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Byron Buxton had a career day as part of the Twins offensive explosion. After some offensive woes, the Twins gave us a glimpse of the 2019 Twins offense. The question is, will this game be the launchpad for the season, or is it just a random one game explosion?Box Score

Happ: 7 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 3 K

Home Runs: Buxton (8), Donaldson (2), Polanco (1), Astudillo (2), Garver 2 (4)

Top 3 WPA: Buxton .137, Polanco .095, Happ .089

Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs):

Download attachment: chart.png

The Twins home run derby

 

Entering Wednesday’s ballgame, the Twins lineup had produced just 10 first inning runs in 22 ballgames, which was tied for 21st in Major League Baseball. That trend of first inning futility did not carry over into this game, as the Twins had already scored four runs just four batters into the ballgame. It all got started with this Byron Buxton opposite field home run.

 

 

Josh Donaldson followed that up with a blast of his own in the very next at-bat. This one, however, was a no-doubter off the bat with an exit velocity of 106.3 MPH and carried 423 feet to left.

 

 

Then, after a Nelson Cruz walk, it was Jorge Polanco’s turn to join the home run bigrade. Like Donaldson’s home run, Polanco’s home run also left the bat at 106.3 MPH, but this one traveled 426 feet to left-center field, giving the Twins a quick four run lead.

 

 

The Twins early scoring did not stop in the first. In the top of the second, the Twins added a couple more runs to further extend their lead. Alex Kirilloff got things started with a one out single, and then advanced to second on a wild pitch during Byron Buxton’s at-bat that ended with a ground ball between second base and short, that turned into a double thanks to Buxton’s speed and hustle out of the box.

Unfortunately, Kirilloff was unable to score after he misread the groundball and went back to second, before advancing to third. That would be a moot point two batters later, when Nelson Cruz delivered this two-run single.

 

 

In the third, it was Willians Astudillo’s turn to join the party, after he hit the Twins fourth home run of the game.

 

 

Not to be left out, Mitch Garver went deep in the fifth, giving the Twins an 8 to 1 lead on their fifth home run of the ballgame.

 

 

A couple innings later, it was Garver again, this time a two-run shot to get the Twins

to double-digits on their sixth home run of the game.

 

J.A. Happ builds off great start last time out

 

After a gem of a start last Firday, where J.A. Happ didn’t give up a hit until the 8th inning, he came back out Wednesday and gave the Twins another strong outing, giving up just two runs across seven innings of work. He did give up a number of deep flyballs, but with the exception of a Amed Rosario home run, they all came up short as warning track flyballs.

 

A lot of Twins fans grumbled at the J.A. Happ signing when it happened this winter, but four starts in and it appears to be a great move for starting rotation depth. In total, Happ now has a 1.96 ERA in 23 innings of work and has yet to give up more than two runs in any of his starts.

 

Byron Buxton’s career day

 

Prior to today, Bryon Buxton had only ever had just one four-hit game, which came back in 2017 in Toronto when Buxton blasted three home runs on the way to a Twins 7-2 win. Today, Buxton recorded his first ever five-hit game, and came up just a triple shy of the cycle. We already mentioned the solo shot to leadoff the ballgame. On a couple of his hits later in the game, it was Buxton’s wheels, not his power that was on display.

 

 

 

When all was said and done, Buxton had collected 10 total bases along with a stolen base on his way to earning the YouTube Player of the Game honors. Can we just give Buxton the MVP award already?

 

Dobnak throws two shutout innings

 

Thanks to the offensive explosion, the Twins did not need to rely on the bullpen to close out the game late, something the Twins have been unable to do at all this year. Instead, it gave Rocco Baldelli the flexibility to turn to Randy Dobnak, who produced his best outing of the season, giving up just a single to go along with three strikeouts in two shutout innings of work.

 

Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet

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

 

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Been out here in the desert and haven't seen the Twins play yet this year. Checked and saw today's game was on You Tube which our property has. After the first few hitters, was wondering what is everybody complaining about this spring. I don't see any problems with the Twins.

 

I know he has way too many injuries, but the Twins have to build this team around Buxton going forward. Gotta get him and Berrios to sign on a dotted line.

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So just when I am about to give up watching these guys they find one of their double digit games and pitch well to boot.  So I guess this is our one game this week where the offense does its thing and the rest of the week it is back to tough luck loses.  Anyway great game today keep them coming.

 

Buxton Wow just Wow.  The guy is on fire.  When he is healthy he is the heart of this team.  Here's hoping he stays healthy.  Nice to see Mitch actually making contact and getting a couple of HR's hopefully he gets that confidence back because we need that bat.

 

Oh and yes I apologize to JA Happ.  I didn't like the signing and with him getting off to a late start and looking not ready I had him penciled in for failure.  I will silently eat my crow for now but he looks better than I imagined he could look so far.  Probably our most consistent starter to start the season.

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This is my 1st tv game from Brazil . The Bomba Squad came out as it became the Byron Buxton Show (MVP). Happy to see Garver and Polanco have good games.

Happ's doesn't impresses me but he misses barrels pretty consistently. Dobnak impressed me more with 3 SOs/ 2 innings, a groundballer that can come up with some big SOs. Baldelli here wasted him again as a mop up. How many pitchers could've used those innings to work things out and how many games we lost when we could've used Dobnak in long relief. But what really matters today is that we won!!!!!!

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Entering Wednesday’s ballgame, the Twins lineup had produced just 10 first inning runs in 22 ballgames, which was tied for 21st in Major League Baseball. That trend of first inning futility did not carry over into this game

Actually 10 runs was pretty close to average. MLB average was 0.52 runs per 1st inning, which would be 11.4 for our 22 games entering today. (The 3 teams ranked ahead of us with 11 runs had each played 1-3 more games than us so far.)

 

The broadcast today noted that we led all of MLB with a .360 AVG in the first inning. But second-fewest first inning HR and walk totals meant those hits didn't translate into above-average run scoring. That sure changed today!

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I flinched when I saw Buxton run through first base....  I don't want him to get hurt, but I don't want him to turn off the faucet either. 

 

Can we dream on getting a 150-game season from him??

One side of me when he had his last hit, I was hoping that he'd turn it on and go for a triple to hit the cycle. But the other side was relieved that he didn't.
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An overlooked part of today: Happ being steady on the mound. He's been a pretty decent offseason pickup so far. 

Where would we be without JA Happ?

 

Maeda and Shoemaker are the concerns right now. Berrios, Happ, and Pineda have been solid for the most part.

 

Can't say anything that hasn't been said about Buxton already today. The guy is just unreal. This is the Byron Buxton we thought we'd see during all of those years watching him develop. He has arrived and he's as good or better right now than even the most optimistic projection. May just be the league MVP.

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Normally I'm not one to split hairs, but I'm going to here.  Before we think the ship is righted...Today's game wasn't all that much different than the last 15 with the vast majority of the offensive production coming from Buxton, Cruz, Donaldson.  Difference today was the ridiculous amount of production from those three...and the long overdue contribution from Garver.  Let's hope the entire lineup begins to round into form....and that J.A. Happ continues to impress. 

Also, I'm going to be REALLY curious what Maeda looks like once the weather warms.  Guy pitched in NL West entire career...and didn't pitch in Minnesota til July in 2020 due to Covid.  

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Where would we be without JA Happ?

 

Maeda and Shoemaker are the concerns right now. Berrios, Happ, and Pineda have been solid for the most part.

 

Can't say anything that hasn't been said about Buxton already today. The guy is just unreal. This is the Byron Buxton we thought we'd see during all of those years watching him develop. He has arrived and he's as good or better right now than even the most optimistic projection. May just be the league MVP.

 

Quoting you because I like what you said, but also because it allows me to make a couple general comments.

 

#1) I wanted Oddo and was strong for another couple of guys for multiple years. But I was and am happy with Happ for 1yr. And I think the 1yr was intentional for future flexibility including room for a handful of really nice arms on the way. Despite a late start, I've been impressed with Happ at this point. And he should be even more consistently solid as he builds up.

 

#2) Not worried about Maeda long term because he's just been too good previously, even with regression from 2020. And he had an amazing ST. Is he a victim of EVERYONE pressing and starting slow? Has weather and a weird early schedule affected him? I just believe he's about ready to right himself.

 

Shoemaker, healthy, has been pretty damn good. He's healthy now. He's looked good at times so far this season. But he sure hasn't looked like his previous self so far. Again, is he a victim of a ridiculously weird slow start for the majority of this team so far? Will he remain healthy and find himself soon? Is he just trying to find a "groove" again? I'm not betting against him doing so. But if he just can't find his old self, the good news is we have Dobnak and Thorpe ready to take that 5th spot when/if available.

 

#3) I am going to disagree with the semantics of your description of Buxton being the player, finally, that we've all been waiting for. He was SUPPOSED to be a good hit speedster with pop who could table set. But I absolutely agree he may be better than what was expected. Much like Puckett all those years ago, he has morphed in to a dangerous power/RBI hitter with speed...way more speed than a young Puck or about anyone else...instead of the projected leadoff hitter we expected. And that's a good thing!

 

Great post bighat!

 

 

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Can we please stop referencing the 2019 team that season was an anomaly with the juiced ball!!!!

I was going to say something similar, this team is clearly still capable of hitting plenty of bombas... plus the ball was just as juiced as it was in 2020 and our homers still waned. 

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The best thing about this game is the Twins looked like the Twins we expected to see in 2021.

 

And I don't mean 6HR in one game on a consistent basis. That's just nuts. But a quality start, a pen that did the job, no errors, (or at least no egregious errors), hits and RBI and power and contributions throughout the lineup.

 

The reality is Cave and Astudillo should be nice bench pieces. But injury and covid have had these guys in the lineup almost daily since the season began. That's just not the way it was drawn up originally. Much less Blankenhorn and Riddle and others being pressed in to action. Cave has stunk so far offensively, but has shown some recent "life" with his bat. Astudillo has been solid so far and actually better than I projected.

 

But for a day, we saw the Twins play the way they were built and supposed to play. Garver even looked more like Garver today. Question is, can THE TEAM be happy and feel some weight removed off their backs and get ready for a return home and start to play to their potential?

 

For whatever reason the Twins have been even worse at home so far. Bad mojo from 2 great seasons humbling them before the baseball gods or bad choice of socks, who knows. But April is almost done, May is nearly here, and injuries and covid IL are days away from having the roster at full strength.

 

Perspective moment: Did ANYONE see the Royals leading the ALC a month in? Did ANYONE see the Red Sox leading the ALE a month in? Did ANYONE see the A's leading the ALW a month in? The answers are no, no and maybe. Despite some BAD play, our Twins ran in to Oakland and Boston HOT. The Royals have some talent and some talent on the way. But does ANYONE see sustainability? The answer is no. Things WILL settle down to reality over the next few weeks/months. But the Twins can't just lie in the weeds for too long or they will bet burried.

 

I thought the Royals had enough to fight for a .500 record or slightly better depending on what Cleveland did. But I NEVER thought I'd say a late April/ early May tilt with the Royals could be crucial. But here we are. And it's not really about the Royals...who WILL regress...but more about the 2nd place Dirty Sox. The Twins need to embrace today and a return home and the change of the calender. They need to embrace fans, home, the moment, and a chance to just "perform to their abaility" and not let things slip away.

 

The Royals always play us tough, even when down. The Twins NEED to win 2 if not sweep. It would make a real statement! Then work at taking 3 from Texas, if not a hopeful sweep. 5-2 or a hopeful 6-1 does a lot to right the ship and get us back on course.

 

The pressure is ON. Let's hope the Rocco clubhouse talk and today's game motivates everyone to crank it up another notch.

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Twins need to figure out if they want Buxton AND Berrios longterm now, or forget it.

 

Jeffers back to AAA would be a good move. But can we live with Willians as the second catcher...for awhile.

 

I imagine Kirilloff will also go back when Sano is activated.

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It's truly wonderful to see Buxton leading off a game and not imploding. Quite the opposite. He might finally be ready to lead off.

 

He only scored twice after being on base 5 times... It's just one game, but I see him hitting 3-4 right now too. Which is not what I would have ever said before this season.

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