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Minnesota took an early lead on a Josh Donaldson first-inning home run. Andrew Albers delivered five-plus scoreless innings, and the bullpen was lights out, helping the Twins shut out the Brewers in game one of the Border Battle.

Box Score
Andrew Albers: 5.1 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K
Home Runs: Donaldson (20)
Top 3 WPA: Albers .306, Donaldson .177, Coulombe .080
Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs)
chart.png.33b2d3d52b400741a9e8393fd14664e9.png

Before either team even took the field, two special stories were already on display. First, third baseman Eduardo Escobar, now with the Brewers, made his first visit to Target Field as an opposing player since he was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2018. He got a warm welcome from Twins fans!

The other story, the most important one, was also about a player’s return. After spending over two months on the injured list recovering from a hand fracture caused by a hit-by-pitch, Byron Buxton was activated by the Twins roughly an hour before the game. He took the leadoff spot in Rocco Baldelli’s lineup, starting what might be a crucial stretch for his continuity as a Twin.

While Buxton’s first plate appearance in the majors since Jun. 22 was unimpressive, with a three-pitch strikeout, that didn’t mean Minnesota’s offense wasn’t going to make some noise early. With two outs in the first, Rob Refsnyder singled, reaching with a head-first slide. Josh Donaldson hit a line drive home run to left in the following at-bat, giving the Twins a 2-0 lead. This was Donaldson’s fourth home run in the last six games.

Even though they came out of the second inning empty-handed, the Twins offense kept Brewers starter Eric Lauer on the ropes. They loaded the bases with only one out and suddenly had the chance to blow this game wide open. One of those runners was Buxton himself, who worked a five-pitch walk after getting ahead in the count with 3-0. Refsnyder hit a ground ball to left that would’ve cleared the bases had it stayed fair. But it landed inches into foul territory, and he ended up being struck out briefly after that to end the inning.

Albers picks up where he left off
Meanwhile, Andrew Albers began putting together a nice start. Over a week after his relief appearance in New York, where he provided four innings of one-run ball, he dominated Milwaukee’s lineup the first time through the order. He retired nine of his first 11 batters faced, pitching three shutout innings on 41 pitches.

He pitched himself into a jam during the fourth inning. After allowing only one hit through three, he gave up two and hit a batter, loading the bases. But he managed to induce weak enough contact to get out of it. In fact, this is what he was able to do a lot tonight. His stuff wasn’t electric, but everything was well located, causing Brewers batters to ground out multiple times. With an arsenal of five pitches, very few of them were not thrown for a strike. According to Statcast, he didn’t give up a single barrel during this outing.

After a shaky fourth inning, he returned to pitch a 1-2-3 fifth and retired one batter in the sixth before being removed from the game. Jorge Alcala, also making his return to the team from the IL, came in in his relief and finished off the Brewers on ten pitches.

Offense quiets down, but the bullpen is lights out
Minnesota didn’t get a lot done on offense for the remainder of the game. The only time they could pose a threat was during the sixth inning when Buxton had men in the corners with two outs. Kirk Cousins’ cousin, Jake, painted the inside part of the strike zone to strike him out.

Fortunately for the Twins, their bullpen was lights out. Jorge Alcala and Danny Coulombe held the Brewers scoreless until the eighth before Tyler Duffey came in to get the final out of the inning. Duffey, in fact, caught a huge break with a slow curveball out of the zone that was called for a strike – framed brilliantly by Ryan Jeffers. But on the previous pitch, a pitch that painted the lower corner of the zone and got called for a ball should’ve ended the inning.

Alexander Colomé pitched the ninth inning, looking to bounce back from his previous two disastrous outings. This time, he was able to retire the side on only 13 pitches (10 strikes) to earn his eighth save of the year.

Postgame Interviews

 

Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet

  SAT TUE WED THU FRI TOT
Albers 0 0 0 0 88 88
Garza Jr. 31 0 24 4 0 59
Coulombe 0 0 19 0 20 39
Thielbar 0 14 22 0 0 36
Duffey 0 19 9 0 6 34
Colomé 0 0 20 0 13 33
Minaya 0 30 0 0 0 30
Gibaut 0 23 0 0 0 23
Alcalá 0 0 0 0 12 12
Barnes 0 0 0 0 0 0

 


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Happy to see the Twins beat a good team and especially one from Sconnie, haha. That said, it's a bummer Escobar is sidelined on the IL with a pulled hamstring. Actually, considering how he plays, it was a good thing for the Twins he wasn't on the field.

Nice game from Albers. Not entirely sure what the Twins have planned for him. It makes me a little nervous they could be planning to replace Pineda with him.

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I'm sure we all wish that this great pitching performance came from a younger member of the guys auditioning for pitching spots next year, but ya gotta be happy for Andrew Albers.

Quite the journey indeed and good for him. He's got to feel good about his abilities and hopefully he'll continue to play in the bigs for a couple years somewhere filling in as a spot-starter here and there. Crafty lefties who can eat innings can make a living at this level. I'm sure he's got some great stories to tell, he's a grinder. Made millions in Japan, so he's got nothing to lose. Gotta be on Cloud Nine right about now.

 

 

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The pitch that was " 6 inches " off the plate was an obvious make up call for the previous one that was strike 3 but called a ball.  Absolutely horrible umpiring.  During the game Brewers got benefit of more calls from home plate umpire than Twins.  The bigger question is where were the Brewers?  They will probably show up both Saturday and Sunday and dominate Twins.

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On MLB radio yesterday, the commentators were talking about a National League umpire who worked Wednesday night.  His game was reviewed by the league and he correctly called 125 of 126 non-swing pitches.  The one he incorrectly called missed the strike zone by less than an inch.  Do they train NL umpires differently?  

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2 - 0.  I liked it.  Good ball playing.  The one thing I would like to see next game is Buxton starting a streak again.  He had enough time in the minors to get timing, now he needs to produce for both the team and the contracts he is dreaming of.  

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9 hours ago, USAFChief said:
  10 hours ago, Rosterman said

Gonna have to find room for this guy on the 40-man, I guess.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

No.

Yes!

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Congratulations to Andrew Albers, I'm happy he finally received another shot at playing in Major League Baseball.

If they want to keep him around for a little bit, I guess that's fine. They can remove Gant and Barnes from the rotation and put in players with a future in an MLB rotation.

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8 hours ago, bean5302 said:

Nice game from Albers. Not entirely sure what the Twins have planned for him. It makes me a little nervous they could be planning to replace Pineda with him.

I'm like 99.9% sure they have a plan for Albers... Let him eat some innings this season because he's got a rubber arm. Maybe make some starts if needed, but mostly be able to be a long reliever, provide some innings so they can take care of the arms that they have hopes for in 2022. He'll be DFAd at season's end, and hopefully they can sign him to another minor league deal for next year. But no, they aren't going to plan on him being in the rotation. 

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1 hour ago, terrydactyls said:

On MLB radio yesterday, the commentators were talking about a National League umpire who worked Wednesday night.  His game was reviewed by the league and he correctly called 125 of 126 non-swing pitches.  The one he incorrectly called missed the strike zone by less than an inch.  Do they train NL umpires differently?  

There aren't American League or National League umpires anymore. Haven't been for 20 years or more. They're all trained the same. 

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2 minutes ago, Seth Stohs said:

I'm like 99.9% sure they have a plan for Albers... Let him eat some innings this season because he's got a rubber arm. Maybe make some starts if needed, but mostly be able to be a long reliever, provide some innings so they can take care of the arms that they have hopes for in 2022. He'll be DFAd at season's end, and hopefully they can sign him to another minor league deal for next year. But no, they aren't going to plan on him being in the rotation. 

I'm not opposed to keeping Albers into next season as a swing man at low cost if he pitches well. I just don't want to see him slotted into the regular rotation as a direct replacement for an outgoing pitcher.

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3 minutes ago, bean5302 said:

I'm not opposed to keeping Albers into next season as a swing man at low cost if he pitches well. I just don't want to see him slotted into the regular rotation as a direct replacement for an outgoing pitcher.

Odds of that happening are approximately 0.00000215%... 

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1 hour ago, bean5302 said:

I'm not opposed to keeping Albers into next season as a swing man at low cost if he pitches well. I just don't want to see him slotted into the regular rotation as a direct replacement for an outgoing pitcher.

Agreed but that means Barnes and/or Smeltzer need to go. I don't care which of them they keep but having three soft-tossing lefties is a waste of roster space. Keep one, two at most.

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In 2013, I felt the Twins did not give Albers a fair shake simply because he came out of the independent leagues.  His minor league numbers were OK, his major league numbers up to that point were OK.  He was no ace, but who cares, and the Twins were in no position back then to toss a capable pitcher to the side.  If someone is working out, keep it going.  There is no one magical formula for success.

Although his chances in the majors were few and far between since, he still put up quality numbers in the minors.  I am as surprised as anyone to see him back.  I'm surprised-not-surprised he is doing well.  But this brings up the same question it brings up all too often in Twinsland -- what the heck were the Twins thinking?

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1 hour ago, Dodecahedron said:

In 2013, I felt the Twins did not give Albers a fair shake simply because he came out of the independent leagues.  His minor league numbers were OK, his major league numbers up to that point were OK.  He was no ace, but who cares, and the Twins were in no position back then to toss a capable pitcher to the side.  If someone is working out, keep it going.  There is no one magical formula for success.

Although his chances in the majors were few and far between since, he still put up quality numbers in the minors.  I am as surprised as anyone to see him back.  I'm surprised-not-surprised he is doing well.  But this brings up the same question it brings up all too often in Twinsland -- what the heck were the Twins thinking?

Every team in baseball had multiple shots at Andrew Albers and none took the plunge. He had to go to the KBO *and* NPB, for crying out loud.

At that point, it becomes quite clear what the Twins were thinking. They were thinking the exact same thing all 30 MLB teams thought: Andrew Albers is not a very good pitcher. 

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1 hour ago, Dodecahedron said:

what the heck were the Twins thinking?

Pitchers with the lack of stuff will not have sustained success in the majors? Or a guy who can't hit 90 mph with a tailwind isn't long for this world? Unless their name is Jamie Moyer.

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Meanwhile, as the calendar is nearly into September and a bunch of teams (not us) are fighting for post season spots...I have noticed that Berrios has not exactly lit the lights for Toronto. After a brilliant first game and a tough extra inning loss, he has not looked good at all. In fact he has looked the way we have seen him for his whole career. Some patches of brilliance and a bunch of very ineffective innings. Inconsistency seems to follow him around;

Nellie has 20 RBI and 7 HR's in 26 games with the Rays. His BA is not good. And if you dig a bit you will see that a lot of those RBI and HR's came against the beer league Orioles. IS this possibly end of season fatigue like we saw last year? He says he wants to play next year. I wonder with whom?? If the NL adopts the DH, the field will be pretty open. I don't see the Twins making an offer anymore.

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23 hours ago, Brock Beauchamp said:

Every team in baseball had multiple shots at Andrew Albers and none took the plunge. He had to go to the KBO *and* NPB, for crying out loud.

At that point, it becomes quite clear what the Twins were thinking. They were thinking the exact same thing all 30 MLB teams thought: Andrew Albers is not a very good pitcher. 

Yes, a response like this was predictable.  What I said before, and can say again, is that the Twins could have ridden him while he was still serviceable and let him go at a better time.  The Twins had no one better at the time.  Thus, "What were they thinking?"

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