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Game Recap: Royals 6, Twins 3


No win for Emmy's 106th Birthday (though I heard the party was great! The Minnesota Twins fell to the Royals again on Saturday afternoon to extend their losing streak to five games. 

 

 

Box Score
Griffin Jax: 5.0 IP, 8 H, 6 ER, 3 BB, 3 K
Home Runs: Trevor Larnach (6)

Bottom 3 WPA: Griffin Jax (-0.368), Alex Kirilloff (-0.129), Luis Arraez (-0.094)

Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs)

chart (1).png

Jax Makes First Start 

After earning his first MLB Win in his previous appearance, the Twins sent Griffin Jax to the mound on Saturday afternoon for his first major-league start. He struggled in the first inning. It started with a 10-pitch plate appearance for Whit Merrifield. Then Jorge Soler had a long at bat. Jax needed almost 30 pitches to work out of the first inning (without allowing a run, mind you). He then breezed through the second and third innings. Unfortunately, he ran into trouble again in the fourth inning. He gave up four runs and then gave up two more in the fifth inning. 

While he walked three batters, Jax threw 58 of his 88 pitches for strikes (65.9%). After Derek Law tossed two scoreless innings, Danny Coulombe pitched a scoreless eighth frame. 

I think that Jax can find several positives from the first three innings, but he can (and presumably will) learn a lot from all five innings. It's also very likely that had the Twins been in a different place in the standings, Jax probably would have been removed earlier in the fourth inning. But, it's all about development, and Jax was able to do just that. 

Donaldson Leaves Game Early

Stop me if you've heard this before, Josh Donaldson was rounding first base on a hard smash when his looked as if he'd been shot in the back of the hamstring. Somehow, he continued to hobble toward second base and was safe with a double. Wisely, the Twins took him out of the game. It was later announced that Donaldson left with a tight hamstring. He was trying to remain in the game, and actually didn't look too bad.

However, it's a long season. That means two different things. First, there were rumors late this week about the Twins and Mets having "preliminary discussions" about Donaldson, so no sense in letting him get hurt further. Also, if he isn't traded, he does still have two years left on his contract (plus an option), so no sense in seeing him make it worse by trying to score from second on a possible two-out single. 

Larnach Launch 

The Twins faced a lefty in Danny Duffy on Saturday. It seems that Baldelli & Company are going with a rotation when the team faces southpaws. Two of the Max Kepler, Luis Arraez, Alex Kirilloff and Trevor Larnach group start versus lefties with the other two on the bench. It seems this playing time is spread fairly evenly. On this day, Trevor Larnach was not in the starting lineup. However, a series of events put Gilberto Celestino in right field, and when a right-handed reliever entered the game, Larnach was called on to pinch hit and play the rest of the game. He responded with a hard-hit single, and then hit a LONG home run in the eighth inning off of Greg Holland. It was his sixth home run on the season. 

Celestino Holding His Own

Before Larnach pinch-hit for him, Celestino was 1-for-2 with a double. He also threw out Hunter Dozier at the plate, showing off a strong arm.  

Since starting his MLB career by going 0-for-15, he is hitting .250 (7-for-28) with two doubles and two home runs. He has also played much better defense since the nervous blunders the first couple of games. Are those great numbers? Certainly not. But when we remember that he should be playing, arguably, in Double-A Wichita and has been pushed into big-league action before he was ready, it is encouraging for his future to see the adjustments he has made. And, as noted in the header, it's probably much more fun to play when you aren't just overwhelmed. 

Postgame Interview

 

Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet

  TUE WED THU FRI SAT TOT
Coulombe 43 0 0 16 7 66
Duffey 15 0 0 13 0 28
Thielbar 0 16 0 0 0 16
Robles 0 0 34 0 0 34
Law 0 0 32 0 34 66
Colomé 0 14 0 17 0 31
Rogers 0 0 0 22 0 22
Alcala 0 0 19 0 0 19
Jax 0 0 0 0 88 88 

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AAA pitching staff tossing for the Twins today.

Let me guess - Larnach's HR was with no one on.  I know it is a small sample size, just don't get this.  He hits very well with bases empty, but is one of the worst hitters in baseball with runners on.  Hopefully he "grows out" of this!

Here are those splits:

RISP:  .122 BA  .122SLG  .424OPS

Men on:   .162BA  .206SLG  .507OPS

Bases empty:  .321BA,  .580SLG,  .976OPS

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 I feel frustrated that Baldelli left Griffin Jax in way too long - well after he showed he was tiring. I’d say 5 or 6 hitters too long. He’s been doing this for 3 years. And it costs games. Shoemaker left in for 9 runs in the first, Martin Perez left in and beaten up for 8 runs early in a game in 2019. The list is very long. It pains me to say it but he just seems out of touch with in game pitcher management.

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I am starting to understand the Baldelli logic - take out Ober before he can get a win because he is young and we need to save his arm, leave in Jax too long because he is young and obviously his arm is fine???  Okay, then I read the Rocco quote - "

MNTwins skipper Rocco Baldelli: "We needed to tack on some more runs in the middle of that ball game."
 
What a concept.  Next he will tell us we need to score more than the other team to win. 
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Quote
#MNTwins skipper Rocco Baldelli: "We needed to tack on some more runs in the middle of that ball game."

Ya think?

While we're at it, try sprinkling a few on the late innings for good measure.

And for those of you keeping score at home, the last time this year's staff shut out an opponent was Cleveland, back on 21 May.

Right now, the Twins are food for the bottom feeders.  Can't laugh at the Tigers and Orioles any more.

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8 hours ago, strumdatjag said:

Another disappointing Twins game ended a few hours ago.  I find myself recording and fastforwarding through these games.  It’s 8:53 and I’m the first comment.  Says a lot about the Twins - it’s not you Seth. 

I dropped into the broadcast in the bottom of the third inning to get some air conditioning shelter from a BBQ with friends. Just in time for the Twins to take the lead and then Jax to cough it right back to the Royals. The Twins look cooked and like they're just going through the motions. It was nice to hear Kitty Kaat back, though. 

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I am watching this team as much as I can with 100% detachment. I really see very little to look forward to.  It’s too bad we decided to forgo fundamentals, because I could enjoy a well played baseball game.  I fully expect them to dismantle this team and start over.  Do it right next time! BTW, those guys totally ruined Sano.   Let him hire his own batting coach and do it his own way. He is so bad nobody would even take him for free on waivers. 

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How in tarnation can a team with Arraez, Cruz, Polanco, Kepler, Sano, and Josh Donaldson all getting regular ABs this season be this bad? They've all been healthy more than hurt by a long shot and I am sure several MLB teams would be thrilled to have that lineup. Yes: Twins pitching is terrible....but even so, the offense should be able to light up opposing pitchers regularly. The Twins should be winning ballgames 8-6, 10-7, 9-5 on the regular. They're not going up against DeGrom, Scherzer, or Trever Bauer - they're going up against Matthew Boyd, Dallas Keuchel and Danny Duffey.

This goes beyond the front office. It's a leadership problem and a clubhouse problem.

Rocco should get another crack at managing next season, but this year he's completely failed to motivate the troops. There have been several hot button moments this season and Rocco has been absent for all of them. Whether it was Simmons and the Covid-19 stuff, Buxton's freak injury, Colome's meltdowns, Donaldson's trash talking, that crazy A's game where Arraez threw the ball over Sano's head....those are opportunities for leaders to LEAD. Inspire. Preach. Call guys out. Coach guys up. To light a fire. Do something. Anything.

Rocco's approach, on the other hand, has been to quietly keep plodding along, sticking to a broken formula. And when you look at this team listlessly getting smacked around day-in and day-out, it's clear he hasn't done enough. Rocco Baldelli's lost the team, and now he's in charge of a ghost ship and he should shoulder much of the blame.

 

 

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Love the comment about Baldelli.  He needs to accept a good deal of blame for the very poor play.  He needs to throw his computer in the garbage and start managing!  Quit accepting this poor play and stop telling us they are trying and are playing hard.  We are not dumb.  We see bad baseball why can't Rocco?

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11 hours ago, Greglw3 said:

 I feel frustrated that Baldelli left Griffin Jax in way too long - well after he showed he was tiring. I’d say 5 or 6 hitters too long. He’s been doing this for 3 years. And it costs games. Shoemaker left in for 9 runs in the first, Martin Perez left in and beaten up for 8 runs early in a game in 2019. The list is very long. It pains me to say it but he just seems out of touch with in game pitcher management.

Normally, people complain the Rocco pulls starters far too soon.  Now it's because he leaves them in too long.  I'm beginning to think that a lot of people just don't like anything Rocco does.

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31 minutes ago, bighat said:

This goes beyond the front office. It's a leadership problem and a clubhouse problem.

Rocco should get another crack at managing next season, but this year he's completely failed to motivate the troops. There have been several hot button moments this season and Rocco has been absent for all of them. Whether it was Simmons and the Covid-19 stuff, Buxton's freak injury, Colome's meltdowns, Donaldson's trash talking, that crazy A's game where Arraez threw the ball over Sano's head....those are opportunities for leaders to LEAD. Inspire. Preach. Call guys out. Coach guys up. To light a fire. Do something. Anything.

Rocco's approach, on the other hand, has been to quietly keep plodding along, sticking to a broken formula. And when you look at this team listlessly getting smacked around day-in and day-out, it's clear he hasn't done enough. Rocco Baldelli's lost the team, and now he's in charge of a ghost ship and he should shoulder much of the blame.

 

 

I don't think Rocco has been great this season, but it doesn't seem like you're giving him any credit for things he has done well. For one, he had a touching perspective on Buxton's injury that you should read https://www.startribune.com/byron-buxton-rocco-baldelli-share-a-history-of-injury-setbacks/600070980/. Two, I really don't understand how calling guys out publicly would help make matters improve. If you think there's a clubhouse problem, something I don't see any evidence for, then does anyone think it would be better by Rocco tattling to the media? He seems to have a good rapport with the players and they handle things internally, I see no issue with that approach. I don't want to come across as a Rocco stan here, because I'm not, but some of these feel like unfair accusations.

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1 hour ago, strumdatjag said:

A totally different direction would have the Twins hire Doug Mientkiewicz as manager.  

Yes, how different would this team look? I thought Minky was going to be the next Twins manager until, well, you know. Love me some Jim Kaat in the booth though. Still one of my favorite people and baseball man with a mic.

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8 hours ago, TheBoofIsLoose said:

I don't think Rocco has been great this season, but it doesn't seem like you're giving him any credit for things he has done well. For one, he had a touching perspective on Buxton's injury that you should read https://www.startribune.com/byron-buxton-rocco-baldelli-share-a-history-of-injury-setbacks/600070980/. Two, I really don't understand how calling guys out publicly would help make matters improve. If you think there's a clubhouse problem, something I don't see any evidence for, then does anyone think it would be better by Rocco tattling to the media? He seems to have a good rapport with the players and they handle things internally, I see no issue with that approach. I don't want to come across as a Rocco stan here, because I'm not, but some of these feel like unfair accusations.

Some sports fans just bask in the belief they know more than the people in charge.  If he is doing his job correctly, we will never know what goes on out of the public eye.  I have no idea if he is doing a good job on a number of issues.  I also have no idea if he is doing a good job. 

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22 minutes ago, AceWrigley said:

Yes, how different would this team look? I thought Minky was going to be the next Twins manager until, well, you know. Love me some Jim Kaat in the booth though. Still one of my favorite people and baseball man with a mic.

Jim Kaat was the sole highlight from this game. Even Dick Bremer had a hard time generating any enthusiasm.

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