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The Twins reached a new trough Wednesday, getting hammered by the White Sox. The lethargy with which the team has been playing is quickly spreading across a once energized fan base. The gulf in class between the two teams was as cavernous Wednesday night as the deficit J.A. Happ put the Twins in by the end of the fourth inning.

Box Score
Happ: 3.1 IP, 9 H, 9 ER, 2 BB, 3 SO
Home Runs: Cruz (9) 
Bottom 3 WPA: Happ -.517, Simmons -0.94, Sano -0.65
Win Probability Chart (via Fangraphs)

Sox.png.8b4917e234913621e2e077db004150b4.png

Injury Updates

The Twins provided positive injury news Wednesday, with Alex Kirilloff showing signs of progress from a wrist strain.

 

In the relentless carousel of Twins relievers, Shaun Anderson was recalled to replace Devin Smeltzer, who was placed on the 10 day IR with elbow inflammation.

 

Twins Take Early Lead, Surrender it in Comically Expedited Fashion

The Twins started the game well. Nelson Cruz clubbed his 9th HR of the season to left center field.

 

Tom Froemming tried to warn me, and I didn’t listen.

 

The White Sox came into the game slashing .300/.387/.471 against left handed pitching. J.A. Happ took the mound for the Twins. If nothing else, Happ’s previous two seasons with the Yankees have deprived baseball fans of a truly elite beard. Full yet even, with the right balance of salt and pepper to fit into a dramatized reenactment on History Channel, Happ was ready for the White Sox. They wasted no time demolishing him, immediately hitting a single, two doubles, and a triple...in the first inning. The Sox took a 2-1 lead after one.

Known Twins Killer, Billy Hamilton?

The Sox quickly added on in the second, career .323 SLG Billy Hamilton ripping a triple off Happ, before scampering home on a wild pitch which seemed to spell the beginning of the evergreen evening Twins fans have experienced all season. 

The Twins fought back however, Josh Donaldson exemplifying a strong offensive approach in staying away from Dallas Keuchel’s soft and away stuff to poke a two run, opposite field single through the hole, to cut the lead to 4-3.

 

White Sox Pour it On

The story of the Twins season however, in addition to a lot of losing, is at least one phase of play letting them down on a nightly basis. Today, it was Happ. White Sox prospect Andrew Vaughn crushed a two run home run off Happ in the bottom of the 4th to increase the lead to 6-3, before Hamilton added a double. This elevated Happ’s pitch count to almost 80 in the bottom of the 4th with none out. Not the position to put a bad bullpen in when the Twins are in the midst of a stretch of 17 games in 16 days.

Some time elapsed. At the end of the 4h inning, the Twins were down 9-3.

Newly promoted Shaun Anderson relieved Happ in the 4th. He gave up a solo homer to previously struggling Yasmani Grandal in the 5th to extend the lead to 10-3.

Some more time elapsed. At the end of the 5h inning, the Twins were down 12-3. In spite of his final pitching line, Anderson’s stuff was intriguing. He showcased good velocity and a sharp bite to his slider. Given then he threw over 50 pitches, he will likely be replaced by a fresh arm Thursday, but warrants a further look from the Twins.

The Twins continued to execute decently against Keuchel in the 6th, with 3 consecutive singles cutting the lead to a mere 8. Jorge Polanco is a clear reason for optimism amongst Twins fans.

 

In addition to his increased consistency from both sides of the plate, Polanco’s last 100 plate appearances show a clear improvement Twins fans should be excited for moving into May, with approximately 130 games left in the 2021 season.

A two run Luis Arraez single closed the lead to 12-7 after the top of the 6th.

The Final Third

In the final third of the game, Twins twitter continued to provide sobering perspective on the state of the still young 2021 season. Scott Badger put the division into perspective.

 

Alexander Colomé pitched a scoreless (gasp) 7th for the Twins, despite two deep fly ball outs. The Twins offered little offensively in the 8th or 9th save Trevor Larnach’s first big league hit, a double to right field off Liam Hendriks. The Twins fell to 12-22, 9 games behind the first place White Sox.

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

What’s Next?
On Thursday, the Twins will send Michael Pineda to the hill against ex-Twin Lance Lynn. First pitch is at 1:10 CT.

 


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The little sliver of hope that many of us were holding on to coming into this series is gone. Of course there is plenty of season left, but it’s clear the difference in these two rosters is significant, and that’s without Chicago having 2 of their best hitters. I would also say that the twins had the starting pitching advantage in game one, and tonight was a wash, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at the scores. At least colome has been decent as of late I suppose, get that trade value up above nothing. Congrats to Larnach on his first hit. At this point, I’m hoping the positive from this season is that AK, Larnach, and a few other prospects we haven’t seen yet give me reason to believe in next years squad. 

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I think all my predictions would come true. I predicted this is not the season we expected and bullpen is going to be the problem before the season. I also predicted a few games ago Rocco and Derek are going to be unemployed after the season. Let's see.

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Seth Rogan just did some hilarious interviews with Howard Stern - including some really funny stories about meeting Tom Cruise and George Lucas. If you're looking for a day brightener, head over to YouTube and look them up.

Back to the Twins - we could have all turned off the game when the White Sox took a 2-1 lead in the 1st inning. There is no fight in this team offensively. And, every time the offense shows life, the starting pitcher or bullpen immediate gives up the lead. I'm talking right away, they don't even let the Twins build on a lead for an inning or two. Any lead is just POOF gone.

I'm getting antsy for some kind of big move. Maybe it's a firing of someone in management. Or maybe it's a demotion of a big name. But something's gotta happen. Because sitting around and doing nothing is just so pathetically lethargic that it's embarrassing.

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Some of this is a lack of talent. But some of this is a failure of the players to meet our expectations. And the fluke 2019 season didn’t help. The Keplers, Garvers, Sanos, and Rogers maybe aren’t what we thought they were. I for one thought Polanco would be a true pure hitter. He’s gotten better, but he isn’t what I envisioned. And while Cruz has 9? HR’s, he is beginning to appear a mere mortal. 
As for mental approach, well one of the "team leaders" lollygagged his butt home on that DP and cost a run. Also, I was a huge fan of signing Simmons, the team needed a SS badly. But he is playing with about as much interest as my grandchildren do when we pick up sticks in the yard! 

The Twins pitching staff needs no further verbal abuse, it’s mostly all been said. But, if I was a pitcher and had to pitch to Garver I would seriously have to consider going to my grandmothers funeral that day. The fact I no longer have a grandmother would not deter me a bit. Seriously, if there is a worse MLB catcher I can’t name him. His two singles were easily displaced by the two unblocked low balls, scoring runs. How can you pitch with confidence down in the zone looking at him behind the plate. Pitch framing? I have seen high school catchers who don’t jerk a pitch that clumsily. 
I don’t think the Calvary is coming this year. This may just be what it is. The FO is going to have to do some pretty miraculous work to turn this around, even by next year. The only player untouchable should be Buxton, and I think he only has a year left under control. Sadly, with his inability to stay on the field, that translates into about 100 more games. 

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This site is becoming our therapy couch.  We keep elevating our hopes - Oh good Happ is pitching!  Yikes he gave up 9 runs.  Shaun is coming in (the announcers are so desperate that they talk on about how many different spellings the teams history of Sauns has had) and of course he gives up a HR.

The team rallies, we are going to keep it going - right?  The radio announcers are trying to hold in their shock - Garlick is going to bat and they have good matchups on the bench - sure they will use Larnach.  No they don't.  Larnach will PH with no one on and be stranded in the next inning, but Garlick will bat and kill the rally.  Hey Rocco - find that sheet about LH/RH matchups.  They pull Garlick then and put in Cave and his 169 BA.  That will help. 

What happened to Simmons?  Why is he out of the game? Will his ankle keep him out now?  

The tears are flowing, but I am feeling better now - thanks for the couch!

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"It gets late early out there."...as only Yogi could say it.  Season is getting some would say gone awfully early,  Normally I say you gotta wait until around Father's Day for a true assessment but this team seems to have no life.  Not sure how it gets turned around?  

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2 hours ago, bighat said:

And, every time the offense shows life, the starting pitcher or bullpen immediate gives up the lead. I'm talking right away, they don't even let the Twins build on a lead for an inning or two. Any lead is just POOF gone.

It's as if every game is a playoff game against the Yankees.

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8 minutes ago, Hosken Bombo Disco said:

The advanced analytics are necessary in today’s game, but not sufficient.

Baseball still requires tobacco and spit. This team doesn’t have enough of it. 

image.jpeg.0e8948d9328c002f183de01121dfe324.jpeg

They rank last in the league in CG+TS (crotch grabs plus tobacco spits). 😆

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It's quite an indictment of this team that despite the White Sox being depleted, they're still light years better than this squad.  That's not a good sign.

Also, the Scott Badger Tweet makes me sad.

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15 minutes ago, wsnydes said:

It's quite an indictment of this team that despite the White Sox being depleted, they're still light years better than this squad.  That's not a good sign.

I've got to hand it to the White Sox -- they're kind of fun to watch right now. 

As a Twins fan, I had hoped/expected them to be fun in a trainwreck kind of way when they hired LaRussa and spent big money on a closer.

But as a baseball fan, I can appreciate that they have a very interesting mix of players -- of different styles, from different backgrounds. They're far from perfect, but they're coming together in an effective way at the moment.

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The only thing worse than a bad bullpen is a bad rotation... not that we have one, but if Happ keeps pitching like this, it's only going to compound the issue. I endured 2011-2014 Twins baseball, so I know a thing or two about awful rotations...

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This is the Happ I sort of expected so not too surprised.  This team is just hard to watch right now.  From untimely errors to someone giving up the game (SP, Pen, errors, unable to score with bases loaded or from second in extra's) to the other team it is just hard to stay engaged.  I kept thinking things might get better but there are too many hitters in this lineup that are black holes and too many relievers that lack any kind of consistency.  There are so many things wrong this team seems destined to flop this year.

I thought we had a pitching coach who could help guys get consistent and stay that way but I guess that was just smoke and mirrors.  I thought pitching would be the strength of this team but that has not been the case.  Well it was fun being on top for a couple of years back to the bottom I guess.

 

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3 hours ago, Platoon said:

The Twins pitching staff needs no further verbal abuse, it’s mostly all been said. But, if I was a pitcher and had to pitch to Garver I would seriously have to consider going to my grandmothers funeral that day. The fact I no longer have a grandmother would not deter me a bit. Seriously, if there is a worse MLB catcher I can’t name him. His two singles were easily displaced by the two unblocked low balls, scoring runs. How can you pitch with confidence down in the zone looking at him behind the plate. Pitch framing? I have seen high school catchers who don’t jerk a pitch that clumsily. 

I've been pretty unimpressed with Garver's defense this season for many of the reasons you listed but in fairness to him, that first failed block that scored a run was some pretty lousy baseball luck. The ball hit something - possibly the edge of the plate - and bounced the opposite direction it was tailing (and the direction Garver was moving to block). Happ is a lefty and the ball hit the opposite side of the plate. It then bounced back to Happ's arm side of the plate, which isn't something a catcher can expect to happen or have time to react to it happening.

https://www.mlb.com/gameday/twins-vs-white-sox/2021/05/12/634160#game_state=final,lock_state=final,game_tab=videos,game=634160 

Blech, MLB doesn't want to let me easily link to a specific video. Look for the video "Hamilton Scores on a Wild Pitch" after scrolling.

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1 hour ago, wsnydes said:

It's quite an indictment of this team that despite the White Sox being depleted, they're still light years better than this squad. 

The Twins are learning that talent and experience are great, but execution is what ultimately matters.  Many of the teams who padded their stats v. the Twins are not good.

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1 hour ago, spycake said:

I've got to hand it to the White Sox -- they're kind of fun to watch right now. 

As a Twins fan, I had hoped/expected them to be fun in a trainwreck kind of way when they hired LaRussa and spent big money on a closer.

But as a baseball fan, I can appreciate that they have a very interesting mix of players -- of different styles, from different backgrounds. They're far from perfect, but they're coming together in an effective way at the moment.

They are fun to watch.  I picked them to the win the division, but figured that they'd be a bit of a wild card.  They still might be, but they execute as they should and don't rely on hitting the ball out of the park.  It's a bonus, not the basis of an offense.  

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10 minutes ago, Dodecahedron said:

The Twins are learning that talent and experience are great, but execution is what ultimately matters.  Many of the teams who padded their stats v. the Twins are not good.

That's part of the indictment.  The White Sox aren't world beaters and have some key injuries, yet this team doesn't look remotely close to being able to beat them.  The fact that other lesser teams are competitive with this team reflects what you're saying.  Average teams should walk all over this squad right now.

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To say this is complete system failure at this point is an understatement.  The Twins are unwatchable.  Who in their right mind would even consider PAYING to go to a game at this point.  And that's without even considering the current crusade against law enforcement in the Twin Cities, how potentially unsafe it could be to go to the ballpark.  But even watching on TV is just far too frustrating.  Lastly, it's certainly time to send Sano to St. Paul to "find his stroke" because he is just plain LOST at the plate.  

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13 minutes ago, TopGunn#22 said:

And that's without even considering the current crusade against law enforcement in the Twin Cities, how potentially unsafe it could be to go to the ballpark.

I don't want to start a conversation about this but I *only* hear this message from people who don't go to downtown Minneapolis. I know *so many* people who go to a ton of Twins games and/or live downtown and they move around down there without a bit of trouble. Hell, our own John Bonnes lives downtown and (obviously) goes to a bunch of Twins games. He walks back and forth and has talked about it on the podcast a few times. Never had a lick of trouble, nor has one of my best friends who literally lives two blocks from Target Field.

Don't buy into politically-driven narratives from people who don't actually live or visit the place in question.

With that said, I have no interest in pursuing this line of conversation or arguing about it, as I've been there, know people who live there, and no one has reported any difficulty or worry so let's end the discussion here and move on.

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Some thoughts/musings...

1) This team is brutal right now.

2) Congrats Trevor Larnach’ on getting your first big league hit.  Hopefully many more to come!

3) Is Jorge Polanco turning the corner at the plate?  Lets hope so.

4) I feel the Twins missed an opportunity to try and get Sano straightened out at the plate.  A rehab assignment coming off the IL may have given him a chance to right himself with less pressure, etc.

5) This team is brutal right now

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13 minutes ago, puckstopper1 said:

3) Is Jorge Polanco turning the corner at the plate?  Lets hope so.

It's probably because I got so fed up with him several days ago that I referred to his hitting from the left side as "hot garbage".

You know what else is hot garbage? The entire Twins roster.

#fingerscrossed

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