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Game Recap: Pirates 6, Twins 2


Despite a solid outing from Matt Shoemaker, the Twins were unable to wake up the bats in a Sunday afternoon rubber match against Pittsburgh. Read more about the game in today's recap.Box Score: Pirates 6, Twins 2

Matt Shoemaker: 5.1 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2 K

Twins Home Runs: Nelson Cruz (7)

Pirates Home Runs: Gregory Polanco (3)

Bottom 3 WPA: Kirilloff -.160, Stashak -.149, Cruz, Garver -.106

Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs):

Download attachment: chart.png

 

After his worst outing of the season against the A’s, Matt Shoemaker was stellar on Sunday against the Pirates. Despite some unlucky hiccups in the first, Shoemaker gave the Twins a quality outing, surrendering only three hits following the first inning.

 

Yet Sunday's game haunted the Twins with woes that have been no stranger to the club in the past few weeks. Quiet bats and a shaky bullpen.

 

Bloop, There It Is

Looking to rebound from a rocky start in Oakland, Shoemaker used his split-finger fastball and four-seamer to nail the zone. The only problem? Pirate hitters Adam Fraizer, Phillip Evans, and Bryan Reynolds were all able to get wood on the ball, resulting in three hits and a run to kick off the game. Colin Moran followed with a sac-fly to CF to give the Bucs a 2-0 lead.

 

A 2-0 lead after the top of the first? Sounds like a bad start. Wrong. Shoemaker did an excellent job hitting the corner of the zone and was frankly just unlucky. Evans and Reynolds had exit velocities of 79 MPH and 74 MPH on their bloop hits, proving that Shoemaker was hitting his spots and that baseball is sometimes just a game of luck.

 

The Twins responded with their own hitting in the bottom of the inning, relying not on bloopers, but quality opposite-field hitting. Luis Arraez continued his rock-solid 2021 campaign by slashing a single to left field to kick off the game. Josh Donaldson followed up by slicing a single to right field on a 1-2 count, pushing Arraez to third.

 

Byron Buxton followed suit by roping a single to left, scoring Arraez to cut the lead in half. The single bumped Buxton’s slash line to .404/.446/.865, numbers that easily represent Buxton’s best start in his seven-year career.

 

Bullpen Woes

Despite Shoemaker’s solid start, the Twins bullpen was unable to keep the train on the tracks. After being recalled from the alternate site earlier in the day, RHP Cody Stashak had a rocky outing. Replacing Shoemaker in the sixth, Stashak recorded one out while facing five batters, giving up three runs on three hits.

 

LHP Caleb Thielbar returned from the COVID IL on Sunday and replaced Stashak in the seventh with runners on the corners. Despite striking out two, Thielbar gave up a single to Adam Fraizer and a double to Bryan Reynolds, bringing in two more runs for Pittsburgh (both credited to Stashak).

 

Jorge Alcala followed Thielbar, pitching the eighth and ninth innings. After giving up an eighth inning HR to Gregory Polanco, Alcala was perfect, striking out five.

 

Water is Wet, Bats are Dry

Given the potential of the Twins offense, surpassing six runs in a game doesn’t seem difficult. Yet as we’ve seen, the Twins offense has underperformed consistently and Sunday’s game was no exception.

 

The entire offense posted a meager six hits on Sunday against a lineup that featured a starter with an ERA of 3.86 who registered under 50 strikes (81 total pitches) in the rubber match. Not great.

 

And while an eighth inning Nelson Cruz homer (his seventh of the year) and two-hit showing from Luis Arraez demonstrate positives, the Twins will need to find some sort of consistency at the plate if they want to rid their losing ways.

 

Postgame Interview

 

Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet

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

 

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Unbelievable. Unbelievable. You lose a series, at home, to one of the worst teams in the league. What can I say, everything about this team looks horrible! The offense, holy sh&t! Is this really one of the worst offenses in baseball? It certainly looks like it. The bullpen, holy sh&t! The defense, I thought was supposed to be one of the best in baseball?

 

The rotation is the ONLY positive so far. And even that hasn't been perfect.

 

They sure look like they don't give a sh&t. If anything it looks like they care about their paychecks and nothing more. Were we supposed to be pushing for the WS this year? Or are we headed for a rebuild? Somebody please tell me the answer...

 

 

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Is Stashak healthy? Seems like his velocity is down and he probably doesn't have much margin for error. Was he sent down the first time due to ineffectiveness? He doesn't look the same.

 

Yeah he was not fooling anyone out there today. The bullpen has been very disappointing this season so far.

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Sigh. At this point I really don't know what to say. We just faced one of, if not the, worst rosters in the league and looked absolutely lifeless. I don't know what it's going to take for this team to wake up, but this is not a good place to be as a fan or as a team. I know there are some pieces out, but they weren't doing anything prior to being out anyway, besides Simmons. He should help shore up the defense, but he isn't reliable as a bat which is the main issue. Shoemaker pitched really well and Thielbar looked okay. Alcala continues to have trouble with the longball, but he got a lot of swings and misses. The best thing about this upcoming trip to Cleveland is that we should get Simmons and maybe Kepler back healthy, and we don't have to face Shane Bieber. This upcoming series is a MUST win. It's getting late early.

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A's started 1-7 and then reeled off 14 wins. Bucs wre 1-6 and now they are .500. Twins started 5-2 and have disappeared, losing 11 of 13. Bucs success...the bullpen stepped up. A's success...everyone stepped up.

Twins failure? Just about everyone has stepped down. Starting pitching has been good. 'D; not good except for buxton; bullpen terrible; offense awful. Today Garver and Cave accounted for 6 k's in their 7 AB's.

The team is a mess right now. Can they do what the A's and Buc's have done? Perhaps. But the numbers keep getting uglier and uglier. This is the worst funk the Twins have endured in several seasons.

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15 hits in 3 games against a bunch of pitchers who all seemed to start the series with ERAs of 8.00+.  Relievers not named Duffey and Rodgers have been....um, not good.  I see the word "listless" used a lot in here.  This team has become a direct reflection of their manager.  I have a novel idea....how about taking BP and infield practice everyday and making the players EARN those days of R&R that Rocco values so much.  Seems like in the past, teams would do that AND guys would play 150 games.  Now, we're so worried about the R&R and we have one guy who has played every day....and it's Jake freaking Cave!

 

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Right now, only Donaldson, Buxton, Arraez and Cruz look like the they have a clue. Not sure what else they can do about that. Sano needs to be healthy. Kiriloff doesn't look good. I'm ready to give up on Polanco and Garver. Gad, what a crappy start to the season.

 

I don't like the idea that starters should aim for 5-6 innings and be happy about it. I certainly don't want to turn into Bert but good grief. This bullpen is bad and we're relying on them way too much. Rocco needs to let our starters go deeper.

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I’m reaching the point where I’m done buying the hype on the highly touted FO and manager.

 

This doesn’t look like a bad luck or hindsight issue. The bullpen is clearly awful. Gambling that this crew could keep it together was a massive error in judgement. The manager is making awful decisions night after night. The club is lifeless.

 

It’s possible they turn it around. I’m fairly confident the offense will. But, I just don’t see them winning at a high level with this bullpen. They’re going to get shelled all year.

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It’s possible they turn it around. I’m fairly confident the offense will. But, I just don’t see them winning at a high level with this bullpen. They’re going to get shelled all year.

 

I don’t know about “all year,” but until they make some changes, yeah.

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Starting pitching: thought it would be pretty good; it is

Bullpen: thought it would be average; it isn't

Defense: thought it would be above average; still optimistic (Simmons means a ton)

Offense: was concerned off 2020 regression and bad spring; now more concerned

 

Between the bullpen and the nature of this lineup (even when fully healthy)...this team HAS to hit home runs in bunches to get to the playoffs. Have two guys overperforming (Buxton, Cruz) in that regard...and the team still ranks near the bottom of the league in a stat that they absolutely MUST be at/near the top. Yikes!

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I am ready for some new arms in BP and maybe a starter, 

BP is the #1 priority in July. No question. And I’d take another starter. I’d also take an offensive infusion. (Preferably a catcher or 1B).

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Just watched Stashak's 7th inning. Yeah, he's trying (and failing) to hide some kind of pain in his throwing arm. He can't throw the heat because it takes max effort, so he's trying to ease a get-me-over slider for strikes. Problem is, even the slider takes max effort to get that hard break. A soft-breaking slider tends to go the other way at high speed.

 

Sorry kid, careful mechanics won't fix a tear in the rotator cuff, or a sprung elbow. Twins need to get this guy an MRI to see what's hurt.

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BP is the #1 priority in July. No question. And I’d take another starter. I’d also take an offensive infusion. (Preferably a catcher or 1B).

 

I mean Shane Greene and Matt Adams are still out there.

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Unbelievable. Unbelievable. You lose a series, at home, to one of the worst teams in the league. What can I say, everything about this team looks horrible! The offense, holy sh&t! Is this really one of the worst offenses in baseball? It certainly looks like it. The bullpen, holy sh&t! The defense, I thought was supposed to be one of the best in baseball?

 

The rotation is the ONLY positive so far. And even that hasn't been perfect.

 

They sure look like they don't give a sh&t. If anything it looks like they care about their paychecks and nothing more. Were we supposed to be pushing for the WS this year? Or are we headed for a rebuild? Somebody please tell me the answer...

Are they taking on the personality of the manager. Laid back and no emotion and fire. Really miss Eddie. Really unwatchable.

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I haven't looked it up so I could well be off base, but I imagine almost all teams that finish at or above .500 endure 20 game stretches with 11-12-13 losses. The fact that the Twins hit such a stretch in the first 20 magnifies things a bit and understandably increase the toxicity among fans/critics alike. 

 

The Twins have rarely had their preferred roster available, a handful of players are off to slow starts with the bats (Sano, Garver, Polanco, Cave, Jeffers) and the BP has failed to protect some leads. Adding all that up, while concerning doesn't mean the team will struggle all season...

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Rocco expounding on no night games, it being cold, not having baseball routine....ugh.

 

I'd like to give him a gentle reminder that the teams they played against also played at the same time of day and in the same weather.

 

The other teams are equally responsible for executing difficult COVID-19 strategies and would also pay the same consequences for poor execution.

 

Great leaders are at their best during adversity....not rationalizing about how good things will be when everything is juuuuuuust right.

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Rocco expounding on no night games, it being cold, not having baseball routine....ugh.

 

I'd like to give him a gentle reminder that the teams they played against also played at the same time of day and in the same weather.

 

The other teams are equally responsible for executing difficult COVID-19 strategies and would also pay the same consequences for poor execution.

 

Great leaders are at their best during adversity....not rationalizing about how good things will be when everything is juuuuuuust right.

Is there some law against taking on field BP and infield?

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