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Game Score: Twins 5, Cleveland 4

Captain Jax battles defensive miscues and the bullpen gets the Twins to another Jorge Polanco walk-off hit for the win in extras.

Box Score
Starter: Griffin Jax 6.0 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 3 K
Home Runs: Max Kepler (16), Ryan Jeffers (11)
Top 3 WPA: Thielbar (.486), Polanco(.241), Colome (.144)
Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs)


In case you missed it, the Twins have been pretty good as of late. They have won a series against three first-place teams in the last week and carrying a record of 7-3 in their previous ten games. Tonight’s starter, Griffin Jax, also had himself a great outing on August 10th against the White Sox, going 6.0 innings with ten strikeouts and three earned runs. 

With Cleveland coming to town Monday night, the hope for the Twins would be that they could carry all those good fortunes into the new week as they play a rare series against another non-competitive team. The game did start on the right foot for the Twins. 

After a scoreless first by Jax, Max Kepler led off the Twins half of the 1st with a home run off of Cal Quantrill to put the Twins up 1-0 early. Kepler would also make a tremendous foul territory catch in the 3rd over some fans and finish the game going 1- with a walk and an RBI on a fielder’s choice on the weirdest 6-4 putout ever. 

By the second inning, some of those good vibes started to wear off. If there was one thing in Jax’s last outing that was a negative, it was the two home runs he surrendered. It was a home run that would get Jax in Monday night’s game as well. After giving up a walk to Franmil Reyes, Bradley Zimmer smashed a 446-foot no-doubter to center field, putting Cleveland up 2-1. 

Polanco ties the game with his wheels
After reaching on a fielder’s choice, Polanco was standing on first with two outs in the third inning. Josh Donaldson was the next batter and just blooped a single into right-center field. Everything looked pretty routine until Polanco rounded third and blew through Tony Diaz’s somewhat casual stop sign.

Something about the play even caused Cleveland’s defense to be somewhat lulled into a daze, allowing Polanco to score and tie up the game 2-2 on a play that results typically in him still standing at third base at its conclusion. 

Twins Out Run Defensive Miscues, Until They Didn’t
While Jax didn’t pitch with the strikeout dominance, he did last week. He still did well to pitch around a lot of defensive miscues. Beginning with the second inning, the Twins had three consecutive innings with defensive miscues that extended the inning. 

The fifth inning included another miscue that didn’t extend the inning but allowed Ahmed Rosario to take an extra-base as Jake Cave overran a ball in the outfield that turned a double into a triple. Rosario would score on a single by the next batter, Jose Ramirez. 

The sixth inning brought another one of those inning extending plays as Andrelton Simmons committed an error trying to pick up a grounder to short. This miscue led to an Andres Gimenez walk and then a single down the left-field line by Austin Hedges to bring Gimenez to the plate and give Cleveland a 4-3 lead. 

Jeffers To The Rescue
After allowing Cleveland to go ahead in the top part of the inning, Ryan Jeffers didn’t want to leave his pitcher hanging out there with the chance of getting the “L.” Jeffers took a Justin Garza pitch and relocated it to the other side of the outfield fence. 

Another One for Jorge
If the Twins were going to walk off this game, it seemed only fitting that it would be Jorge Polanco once again. After a deflating double play masterfully put together by Cleveland's Ramirez, Polanco ended the game by driving home Kepler. 

Sound off in the comments about the win, and get ready for another game tomorrow night! The Twins will look to keep the winning ways going tomorrow, with Bailey Ober slated to take the mound against Cleveland's Eli Morgan. 

Postgame Interview 

Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet

Barnes 0 0 0 73 0 73
Gant 0 41 0 0 17 58
García 0 27 0 21 0 48
Vincent 0 37 0 0 0 37
Thielbar 0 0 0 15 19 34
Duffey 0 0 0 27 0 27
Colomé 0 0 0 13 10 23
Minaya 0 0 0 0 19 19
Garza Jr. 0 0 16 0 0 16
Coulombe 0 0 10 0 0 10


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Great to see Polanco pick the team up with his walk-off hit after the deflating GIDP from Refsnyder.  Can't see I watched the entire game---I haven't watched much since the April 21st fiasco in Oakland--but nice to see the improved play over the last 2 weeks after a miserable start after the ASB.  

Jax didn't have his best command and defense was atrocious, but he along with bullpen was able to keep the deficit to less than multiple runs.  Not sure how others feel about Gant as a viable bullpen option next season, but he turned in his 5th scoreless outing (of 7 games) since being acquired from STL.  Also a strong outing from Minaya---his 5th straight shutout game this month.

With so many upcoming decisions about who is and isn't protected on the 40-man roster going into next season, its been nice to see Gant and Minaya with these recent strong performances.

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Credit where it's due: this team is finding ways to win the past couple of weeks. Unfortunately it was the opposite for the first 3 months of the season. Twins are still a ways from respectability, but it's nice to see them trending in the right direction.

Polanco is the team MVP and it's not close, great to see both Polanco and Donaldson step up the past few weeks. Maybe Cruz' departure has opened up a spot for Donaldson to be the veteran leader of the team, he definitely seems more emotionally engaged lately.

Jeffers has come around. Kepler's seemed to turn the corner. Sano's in a little bit of a groove. Garver is playing very well.

OK Jax, keep doing what you are doing. Amazing to see the Twins on this little mini-run with Barnes, Ober, and Jax in the rotation. Whatever works.

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I didn’t watch the game, but looking at Jax’s stat line reminds me a little of Carlos Silva back in the day. I would be more than satisfied if Jax had a career like his (I’m sure Jax would be happy with it too).

There’s no doubt Polanco is the leader of the team right now. He’s coming into his own as a veteran after some rough patches earlier in his career. The guy is a ball player. It’s in his blood. 

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Awesome streak.  Glad they are finally showing something positive  where have they been the past three months?  Remember in April with a relatively full team they went 9-15.  That was with Buxton player of the month.  Remember also how Twins and media "experts" chastised Twins fans for being negative?  Remember the cry it's still early?  I think those games counted in the standings.  You wouldn't have known it then the way we were told to wait.  They gave us 2 weeks of good baseball.

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There are openings in the rotation, and some of these young guys are absolutely stepping up and claiming them. There are openings in the bullpen, snd some of these second-chance veterans are doing the same. There was an opening for a leadoff hitter - Kepler is claiming it. There's need for a DH - Jeffers and Rooker and upping their game. There was an opening for team leader - Polanco is making it his. This is all so much fun to see - a bit of assertiveness in these guys that says, "this spot on this team - this spot is mine."

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Jax just keeps doing his thing and he still looks good out there.  He didn't get many K's last night but he made it 6 innings which is something that seems hard for our pitchers to do.  The pen has been good and holding their own.  Amazing what can happen when we pitch better.  Just happy to see Jax continue to perform well would be nice to have some of these young guys succeed.

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1 hour ago, Dman said:

Jax just keeps doing his thing and he still looks good out there.  He didn't get many K's last night but he made it 6 innings which is something that seems hard for our pitchers to do.  The pen has been good and holding their own.  Amazing what can happen when we pitch better.  Just happy to see Jax continue to perform well would be nice to have some of these young guys succeed.

Not only did he make it to 6 innings ... but he pitched through errors that cost runs ... and still held his cool. Other pitchers might let that get to them. I was impressed with his overall performance last night, but especially the composure.

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Kudos to Jax for not imploding when the D (including his own gaffes) didn't come through on several occasions.

Also, kudos to Rocco (oh my god, I'm complementing him) for letting Jax work through all the messes.  This part of this season is perfect for that type of development.  And, hey, Polanco came through and the Twins won anyway!

11 hours ago, Monticore said:

Simmons should be sat down.

I agree.  He seems to be going through the motions.  I don't have a lot of faith in Polanco or Gordon at SS full-time, but they can still get reps to be able to hold their own as backups at the spot going forward.

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Simmons error allowed the run that tied the game; Simmons hustle and throw prevented the run that would have cost the Twins the game,

His defense is still far, far above anyone else that could play there.

Polanco is thriving in bad season; I really wonder how some others on the team would be performing if the Twins were in contention.

In my opinion also, I think Cruz's performance for the Rays is not what it was as he would rather be here, that there, regardless of Twins record.

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Such a confounding team. If they'd played like this in April, they might still be relevant this season.

I'm not all that bothered by Simmons continuing to get run out there at SS; even with the error tonight he's easily the best defender we have for the spot and that's going to be helpful for young pitchers to have back there. I don't think anyone outside of a few people on this board see Nick Gordon as being an MLB-quality defender at SS, so what's the option? Throw JT Riddle out there? Call up Palacios from AA? And there is the issue of what cutting bait on a veteran can do to you when trying to sign guys in free agency. Burn too many agents and suddenly that veteran you need to fill a roster hole gets steered elsewhere. It's not like Simmons is unplayable (i.e., Shoemaker): he's just bad at the plate, generally good in the field.

Jax is battling his way through, but the margins are tight on him. He'll pound the zone enough that he generally won't beat himself, but the HR/9 is unsustainable. He's currently tied with Dobnak (who was having a dreadful season) for the worst HR/9 of any Twins starter this season, and it's the worst of any twins pitcher who's thrown more than 10 innings. Got to keep it in the park or he's not going to hold a spot in the rotation for long.

nice to see kepler finding his stroke again; he was very good in July and has been very good again in Aug. Must be finally feeling healthy? he's not an ideal leadoff man, but he's been taking good ABs lately, drawing walks again, and flashing that power stroke, so it's not a terrible idea.

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16 hours ago, jun said:

Gant, Minaya, Gordon and Thielbar deserve to be protected on the 40-man roster. I am not interested in seeing Refsnyder, Smeltzer, Cave and Simmons in Twins uniform.

Assuming that Larnach, Buxton and Kepler are all 3 starting OFers next year---------who is our 4th OFer going into 2022 with both Cave and Refsnyder gone?  Just asking.

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2 hours ago, darwin22 said:

Assuming that Larnach, Buxton and Kepler are all 3 starting OFers next year---------who is our 4th OFer going into 2022 with both Cave and Refsnyder gone?  Just asking.

Larnach will not be there.

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