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Game Recap: Athletics 13, Twins 12


Twins Daily Contributor

If it’s not one thing, it’s the other. The bats finally caught fire for the Twins but Kenta Maeda had a nightmare start and Alexander Colomé blew the lead ... twice! Read more about the game in tonight’s recap.Box Score

Maeda: 3 IP, 8 H, 7 ER, 0 BB, 1 K

Home Runs: Donaldson (1), Cruz 2 (6), Buxton (6)

Bottom 3 WPA: Colomé -.957, Maeda -.651, Astudillo -.179

Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs):

Download attachment: chart.png

 

Kenta Maeda has rough outing

 

After a career year in 2020 (well career couple of months) Kenta Maeda has not been on form to start his 2021 campaign, with today’s start being one of the worst of his career. While control was not an issue for Maeda in terms of allowing walks, it was a massive issue within the strike zone, as he left a lot of hittable pitches in the middle of the zone and the Athletics did not miss. As Twins Daily writer Matthew Taylor pointed out, this issue was particularly apparent with his slider.

 

 

Before his day was done, Maeda allowed seven earned runs on eight hits, three of which were home runs (2 by Matt Olson and 1 by Seth Brown) in just three innings pitched. This start brought Maeda’s season ERA up to an ugly 6.11.

 

Josh Donaldson stays hot

 

While the Twins offense has been struggling to get anything going over the past 10 games or so, Josh Donaldson has been virtually the lone spark during that stretch. That spark continued in Wednesday afternoon’s ballgame. In the top of the first, Donaldson got ahold of a 98 MPH fastball, giving the Twins their first run since last week Friday.

 

 

He followed that up with an RBI single in his second at-bat, following a Luis Arraez leadoff ground-rule double. He added a leadoff single in the 8th but was left stranded on the bases.

 

Nelson Cruz blasts two home runs

 

It wasn’t only Josh Donaldson who provided the power for the Twins in this game, as Nelson Cruz blasted a couple of long balls of his own. Cruz’s first home run was a two-run shot in the third that gave the Twins a 4-3 lead.

 

 

He followed that up in his next at-bat, this time it was leading off the fifth to cut into the A’s three-run lead. After both home runs, it was clear that Cruz was dealing with some pain in his lower half, as he rounded the bases gingerly and at an exceptionally slow pace.

 

 

Jorge Polanco’s four-hit game

 

One of the major focal points for the Twins offensive struggles to start the season has been Jorge Polanco’s difficulties in the top of the order. That was not the case today, as Polanco sprayed the ball around the ballpark, picking up four singles for his efforts.

 

Polanco’s single in the fifth helped setup one of three different three-run innings for the Twins in the ballgame, in which he would come around to score to tie the game at seven runs apiece. He had another big single in the sixth, this time with two outs bringing Josh Donaldson around to score. Polanco then stole second base, and scored on a Willians Astudillo single, giving the Twins a 10-7 lead.

 

Taylor Rogers gets extended work

 

Coming into today’s ballgame, Taylor Rogers had five days of rest since his last appearance. Rocco Baldelli took full advantage of this rest and let arguably his best reliever get the Twins through the later innings. Rogers came in with two outs in the sixth, with runners on second and third and the Twins leading by three. Rogers was not able to get out of the jam, as he gave up a double to Jed Lowrie, cutting the Twins lead to one. He was able to escape the inning without allowing any further damage thanks to this highlight reel catch from Byron Buxton.

 

 

Rogers stayed in the game not just for another inning, but two more shutout innings of work. He gave up a leadoff single in the seventh, but that was quickly erased with a double play. He then retired the last four batters he faced, including striking out the side in the eighth.

 

Alex Colome blows another save

 

It has been anything but a good start to his Twins tenure for Alex Colome. Today’s game was no different, as Colome entered the game with a one run lead in the bottom of the ninth. Colome then proceeded to hit the first batter he faced. He then got Jed Lowrie to fly out to left, before giving up a single to Matt Olson, and suddenly the A’s had first and third with only one out. Matt Chapman nearly ended the game with a walk off home run, but the ball narrowly missed the foul pole down the right field line. Chapman would latter bring the tying run home on a sac-fly.

 

Byron Buxton’s extra innings blast

 

The inning started with Travis Blankenhorn pinch running for Josh Donaldson at second. While this move was a moot point in the top of the 10th, it played a big part in what ultimately happened in the bottom of the inning. After the Twins failed to score an extra inning run in any of their first three chances, Byron Buxton decided he had enough of that and unleashed the frustrations the Twins and many Twins fans were feeling on this baseball.

 

 

Twins implode in the bottom of the 10th

 

Any frustrations that Buxton may have taken out in the top of the tenth, were reinstated after what was maybe the worst inning of Twins baseball, I think I have ever watched. For starters, Rocco Baldelli let Alex Colome in to pitch after already seeing him implode once today.

 

The inning actually started out great, as he got Stephen Piscotty to fly out to center, and struck out Sean Murphy for two quick outs. Colome then procced to give up back-to-back walks to load the bases before all hell broke loose. With two outs, and the bases loaded, Mark Canha hit this weak groundball to Travis Blankenhorn (who pinch ran for Donaldson earlier in the inning).

 

 

Now the A’s are down just one run, with the bases still loaded and two outs. If Colome can get Ramon Laureano he could still close it down. However, after a long at-bat where Laureano fouled off five straight pitches, he finally put the ball in play for what should have been a routine groundout to third to end the game, but with the Twins this season nothing is routine, except ripping their fans hearts out.

 

 

Oh, the joys of being a Minnesota sports fan.

 

Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet

Click here to see the bullpen usage over the past five days (link opens a Google Sheet).

 

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Just watched the video.....those were routine ground balls.

 

I'm not sure it is fair to say Colome blew the second lead.....

Well, except for blowing the lead TWICE, and walking the 8 and 9 hitters, and not being able to K anyone.

 

But this is mostly on Rocco.

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Well, except for blowing the lead TWICE, and walking the 8 and 9 hitters, and not being able to K anyone.

But this is mostly on Rocco.

 

Rocco can only put out the RPs he's given......and, Colome got two routine ground balls. He did his job (not well, but it should have been well enough).

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Well, except for blowing the lead TWICE, and walking the 8 and 9 hitters, and not being able to K anyone.

But this is mostly on Rocco.

 

Field a routine groundball and the Twins win the game.  Rocco didn't play a good game, but man the players need some accountability.  

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I usually have quite a few thoughts after the game. I’m at a loss of words after this one. This team is playing the worst ive seen under Rocco. The starters can’t go deep, the bullpen can’t protect anything, and the hitters have been mostly bad. Of course they were good today, but combined with the defense and bullpen, can’t win a game off of 12 runs of support. Roccos decision to take Donaldson out was dumb at the time, and even dumber now, but wasn’t even the worst choice of the day. He let colome throw 2!! Less pitches than kenta. I’ll finish on a bright note..buxton is good, and the middle of the lineup looked like we expect. We MUST win the series against Pittsburgh. I know it’s April, but it is a must.

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Will be interested to hear Rocco's quotes about this one. Is he going to laud his players with praise? Talk about how his bullpen did a great job and had a few unlucky bounces? Talk about how the A's are a great team and wow how fun it was to be in this dogfight?

 

I'd be refreshing to hear him just finally lose his apples and tell it like it is for once.

 

For what it's worth, I like Rocco overall as a manager. I'm just an extremely irritated Twins fan.

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I wonder if batting practice and infield practice will become mandatory as opposed to voluntary as it is now. Very frustrated at the moment. I've watched every inning of every game. Rock has to stop overthinking subs, ie..blankenhorn for Josh, and many others. Maybe is Rocco informed practice and teamwork? Put down the data and actually watch the game. Alot of bad to see, with easy fixes.

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I don’t know what Baldelli or any manager could possibly say to a Major League player that would get him to throw strikes or field a routine ground ball. The players have to perform. It’s as simple as that.

Absolutely. And that is why it makes it so astounding that he took the performing 3rd baseman out of the game in extras, the one we paid so much for, exactly for the big moments and the big games, the one who is fianally able to play and be there, when you need the defense the most, especially with a runner on second. Absolutely. They need to perform. They need to be still in the game and not pulled, to perform.

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I'm interested to see the WPA for this game. So many players screwed up so many times in this one, who should receive the blame?!

 

As for the bullpen... Wes worked some magic in 2019 and 2020 (more second half of 2019) and got strong performances from some older/middling/broken down relievers like Duffey, Harper, Littell, Romo, Stashak, Thielbar, Wisler, and Clippard. Add two very good homegrown relievers in Rogers and May, and we've had above average bullpens. I think Wes and the rest of the pitching staff deserve a ton of credit for this group's overachievement.

 

However, the wheels are coming off the wagon now. Rogers is consistently being hung down the heart of the plate and it's no longer "bad luck", Colome is an unmitigated disaster despite having a strong track record, Robles is wild but was abysmal last year, Duffey's velo is down, Alcala still needs development time, and Stashak got shelled and demoted. Wes & Co. should be given time to work on a solution. Maybe it will require axing some arms like they did in 2019 when they cast off Parker, Magill, and Morin in the stretch of a week. Perhaps it will require calling up some rookies to see if they can help the pen. But the fixes need to start coming now or the 2021 season will be lost.

 

I wonder if the Addison Reed and Sam Dyson moves turned the FO off to big reliever moves. Not to mention that they almost signed Craig Kimbrel, which would have also been a disaster. I'd really wish they'd make some trades to bolster their pitching depth.

 

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My short list of worst regular season losses

 

2009 @ Oakland, blew 12-2 lead

2002 @ Yankees, walkoff grand slam by giambi down by 3

1984 @ Indians, blew ten run lead with playoffs on the line

 

honorable mention, the 2019 loss to the Yankees where Aaron hicks made that wild catch

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