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Charlie Barnes's third start was the best of his career. Caleb Thielbar came in and got some huge outs after the middle relief coughed up the lead, but as they had all day, Max Kepler and Jorge Polanco came up clutch in the bottom of the ninth. 

Box Score (add link)
SP: Charlie Barnes: 5.0 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 3 K (73 pitches, 44 strikes (60.3%))
Home Runs: None 
Top 3 WPA: Max Kepler (.327), Caleb Thielbar (.232), Charlie Barnes (.200)

Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs)

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Patience is a Virtue
Luis Patino was the key piece the Rays received in return for former Cy Young winner Blake Snell from the Padres in the offseason. A top pitching prospect, he has certainly shown well for the Rays in 2020. Fortunately for the Twins, he was a bit wild on Sunday and the team took advantage. 

Patino walked Max Kepler and Jorge Polanco in the first inning, and Josh Donaldon singled in Kepler for the game’s first run. After a walk to Luis Arraez, Polanco scored on a Trevor Larnach fielder’s choice. The Twins went scoreless in the second innings, although Kepler had a double and Polanco walked again. There was one more walk in the third inning. 

Ryan Sherriff came on in the fourth inning. After getting the first two batters out, Kepler and Polanco walked. All Star Andrew Kittredge came on and Donaldson came through again with a big, two-run double to give the Twins a 4-0 lead. 

Barnes at his Best

Lefty Charlie Barnes made his third MLB start on Sunday afternoon, and it’s fair to say that it was his best start to date. The southpaw was generally in control of the game for five innings. He gave up just three hits and only allowed one run, on a solo homer off the bat of Mike Zunino. 

Overall, his strike percentage was not real good, but instead of just missing over the middle of the plate, he was missing just outside the strike zone. This is definitely a start to build on. 

Middle Relief Struggles 

Edgar Garcia came on for the sixth inning. He quickly got the first two outs of the inning, but then issued a walk and a home run off to star rookie Wander Franco. That cut the Twins lead to 4-3. 

Tyler Duffey got the 7th inning. He started the inning with a walk. Then after a pop-out, he coaxed a potential ground ball double play. However, due to an error, no outs were recorded. Duffey walked another batter to load the bases. Randy Arozarena hit a little infield single to tie the game at four. Duffey did come up big by striking out Nelson Cruz, but bases were still loaded with one out yet to get. 

Clutch Caleb (Thielbar)

Caleb Thielbar came in and, after falling behind 3-0, got All Star Austin Meadows to pop out to end the inning. He has now stranded his last seven inherited runners, a streak that began on June 21. 

With the game still tied in the top of the eight, Thielbar gave up a leadoff double to Franco. However, after a sacrifice bunt moved Franco to third, Thielbar got an infield pop out and a ground out to first base to keep the game tied. 

When you take a look below at the names available to Rocco Baldelli and Wes Johnson in the chart below, is Thielbar the team’s best, most-reliable bullpen arm right now? 

Well, another option for that title right now might be Alexander Colome who pitched a scoreless inning in the ninth. It was his eighth straight scoreless appearance. In that stretch (7 1/3 innings), he is 1-0 with five saves. 

Klutch Kepler (and Polanco)

Max Kepler reached base four times on Sunday. As mentioned above, he walked twice. He also had two doubles including an opposite-field double down the left field line to lead off the ninth inning. Bobbled by Austin Meadows, Kepler scampered to third base. 

Two pitches later, Jorge Polanco hit a fly ball deep enough to easily score Kepler from third and give the Twins the 5-4 win, and a third-straight series win. It was his fifth career walk-off plate appearance and third this season. 

The Twins are clearly playing their best baseball of the season as they have reached arguably the toughest part of their season. 

Postgame Interview

 

Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet

  WED THU FRI SAT SUN TOT
Barnes 0 0 0 0 73 73
García 0 0 27 0 21 48
Gant 0 0 41 0 0 41
Vincent 0 0 37 0 0 37
Colomé 14 0 0 0 13 27
Thielbar 20 0 0 0 15 35
Garza Jr. 0 0 0 16 0 16
Duffey 0 0 0 0 27 27
Minaya 15 0 0 0 0 15
Coulombe 0 0 0 10 0 10

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Fun Fact from today's postgame notes: 

JT Chargois appeared in his first game at Target Field since September 23, 2016, when he was a member of the Twins. In that outing, he faced only one batter and threw only one pitch. It was hit for a two-rn double by Nelson Cruz, who played for Seattle at that time. 

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Uggh. This makes me so optimistic for next year with nothing concrete to point to. I do think we did really well with our trades, but we need to start producing something more than corner outfield lefty hitters. There are a lot more player types, and we need a few of them. As mentioned above, Kepler's energy was a good sign coupled with Polanco having another good day

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1 hour ago, Brock Beauchamp said:

Too little too late but watching winning baseball is always better than watching the other kind of baseball. 

100% - In a year like this we all like to see young players develop, and new pitchers test out their stuff, but in the end it's always so much more fun when the team gets a W. It's been a nice 1.5 weeks of Twins baseball.

 

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49 minutes ago, denarded said:

Uggh. This makes me so optimistic for next year with nothing concrete to point to.

I'm very intentionally not allowing this to happen. While I think one of Jax, Barnes, Ober may work out... I certainly do not believe all of them will continue to pitch as they have for the past couple of weeks.

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2 hours ago, LastOnePicked said:

What ... is ... happening?

I talked trash about this team for two weeks, and they come out play like this? After Cruz is traded?

Baseball is confusing. And glorious. But mostly confusing.

Very true, but when you combine some timely hitting with RISP with decent outings from your SPs and then add in some effective relief outings---the opportunities to come out with W's---increase dramatically.  Only downer of the day would be JIm Kaat's last day as an analyst.

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2 hours ago, darwin22 said:

Very true, but when you combine some timely hitting with RISP with decent outings from your SPs and then add in some effective relief outings---the opportunities to come out with W's---increase dramatically.  Only downer of the day would be JIm Kaat's last day as an analyst.

I only popped in and out of the broadcast. Was today Kaat's last day?

I feel both sad and satisfied to hear that. Kaat is a good analyst but he's getting up there in age and the game has changed a lot. I'm sad to see him go but understand why it's time. It's nowhere near a Blyleven situation where I'm ready to tell him about doors hitting and asses and ways out. I genuinely like Kaat and think he does a pretty good job but the game is shifting and he has become more stodgy about it every year.

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If only we could have played like this all year.  It makes you wonder if Happ and Shoemaker would have not been signed or made the team if our season would have been different.  Not saying the young guys would have been MLB ready out the gate, but we sent the two of them out wayyyyyy too much early in the season.  

We only 16 games back now, if Buck comes back and plays like he did in April, we can go on a tear and catch the Sox.  Lets do it.  It would be greatest comeback ever, but not by much.  Only a few games.  I really doubt we will, but could be a fun end of season if we just go on a tear. 

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Gotta love the recent Twins surge.  Too bad you don't get a pennant for playing well for one and half weeks lol.  I am curious as to why Baldelli  " rested"  Rooker after he went  went 6 for 9 in his previous 2 games. I'm sure it added a lot of confidence to Rooker.  Or the other day when he pinch hit for the Turtle after he had hit a home run.  What kind of sense is that?

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Is it possible that Alex Colome might be a realistic piece of the 2022 bullpen?  Since July 1st, he has pitched 16 innings, given up 11 hits and 5 walks (only one in August) for a WHIP of 1.00.  He has given up 4 earned runs (none in August) for an ERA of 2.25 and struck out 11.  Of the 11 hits, only 5 were for extra bases and he's allowed no extra base hits since July 21.  If he performs like this for the rest of 2021, I would think he might be a strong option to bring back.

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53 minutes ago, terrydactyls said:

Is it possible that Alex Colome might be a realistic piece of the 2022 bullpen?  Since July 1st, he has pitched 16 innings, given up 11 hits and 5 walks (only one in August) for a WHIP of 1.00.  He has given up 4 earned runs (none in August) for an ERA of 2.25 and struck out 11.  Of the 11 hits, only 5 were for extra bases and he's allowed no extra base hits since July 21.  If he performs like this for the rest of 2021, I would think he might be a strong option to bring back.

Scientists do not yet have instruments delicate enough to measure the shortness of the leash I'd want him on, but sure.

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Winning is always more fun! Doesn't matter how or when. Don't think anyone would have bet Twins would win those last 3 series...and look pretty decent doing it too.

Will the real Max Kepler please stand up? He has been SO inconsistent this season. When he's 'on'...he is a great asset. I suppose you could say the same of Donaldson too. Twins could still catch Cleveland if they blow them out this week. What does that matter? It would matter that this current collection still likes to play together. I'm not a fan of worrying about a higher draft pick. The talent pool is huge...with tons more misses than hits. Colome is finally earning his paycheck. Is it too late for him? No--no closer likes to lose so its nice to see him bearing down.

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3 hours ago, terrydactyls said:

Is it possible that Alex Colome might be a realistic piece of the 2022 bullpen?  Since July 1st, he has pitched 16 innings, given up 11 hits and 5 walks (only one in August) for a WHIP of 1.00.  He has given up 4 earned runs (none in August) for an ERA of 2.25 and struck out 11.  Of the 11 hits, only 5 were for extra bases and he's allowed no extra base hits since July 21.  If he performs like this for the rest of 2021, I would think he might be a strong option to bring back.

Sorry,  I just have no faith in him.  I cringe every time  they show him warming up in the pen.

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9 hours ago, Whitey333 said:

Gotta love the recent Twins surge.  Too bad you don't get a pennant for playing well for one and half weeks lol.  I am curious as to why Baldelli  " rested"  Rooker after he went  went 6 for 9 in his previous 2 games. I'm sure it added a lot of confidence to Rooker.  Or the other day when he pinch hit for the Turtle after he had hit a home run.  What kind of sense is that?

Would be interesting to hear what response Baldelli would have to both of those questions. Kaat did mention  Rooker's absence, but in a non-critical manner. Saying that he did state that that would never have happened during his playing days.  Im sure our "Minnesota nice media" wouldnt have the cajones to ask that question directly to Baldelli.  

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