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Game Recap: White Sox 9, Twins 3


What’s with this new programming from Bally Sports North? They keep showing a replay of the exact same Twins game. They get ahead, bullpen gives up runs, bats leave men on base and they eventually lose. Sheesh, get a new show already!

Box Score
Maeda: 5 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 3 K
Home Runs: Polanco (3)
Bottom 3 WPA: Alcala -.249, Garver -.108, Kepler -.081
Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs)

chart.png

Kenta’s Concerning Command

Kenta Maeda continued to struggle with his command and was visibly upset with himself during parts of his outing tonight. This start extends an alarming trend of Maeda’s whiff rate dropping while his hard-hit rate increases. Here’s a look at the numbers:

  Whiff% Hard-Hit%
2020 34.7 24.7
2021* 28.7 44.7
Tonight 25.0 57.1
*prior to tonight's game

Maeda threw 56 of his 87 pitches for strikes (64.4%), struck out three batters and walked two. He issued multiple walks in just two of his 11 starts last season but this makes four of seven starts for 2021. The only runs Maeda gave up were on one swing of the bat, a three-run homer by Yasmani Grandal. It could have been worse.

Web Gems

Maeda was aided by a pair of nice run-saving plays by his outfielders. Left fielder Luis Arraez ended the second inning by nailing a runner at the plate on a beautiful throw.

The very next inning, center fielder Max Kepler robbed José Abreu of a home run on a very smooth snag. 

Maybe that would have been off the wall. Maybe. Still, that’s a pair of fine plays by a couple guys in less familiar positions. There were some plays in the field later in the game that were, uh, less good. Feel free to discuss that one among yourselves. 

RISP/Relief Shortfalls

Speaking of negative trends continuing, the Twins got outperformed in terms of both hitting with runners in scoring position and bullpen performance yet again. The Twins went 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position, left 10 men on and the bullpen surrendered six runs. Meanwhile, the White Sox went 5-for-11 w/RISP, only left four men on and received four shutout innings from their bullpen.

To be accurate, the bullpen didn’t technically give up the lead since they took over with the score tied. Progress! Jorge Alcala was credited with the loss, however, meaning the bullpen now has a combined 1-12 record.

Simmons’ Not So Sexy Swing

During a pregame interview, Andrelton Simmons spoke to reporters about how a hitter’s approach may change depending upon whether they’re feeling sexy at the plate.

Simmons delivered a base hit in his first at-bat and perhaps was feeling a little too sexy the next time he was up. Dylan Cease induced one of the ugliest “swings” from Simmons you’ll ever see from a batter. It’s hard to describe, just ask Dan Gladden.

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

 

 


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I don’t know if the season is over, but it is at best on life-support. Nothing kills a baseball team more quickly than blown late leads/ ties by a bad bullpen ( see Davis, Ron). The bullpen is sucking the life out of this team and probably cannot be fixed. 
 

The more interesting question is whether anyone is going to step up and make a mark this year for the future.  Watching for that may soon be the only reason to watch this team, at least sober. The second most interesting question is whether this manager and coaching staff survives the season intact. I’d the odds of stating intact is no better than 50/50. 

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Dylan Cease was simply awful - he was wild, ineffective, and throwing up meatballs. If you watched the game, his performance was much worse than his line shows. Yet the Twins' bats are so futile, that Cease actually set a personal record for getting 20 swings-and-misses. That's right: on a mediocre pitcher's worst night, he still marked a personal best against Minnesota Twins bats.

I'm not even touching the bullpen, as I have nothing to add that hasn't been said. Rortvedt should be shown the door, he makes Jeffers look like Hank Aaron. Cruz is swinging and missing at 89MPH fastballs down the middle. Simmons' baserunning mistake in the 2nd inning is unforgiveable, just a complete meltdown. La Tortuga is our best option at first right now, I can't even imagine how bad this lineup would be with Sano in it.

I'm with most who say the season appears to be over. It's mind-boggling that we are already to this point but the record and performance speak for themselves.

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Rortvedt really seemed to struggle catching Maeda and Berrios, not on the same page with either, though I did notice a fist bump between Maeda and Rortvedt last night when Kepler robbed Abreu to end the third. Small victories I guess. Maeda recovered and retired the last nine he faced.

Maeda might have had another inning in him? Rocco likes to turn it over to the ‘pen, as we all know. I guess it wouldn’t have mattered. I am going to assume Rocco, Derek and Thad are all kind of tied at the hip and in lockstep regarding the bullpen and pitcher usage.

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Watching the Twins this year might be the fun of watching and waiting for the train wreck. One of my morbid fascinations is watching bad teams to see how they will find a way to lose. It becomes kind of funny to me. The Twins might be that team this year. Byron Buxton is a star, but can't stay on the field of play. Astudillo has tremendous bat-to-ball skills and is fun to watch and root for. Nick Gordon was fun while he was here. I miss Billy Martin.

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I've divorced myself from any expectations I had for this team going in. I try to catch the games and just enjoy having baseball back when so much has been taken from us these past 14 months or so. That said, I'll mainly be watching to see how bad this gets before significant changes are made. Watching the next wave of talent come up, etc. 

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One of the leaders on this team needs to have a closed door meeting. They need let the whole team know that this is not acceptable. Something needs to change. We all know what needs to be changed, it just takes a whole team to make that change. Will we see a turnaround soon? Who knows. But it definitely needs to happen shortly or our season is pretty much toast.

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11 minutes ago, mac098 said:

One of the leaders on this team needs to have a closed door meeting. They need let the whole team know that this is not acceptable. Something needs to change. We all know what needs to be changed, it just takes a whole team to make that change. Will we see a turnaround soon? Who knows. But it definitely needs to happen shortly or our season is pretty much toast.

Who is that leader?  This team has no emotions except for Arraez and Astudillo and neither of them qualifies as a leader.

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30 minutes ago, mac098 said:

One of the leaders on this team needs to have a closed door meeting. They need let the whole team know that this is not acceptable. Something needs to change. We all know what needs to be changed, it just takes a whole team to make that change. Will we see a turnaround soon? Who knows. But it definitely needs to happen shortly or our season is pretty much toast.

I guess the pushback would be: what would they say? Is it the whole team that needs changing? I’d argue no. Guys like Buxton or Donaldson getting in the face of our bullpen pitchers seems a little off key. I mean, the bullpen guys already seem intimidated enough by opposing batters, no need for our own batters to shatter them completely :)

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Checked gameday early.  Saw that Simmons may have taken them out of a big inning when he was thrown out at third for the third out on the sac fly making it 3-0 Twins.  Would it have played out differently?  Probably not, but we will never know.

With 8 games against the Sox (5) and A's (3) in the next eight days, we should know by next Thursday whether to write this team off or if a glimmer of hope still exists.  With how they have been playing expect this next week will be ugly, but they play the games for a reason.

Don't know what changes this team needs to make, but one is to get Rortvedt back to AA or AAA so he can continue to develop as a hitter.  The kid hasn't played a real game since the end of the 2019 season when he was at AA.  With not being at the Alternate site last year, the Twins are doing him a disservice by having him up here.

Gonna be interesting to see who the Twins part with this summer and what they are able to get in return.  I really hope they can find a way to extend Buxton as the foundation on which this team should be built.  Keep Buxton, Arraez and maybe Polanco and/or Kepler.  Not real certain which pitchers they should build around, maybe aren't any currently on the team.

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I think it may have to be Buxton that they part ways with this summer.  I know that would be extremely painful, but let's be realistic, he's really the only guy that they'd get anything for, plus after what the Twins did to him a few years ago with service time and all I really doubt Buck would ever resign with the Twins ever anyway.  So might as well get something big for him?  I mean guys like Sano are pretty much worthless pieces right now.  No one will part with bag of baseballs for him right now.  

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1 hour ago, mac098 said:

One of the leaders on this team needs to have a closed door meeting. They need let the whole team know that this is not acceptable. Something needs to change. We all know what needs to be changed, it just takes a whole team to make that change. Will we see a turnaround soon? Who knows. But it definitely needs to happen shortly or our season is pretty much toast.

This should have happened a couple of weeks ago, after losing in Oakland and Seattle. Now it's too late and there's only a shell of a team (mentally and medically) to try to roust.

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I've never watched a team this infuriating to watch on a daily basis. 

They're not a terrible team but they're so completely and epically terrible in such specific ways for no apparent reason.

Like the fact they're one of the better offenses in baseball but have scored like three runs in the ninth inning or later.

AAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

HOWWWWWWW

STOPPPPPPPPPPPPPP

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I don't see how you even fix this team for next year without opening up the checkbook big time. You'll need to sign half a bullpen, a catcher, a SS, a 4th OF, and two SP. Then probably overpay on extensions for Buxton/Berrios and find a way to clear the $25 million from Polanco, Kepler, & Sano. Since almost every item on that list is nigh impossible for this team it leaves almost no choice but to sell and retool. What a bummer.

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11 hours ago, insagt1 said:

Is it possible that these games keep getting worse and worse? I'm convinced that the Twins could get a bases loaded walk and somehow not have the run score. Don't ask me how....ask them. They have the patent.

They could actually pull this off:

RULE 7.10, Approved Ruling (2)

". . . When the ball is dead, no runner may return to touch a missed base or one he has left...upon appeal he shall be called out."

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1 hour ago, roger said:

Checked gameday early.  Saw that Simmons may have taken them out of a big inning when he was thrown out at third for the third out on the sac fly making it 3-0 Twins.  Would it have played out differently?  Probably not, but we will never know.

With 8 games against the Sox (5) and A's (3) in the next eight days, we should know by next Thursday whether to write this team off or if a glimmer of hope still exists.  With how they have been playing expect this next week will be ugly, but they play the games for a reason.

Don't know what changes this team needs to make, but one is to get Rortvedt back to AA or AAA so he can continue to develop as a hitter.  The kid hasn't played a real game since the end of the 2019 season when he was at AA.  With not being at the Alternate site last year, the Twins are doing him a disservice by having him up here.

Gonna be interesting to see who the Twins part with this summer and what they are able to get in return.  I really hope they can find a way to extend Buxton as the foundation on which this team should be built.  Keep Buxton, Arraez and maybe Polanco and/or Kepler.  Not real certain which pitchers they should build around, maybe aren't any currently on the team.

Can't build a team around a guy who never plays more than 100 games a season. Guys who can't stay healthy in their 20's don't suddenly become durable in their 30's. Buxton has only played over 100 games in a season once, in 2017. I love Buck, but I wouldn't extend him unless he's taking a discount for the health issues. I'm guessing he's expecting to be paid like Betts.

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