.

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