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Twins 12, Guardians 8: Bats Put Together a Nine-Run Inning, Snap Losing Streak


Thiéres Rabelo
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After a slow start, the Twins offense exploded in the fifth inning and put the game out of reach. Minnesota scored more runs in this game than they did in their last six games and they snap a three-game losing streak.

Box Score
Starting Pitcher: Sonny Gray, 4.1 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 8 K (82 pitches, 46 strikes, 56.1%)
Home Runs: Byron Buxton (10), Jorge Polanco (4), Gary Sánchez (2), Royce Lewis (1)
Top 3 WPA: Gary Sánchez (.178), Royce Lewis (.155), Byron Buxton (.123)
Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs)
chart.png.cf1bacc4ab7d21c8e0eb90515d97fedb.png

Gray is off to a good start, but can't go to distance
The big story of tonight’s game was whether or not the Twins would get a decent start from their starting pitcher. The last time a Twins starter threw more than four innings in a game was exactly a week ago when Josh Winder delivered six innings with no earned runs against the A’s. Would Sonny Gray be up for the task?

But that wasn’t the only question mark regarding the Twins coming into this game. Minnesota’s offense, full of ups and downs this season, produced a grand total of three runs during the three games against Houston, being shut out in two of those games. Would they be able to turn things around?

Despite facing Aaron Civale, who has a career 3.31 ERA against Minnesota, the offense managed to be productive from the get-go. Byron Buxton and Jorge Polanco hit a couple of solo shots in the bottom of first, giving the Twins an early two-run lead. Things could’ve been even better, as Max Kepler and Gary Sánchez got back-to-back hits and moved into scoring position, but Minnesota couldn’t add on.

Gray pitched around a leadoff walk in the first, then pitched an easy, 12-pitch second, with two punch outs. However, he oddly had a troublesome third, loading the bases before recording an out, including a couple of walks. Fortunately, he was able to keep the damage to a minimum, with Cleveland scoring only the one run on a force out. Gray struck out a couple more batters in that inning. Civale settle down and started to dominate the Twins lineup. After the Sánchez double in the first, Minnesota’s batters went 0-for-11 and failed to provide Gray with some run support.

After a scoreless fourth with a couple more strikeouts, Gray became the first Twin starter to pitch into the fifth in the past seven days. But he wouldn’t go to distance. He gave up a leadoff home run to Austin Hedges and shortly after that, a walk and a single, which was enough for Rocco Baldelli to pull him from the game. Griffin Jax came into the game and induced an inning-ending double play on two pitches, to end the threat.

The offense gets back on track, turns the game into a blowout
Another short start, a cold offense, and a tied ball game. All the ingredients that might have led Twins fans to brace themselves for the worst. Little did they know that they were in for a treat: the Twins lineup put together a nine-run fifth inning on seven pitches and put this game out of reach.

First, Civale loaded the bases by giving up a leadoff single to Ryan Jeffers, a double to Royce Lewis, and a walk to Buxton. Minnesota scored two of those runners on a Luis Arráez groundout and a Max Kepler single to left. Polanco had drawn a walk in between and, with two men on, Civale’s night was done.

With Kepler and Polanco on, and Bryan Shaw pitching, Sánchez definitely put the slump behind him by smashing a three-run home run to deep center, making it 7-2 Twins. But they were surely not done. The bases were once again loaded for the Twins, as Shaw gave up back-to-back singles, to Gio Urshela and Nick Gordon, and a walk to Jeffers. Still chasing his first big league home run, Lewis destroyed a cutter in the heart of the plate for a huge grand slam, making it 11-2 Minnesota.

It was impressive to see how much the Twins improved with men in scoring position in this game, compared to the Houston series. They finished the game hitting 3-for-7 with RISP.

Jax has his toughest outing so far, Smith bails him out
When he was brought into this game, Jax hadn’t given up any runs in his previous six outings and was posting a stellar 1.35 ERA through eight appearances. After inducing an inning-ending double play to get out of an inherited jam, he simply wasn’t sharp in the following two innings.

Franmil Reyes singled off him in the sixth, shortly before Oscar Mercado hit a two-out, two-run bomb to bring the Guardians within seven. In the seventh, things were even worse, as he struggled badly with his command, allowing Cleveland to score a couple more runs on a single by José Ramírez and a triple by Amed Rosario, making it 11-6.

Jax gave up back-to-back walks to load the bases with two outs, causing Baldelli to remove him from the game. Joe Smith took over and struck out Mercado on four pitches, ending the threat. Smith has now stranded 11 inherited runners so far this season – every single one he’s inherited in the year.

In the bottom of the eighth, Buxton drew a leadoff walk and the Twins managed to manufacture a run, with Kepler pushing Buxton across with a sac-fly. Emilio Pagán had a flashy six-run lead when he took the mound in the ninth, but he gave up a two-out, two-run home run to Andrés Giménez, before he struck out Mercado to avoid a Cleveland rally.

What’s Next?
Tomorrow at 6:10 pm CDT both teams are back on the field for game 2. Cleveland will have Shane Bieber (4.13 ERA) start for them, whereas the Twins will call up Devin Smeltzer to make his season debut.

Postgame Interview

Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet

  MON TUE WED THU FRI TOT
             
Cotton 0 58 0 0 0 58
Jax 0 0 0 0 50 50
Stashak 0 0 0 46 0 46
Cano 0 0 0 36 0 36
Duffey 0 0 0 33 0 33
Thielbar 0 3 0 23 0 26
Pagán 0 0 0 0 22 22
Duran 0 0 0 0 10 10
Smith 0 0 0 0 4 4
 

 


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1. Lewis ABs are getting to be must see events. Congrats kid.

2. Rocco left Jax in too long. Jax had to endure a very long bottom of the fifth, probably leading him to lose some of his stuff.

3. Pagan is so scary.

4. Smith is so exceptional.

5. We need more articles from Ted about how bad Urshela and Sanchez are - his last one perked then right up!

6. Great division win to break the losing streak and get the bats back.

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Well, if Sanchez bats like that... I can see him as the semi-permanent DH / emergency catcher. Sadly for Urshela, his hitting is just okay, and the Twins already have Miranda, Arraez and Lewis to move around the infield. Plus all three of those guys are much better hitters than Gio. When Correa gets back and if Kirilloff starts to hit, the Twins may decide it's better to keep Godoy as backup C. 

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On 5/13/2022 at 11:19 PM, Mike Sixel said:

Jax got the win? Nice stat.

Lewis is much more ready than I thought.

I would not feel too bad about being off on this one.  How could anyone have predicted he would be this good after not playing for two years?  This is a really big development for this team.  We don't have another SS in the system that will be ready anytime soon.  

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One could almost feel that grand slam coming with everything leading up to the Lewis at bat. Was that the first legendary moment in a storybook career?

Like many of you I have no idea what the Twins are going to do with Lewis when Correa comes back....if a correct guess would win you $100 bucks, what would you say? Down to St Paul? I really think the kid needs to play 6 games per week at this point....

Correa had that big PR moment a couple weeks ago where he said he was open to staying with the Twins long-term. Wonder what he's thinking now?

Troublesome to see the Twins go up 11-2 and then give up 6 unanswered runs. Jax seems to have improved a bit, but I think it's too early to feel confident about his abilities. And that goes for many members of this bullpen.

Lost in the box score were homers from both Buxton and Polanco. Twins are a decent team when those two guys are "on".

 

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6 hours ago, D.C Twins said:

So Lewis has no intention of returning to the minors..... time to start figuring out the plan for  him an Correra..... 3B/LF combo?

There is a poll active on Twinsdaily that asks "What should be done with Lewis once Correa returns"?

The Majority of respondents feel Lewis should be sent back down to AAA. 

It's not surprising but yet remains disappointing that so many just can't see anything besides the tiny box that they feel players must be placed in and therefore no room at the inn. 

Lewis sent down while performing like he has just to keep others on the roster who are performing nowhere close to Lewis... would cause... the first clear appearance of unmistakable erosion in my support of the front office.

I understand small sample sizes and I understand that the league will make adjustments to him that could cause problems but I'll say it. He is our 4th best position player at this moment in time. 

When Correa comes back... Lewis will do a great job in a super utility role. 

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Twins win despite another short stint from a starter and Rocco mismanaging another game. Managers worth a hoot don't have a player leading the league in homeruns batting leadoff, they bat 3rd or 4th in the lineup so when they do go deep it might actually produce 2 or 3 runs instead of one. Then leaving Jax in to pitch as long as he did was another mistake. He was clearly gassed in the 7th, waits too long to replace him with Smith and then only uses Smith for 1 out on 4 pitches. Instead of using Smith to pitch the 8th as well he uses Duran in the 8th and Pagan in the 9th. Why use an extra pitcher in that situation when you can't get 5 innings from your starters on a consistant basis? Smith hadn't pitched since Sunday and he only threw 12 pitches then so he shouldn't have been tired. Rocco doesn't know how to use a bullpen.

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1 hour ago, Major League Ready said:

I would not feel too bad about being off on this one.  How could anyone have predicted he would be this good after not playing for two years?  This is a really big development for this team.  We don't have another SS in the system to will be ready anytime soon.  

Miller is doing well, but nowhere near ready.

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3 minutes ago, Riverbrian said:

There is a poll active on Twinsdaily that asks "What should be done with Lewis once Correa returns"?

The Majority of respondents feel Lewis should be sent back down to AAA. 

It's not surprising but yet remains disappointing that so many just can't see anything besides the tiny box that they feel players must be placed in and therefore no room at the inn. 

Lewis sent down while performing like he has just to keep others on the roster who are performing nowhere close to Lewis... would cause... the first clear appearance of unmistakable erosion in my support of the front office.

When Correa comes back... Lewis will do a great job in a super utility role.

Yeah, I saw that poll.

I voted to keep him up!

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1 hour ago, bighat said:

One could almost feel that grand slam coming with everything leading up to the Lewis at bat. Was that the first legendary moment in a storybook career?

Like many of you I have no idea what the Twins are going to do with Lewis when Correa comes back....if a correct guess would win you $100 bucks, what would you say? Down to St Paul? I really think the kid needs to play 6 games per week at this point....

Correa had that big PR moment a couple weeks ago where he said he was open to staying with the Twins long-term. Wonder what he's thinking now?

Troublesome to see the Twins go up 11-2 and then give up 6 unanswered runs. Jax seems to have improved a bit, but I think it's too early to feel confident about his abilities. And that goes for many members of this bullpen.

Lost in the box score were homers from both Buxton and Polanco. Twins are a decent team when those two guys are "on".

 

Put Lewis at 3B, and let him learn while playing next to Mr. Platinum Glove, for as long as Correa wants to stay a Twin (at least 3 years I hope). Remember the Twins OF former motto of "nothing falling but the rain" of several years back. With Lewis and Correa on the left side of the infield, it reminds me of the Korean DMZ's 10 foot tall chain link, barbed wire topped, claymore mine lined, barrier fence, guarded by heavily armed soldiers of the Second Infantry Division in numerous foxholes and mini-towers along the southern border of the DMZ, where I was one of those soldiers in 1968 and 1969.  Our Rules of Engagement were: "Shoot all unidentified individuals who are between the MDL and the barrier fence, day or night, unless obviously attempting to surrender or defect."  Well, maybe this a little too much digression and not a good analogy, but it was the first example of not allowing something to get through, that I thought of, based on my life experiences. Maybe I'd better think of another example. I'll get back to you. 

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33 minutes ago, rv78 said:

Twins win despite another short stint from a starter and Rocco mismanaging another game. Managers worth a hoot don't have a player leading the league in homeruns batting leadoff, they bat 3rd or 4th in the lineup so when they do go deep it might actually produce 2 or 3 runs instead of one. 

I remember putting quarter after quarter to play Space Invaders and Donkey Kong at the Arcade. I remember sporting a mullet and my girl wearing shoulder pads and renting a movie to watch at Blockbuster and getting fined for late return. I remember not having to take my shoes off at the airport. 

Times change. This isn't just a Rocco thing once you look around the league. 

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1 hour ago, Riverbrian said:

There is a poll active on Twinsdaily that asks "What should be done with Lewis once Correa returns"?

The Majority of respondents feel Lewis should be sent back down to AAA. 

It's not surprising but yet remains disappointing that so many just can't see anything besides the tiny box that they feel players must be placed in and therefore no room at the inn. 

Lewis sent down while performing like he has just to keep others on the roster who are performing nowhere close to Lewis... would cause... the first clear appearance of unmistakable erosion in my support of the front office.

I understand small sample sizes and I understand that the league will make adjustments to him that could cause problems but I'll say it. He is our 4th best position player at this moment in time. 

When Correa comes back... Lewis will do a great job in a super utility role. 

I can see him getting time at 3B, OF similar to Arraez with a better glove and more power.

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2 hours ago, bighat said:

.if a correct guess would win you $100 bucks, what would you say? Down to St Paul?

Yes, but I think Correa is past his option years, so that'll make the demotion difficult. Oh, wait, you meant Lewis. :)

What a good problem to have. Lewis has to feel good about about his debut. He's probably made it clear to the FO that Correa is here just for a year. And any INF injury should see him back here soon.

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1 hour ago, mikelink45 said:

Lewis deserves to be on the team, sending him down could be a real let down for a young player.  Find a way to use him! Move Urshela if needed.  

I don't know that that's the case -- I think having one of the best (if not the best) players at the position in front of you means Lewis can't take it too hard. I don't know that there's an easy answer to what to do with Lewis when Correa comes back, but there's definitely value to the argument that after 2 years without game action, the most important thing for Lewis is consistent reps and paying time. For as much as it might a blow to his ego to get sent down, it would probably be much worse for his development to only play once or twice a week or have to figure out multiple new positions on the fly in the bigs.

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1 hour ago, Riverbrian said:

I remember putting quarter after quarter to play Space Invaders and Donkey Kong at the Arcade. I remember sporting a mullet and my girl wearing shoulder pads and renting a movie to watch at Blockbuster and getting fined for late return. I remember not having to take my shoes off at the airport. 

Times change. This isn't just a Rocco thing once you look around the league. 

So you are saying there are more Managers that don't know how to manage besides Rocco? Just because more than 1 person is doing something doesn't make it right!

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29 minutes ago, rv78 said:

So you are saying there are more Managers that don't know how to manage besides Rocco? Just because more than 1 person is doing something doesn't make it right!

Yes that is exactly what I'm saying.

Almost every manager in baseball today does not know what they are doing when it comes to executing the way you'd like. 😀

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From what I have seen since his first game, Lewis appears ready for the 'show.'  Unfortunately, shortstop is taken by Correa when he comes off the IL.

If I were making the decision, I would sit down with Royce and lay out a game plan.  It would begin with his being returned to St. Paul for roughly two weeks.  He would play 2 games a week in left field, 1 in center, 2 games at third and 1 at short.  After doing this for two or three weeks he would return to the Twins and play 2-3 games a week at both third and left.  He would also be the first reserve for Correa when he gets a day off.

I couldn't imagine him doing this well in my wildest dreams.  Yet, I think he needs to get some time at third and in left field with the Saints before doing so nightly in Target Field.

And yes, count me among those who thought Rocco waited several batters to long to pull Jax out of the game.  

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Great game! There hasn't been any doubt in my mind that they should keep Lewis up here. He has proven that he's ready for any challenge, the best thing right now in his development is to learn right beside Correa. Lewis has a good shot at ROY if he he keeps this up. 

He has shown when he was MVP at AFL that he can go to any position and excel, OF or INF. He doesn't need to go back to AAA to learn anything.

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3 hours ago, Riverbrian said:

There is a poll active on Twinsdaily that asks "What should be done with Lewis once Correa returns"?

If anyone wants to take the poll and participate in the discussion there, here is the link:

https://twinsdaily.com/forums/topic/56225-what-should-be-done-with-lewis-when-correa-returns/?_rid=7

 

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1 hour ago, JDubs said:

I don't know that that's the case -- I think having one of the best (if not the best) players at the position in front of you means Lewis can't take it too hard. I don't know that there's an easy answer to what to do with Lewis when Correa comes back, but there's definitely value to the argument that after 2 years without game action, the most important thing for Lewis is consistent reps and paying time. For as much as it might a blow to his ego to get sent down, it would probably be much worse for his development to only play once or twice a week or have to figure out multiple new positions on the fly in the bigs.

There is a simple solution, put him at 3B.  There is no way he is not an upgrade over Urshela, he is the one that can play a couple of days a week.

 

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