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The Twins come out on top against the Royals on Sunday afternoon after another game of struggling to push across runs. They were able to split the four-game series against the Royals improving to 23-35 on the season. That and more in today’s game recap.

Box Score

Bailey Ober: 4 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 4 K (72.5% strikes)

Homeruns: none

Top 3 WPA: Rogers (.452), Larnach (.120), Duffey (.110)

Win Probability Chart (via Fangraphs)

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Ober Efficient in Second Career Start

Like his first Major League start, Ober gave the Twins four strikeouts in four innings but this time he was able to keep hitters in the ballpark leading to just one run scored. Ober was looking good early after going six up-six down in the first two innings including three strikeouts, executing the scouting report on the Royals:

The “Rocco pulls his pitchers too early” crowd will not be happy as Ober only needed 51 pitches to get through those four innings, but the Royals were hitting the ball hard and had an xBA of .342 going into the top of the fifth. Moreover, in the third the Royals had runners on 1st and 2nd with nobody out before Miguel Sanó was involved in his third triple play in as many years and the fifteenth in franchise history:

Even in the fourth inning, Royals hitters were starting to get to Ober after Alex Kirilloff misplayed a lead-off Whit Merrifield single, turning it into a standup triple. Fortunately, Andrelton Simmons was shifted behind second base to snare a Carlos Santana line drive that helped limit the damage of the inning to just one run on three hits.

Twins Load the Bases but Struggle to Score

I mean that both figuratively and literally. Brady Singer needed 106 pitches to get through five and two-thirds innings where he allowed eight hits and three walks, yet the Twins were only able to manage two runs scored going 2-for-8 with runners in scoring position. But literally in the fifth, Polanco placed a bunt perfectly down the third baseline which loaded the bases with nobody out. After back-to-back strikeouts from Kirilloff and Sanó, the Twins were able to scrape together a run thanks to a Trevor Larnach hit-by-pitch. On the day the Twins finished going 2-for-11 with 10 left on base. With all of that said, it’s hard to be totally negative when you are able to get on base 13 times like the Twins did today.

Strikeouts aside, Miguel Sanó continued to hit the ball hard today with an RBI double that gave the Twins their first lead in the third, as well as hitting a shot to centerfied in the 6th that had  an exit velocity of 96.5 miles per hour and an xBA of .390. More encouraging is the continued hitting of Nick Gordon who went 2-for-4 upping his OPS to .979 while swiping his third base on the season, as the Twins organization continues to develop middle infield talent after seeing Luis Arraez and Jorge Polanco experience success in recent years.

Bullpen Turns in Solid Series

A Taylor Rogers high leverage save was a great way to cap off a tremendous weekend by the Twins bullpen. After a taxing six and two-thirds inning on Friday night, the Twins relief pitchers were able to shut down the Royals for three innings on Saturday and five innings on Sunday, not to mention three innings of one (unearned) run ball on Thursday night. 

Although it may be too little too late for 2021, the Twins will likely be seeking to get some value out of one-year rentals Alex Colomé and Hansel Robles via trades while also giving pitchers like Jorge Alcala and Luke Farrell an opportunity to showcase their talents for 2022 and beyond. 

  WED THU FRI SAT SUN TOT
Anderson 0 0 62 0 0 62
Farrell 0 11 0 0 13 24
Colomé 21 0 0 0 0 21
Robles 0 20 0 10 15 45
Duffey 0 12 0 7 14 33
Alcala 3 0 7 0 10 20
Rogers 0 0 0 12 0 12

A lot of fans were hoping that 13 games against the Orioles and Royals would ignite this team into the playoff contender they were projected to be. Unfortunately, the Twins end up going 6-7 over that stretch and now face Yankees and Astros for six games at home after an off-day on Monday. I’d imagine these last two weeks were the figurative “nail in the coffin” for even the most optimistic fans.

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16 minutes ago, Matthew Lenz said:

A lot of fans were hoping that 13 games against the Orioles and Royals would ignite this team into the playoff contender they were projected to be. Unfortunately, the Twins end up going 6-7 over that stretch

7-6, actually! We started 12 games under .500 and finished 11 games under .500.

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34 minutes ago, wsnydes said:

These stolen base things are exciting!  I'd love to see more of them!  I'd like to see more of Gordon, even if it's just a showcase for trade bait.  Those are the types of things I want to see the rest of the season.

Me too, no hashtag.

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"Strikeouts aside, Miguel Sanó continued to hit the ball hard today with an RBI double that gave the Twins their first lead in the third, as well as hitting a shot to centerfied in the 6th that had  an exit velocity of 96.5 miles per hour and an xBA of .390."

See....... Sano just needs to swing harder and it will make it out of the park!  :wacko:

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4 minutes ago, h2oface said:

"Strikeouts aside, Miguel Sanó continued to hit the ball hard today with an RBI double that gave the Twins their first lead in the third, as well as hitting a shot to centerfied in the 6th that had  an exit velocity of 96.5 miles per hour and an xBA of .390."

See....... Sano just needs to swing harder and it will make it out of the park!  :wacko:

Swing hard in case of contact.

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A few observations to add on:

1. I know I'm old...55....but am I the only fan who could care less about exit velo, xBA and launch angles? I know those things aren't going away, but I'm only concerned about did Player A for the Twins have a quality/productive AB---especially with RISP.  2-11 today, which has been "the norm" all season.

2.  Nick Gordon:  Yes, some regression is quite possible, but he needs to STAY ON THE ACTIVE ROSTER for the forseeable future.  2 more hits today and his speed add a huge missing element to our stagnant offense.

3. Matt Shoemaker:  Looking for anyone to make an argument why he should remain in the rotation over Bailey Ober?

4.  I know only a miniscule sample size...last 2 games........but is their finally some defined roles in the bullpen?  Alcala for 6th, Duffy in 7th and combo of Robles/Rogers for 8th-9th.  

Not sure if anyone had a sickening feeling like I did going into bottom of 6th nursing a 2-1 lead, but I seriously thought Baldelli was going to bring Colome in at that point.  

5.  What is the status of Refsnyder coming off 7-day IL?  I didn't see Celestino today (fine with that).  Can't believe using Garlick is any long term answer, but his bat deserves the ABs much moreso than Celestino.

and finally.........

What is the "over/under" for Twins wins this week hosting Yanks and Stros over the next 6 games?

I'll set the line at 2

 

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A good team should win close games and pitchers duels, but we are playing the bottom teams and for us to barely win the games we are not blown out in is not a good sign.  I do like having Ober pitch today and I understand what the writer says about him getting hit harder as the game goes on, but part of learning how to be a starter is to learn how to handle situations like this and to work through them.  

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1 hour ago, darwin22 said:

Not sure if anyone had a sickening feeling like I did going into bottom of 6th nursing a 2-1 lead, but I seriously thought Baldelli was going to bring Colome in at that point.  

Colomé hasn't pitched since Wednesday the 2nd, has he?  In his last 4 appearances he has faced 16 batters and 8 of them have reached, two of those with homers.  The ERA of 9 across those 3 innings is indicative.

So Rocco has let him rot on the bullpen bench, just as we all would hope, presumably until such time as a game is sufficiently lopsided to let him eat an inning and try to prove he's getting better, or else a string of close games and/or bullpen overwork forces the manager's hand.

 

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1 hour ago, darwin22 said:

A few observations to add on:

1. I know I'm old...55....but am I the only fan who could care less about exit velo, xBA and launch angles? I know those things aren't going away, but I'm only concerned about did Player A for the Twins have a quality/productive AB---especially with RISP.  2-11 today, which has been "the norm" all season.

Velocity and xBA are great measures of a "quality at bat." If you hit the ball 95+ mph, that's a good AB. If it happens to be right at a fielder, well, you can't control that.

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1 hour ago, h2oface said:

"Strikeouts aside, Miguel Sanó continued to hit the ball hard today with an RBI double that gave the Twins their first lead in the third, as well as hitting a shot to centerfied in the 6th that had  an exit velocity of 96.5 miles per hour and an xBA of .390."

See....... Sano just needs to swing harder and it will make it out of the park!  :wacko:

Well....let's have more fun with math to get the complete picture...

His AVERAGE exit velocity with strikeouts was (96.5+0+0+0)/4 =  24.125 mph*

There, I knew that modern statistics could still explain a crappy performance!

*does not include 5th AB; If anyone an find it, feel free to recalculate; the average will still be bad

 

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1 hour ago, darwin22 said:

A few observations to add on:

1. I know I'm old...55....but am I the only fan who could care less about exit velo, xBA and launch angles? I know those things aren't going away, but I'm only concerned about did Player A for the Twins have a quality/productive AB---especially with RISP.  2-11 today, which has been "the norm" all season.

2.  Nick Gordon:  Yes, some regression is quite possible, but he needs to STAY ON THE ACTIVE ROSTER for the forseeable future.  2 more hits today and his speed add a huge missing element to our stagnant offense.

3. Matt Shoemaker:  Looking for anyone to make an argument why he should remain in the rotation over Bailey Ober?

4.  I know only a miniscule sample size...last 2 games........but is their finally some defined roles in the bullpen?  Alcala for 6th, Duffy in 7th and combo of Robles/Rogers for 8th-9th.  

Not sure if anyone had a sickening feeling like I did going into bottom of 6th nursing a 2-1 lead, but I seriously thought Baldelli was going to bring Colome in at that point.  

5.  What is the status of Refsnyder coming off 7-day IL?  I didn't see Celestino today (fine with that).  Can't believe using Garlick is any long term answer, but his bat deserves the ABs much moreso than Celestino.

and finally.........

What is the "over/under" for Twins wins this week hosting Yanks and Stros over the next 6 games?

I'll set the line at 2

 

1: Terry Ryan got run out of town for such thoughts.  And he was a much better judge of talent than you and me will ever be.

 

2:  Too bad Gordon or Polanco can not play a passable SS.  No spot for Gordon on the active roster one Arraez comes back

3: Shoemaker is a proven MLB pitcher, Ober made two starts and hasn’t got past the 5 inning 

4: weird how the bullpen looks better when Rogers and Duffey are getting people out.  Robles is a little scary to me

 

i will take the over....forever an optimist 

 

 

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39 minutes ago, blindeke said:

Velocity and xBA are great measures of a "quality at bat." If you hit the ball 95+ mph, that's a good AB. If it happens to be right at a fielder, well, you can't control that.

Great hitters, throughout the history of the game, have been able to control where the ball goes when they hit it. Pulling, hitting to the opposite field, hitting in the shift to where they aren't... Rod Carew certainly comes to mind as I saw him do it his whole career.  I think the assumption stated as fact that you can't control where you hit the ball is just not true. Some can't. For some it is just the goal to touch the ball as well as you can. The truly great hitters seem to have more motive and success. I will take soft contact for a hit anyday over hitting it 95 mph right at someone, and will continue to declare a hit a better at bat than hitting the ball hard with a poor outcome.

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6 hours ago, darwin22 said:

A few observations to add on:

1. I know I'm old...55....but am I the only fan who could care less about exit velo, xBA and launch angles? I know those things aren't going away, but I'm only concerned about did Player A for the Twins have a quality/productive AB---especially with RISP.  2-11 today, which has been "the norm" all season

 

Everyone wants results, but a hitter can't completely control that. All he can do is try to get a good pitch, try to barrel up the ball and hit it hard... exit velocity is just a measurement for 'hit the ball hard."  Nothing more. Fans want results.  Players can't control the results so they focus on their process and putting together a quality at bat and hope the results follow.

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"A lot of fans were hoping that 13 games against the Orioles and Royals would ignite this team into the playoff contender they were projected to be. Unfortunately, the Twins end up going 6-7 over that stretch and now face Yankees and Astros for six games at home after an off-day on Monday. I’d imagine these last two weeks were the figurative “nail in the coffin” for even the most optimistic fans."

I just looked at the standings. This morning we are 6 games behind the Royals, meaning we were 6 games back when we pulled into KC. I would think that would be an indication to the fans that the Royals weren’t going to be as cooperative as some had hoped. 
 

But baseball is a strange game. The Twins could just possibly have better results this week in the face of impending doom. 

 

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I would like to see Gordon get a decent shot.  Not sure if it was all health, or that he just did not fit the new FO type of guy, but he really fell down the organizational depth charts.  I am not expecting all star numbers from him, but I bet he could be a super utility guy for a few years. 

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Exit velocity shows the hitter can hit the ball hard, not much more.  However, launch angle + velocity = distance.  Science.

But baseball is smart.  Focusing on hitting it hard and far means the hitters are no longer focusing on directional hitting.  Thus, the shift, the annoyance of everyone.  Puckett would probably not have a favorable view of how the game is played today.  It's become very ... basic.  Very brutalistic.  Take a look at the hit that won the 1991 world series, where the Twins beat the shift with a perfectly placed hit.

Baseball provided the data for this insight, then realized it was too much information and deadened the baseball.  Good teams have to see this coming and constantly adjust.  The MLB made no secret of their changes, so there isn't an excuse for failing to adjust.

Signing garbage pitchers because you thought your team would hit 300 home runs did not work.

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Wondering about Gordon…

Wasn't he also considered a pitching prospect at the draft? His arm must be pretty good for SS. Is it his footwork or his reaction/read time that prevent him from playing a passable SS? His minor league error rate doesn’t seem to be the problem. 

If he is to be a super utility shouldn’t he be getting time in the outfield as well as 3B in St. Paul? His arm should be able to handle those spots. His speed should work in CF. Reading the ball off the bat and getting the best jump would need a lot of reps that can happen in St. Paul.

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