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Twins 5, Tigers 4: Urshela Comes Through as Twins Walkoff Tigers 


Twins Daily Contributor

The Minnesota Twins took the lead early on a Max Kepler grand slam. After letting the Tigers back into the game, it took a 9th inning walk-off single from Gio Urshela to take game one of the series. 

 

Box Score
SP: Chris Archer: 4 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 K (72 pitches, 46 strikes (63.9%))
Home Runs: Max Kepler (6)
Top 3 WPA: Max Kepler (0.275), Kyle Garlick (0.232), Emilio Pagan (0.230)

Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs)

image.png.75b6086452c23b21e4ba4e73132bd9de.png

Archer four innings of bend don’t break
In the offseason, Chris Archer was picked up to be the Twins 5th starter. That said, Archer has since become one of the most available arms for the Twins, even if it is for only four innings at a time. The short outings still often leave the Twins in a spot to win more often than not. 

The journey there can be bumpy. Monday night, that came in the way of three hits and two walks and scoring threats in three of the four innings Archer completed. If it weren’t for Daz Cameron’s speed beating out a double play, Archer likely would have put up a scoreless outing. The difficulty with the short outings is that it means the bullpen must be able to pick Archer up. More on that later. 

“Checked then Wrecked” 
You have probably heard the patented phrase “bloop and a blast.” The Twins put together a first inning that resulted in a check-swing single from Jorge Polanco to load the bases—followed by an absolute bomb from Max Kepler for a grand slam to give the Twins and Archer an early 4-0 lead. 

Monday night’s grand slam was Kepler’s sixth on the season. A season in which Kepler is reestablishing himself as a reliable offensive threat in the Twins lineup. Coming into Monday evening, he carried a career-best 136 WRC+. 

Chinks in the bullpen armor
The bullpen has, time and time again in 2022, shut down opposing lineups. Monday night, the Tigers tested that ability was tested, and the results were not favorable. Griffin Jax came into the game to begin the 5th inning. In that inning, Jax let up a home run to Jonathan Schoop. Then in the 6th, Eric Haase was able to drive in a second run against Jax cutting the Twins lead down to one. 

Even the seemingly untouchable Joe Smith was scored on Monday night. This time Schoop was the one on base after his own one-out double and driven in by a Miguel Cabrera single. Smith was only to record one out in his appearance and was chased from the game after allowing three hits and striking out one. 

Pagan steadies the ship
Emilio Pagan has created some interesting moments at the backend of games, but he came up big right on Monday night when the Twins needed it. Not only did Pagan shut down the Tigers in the eight. The Twins also called on to take on the ninth. While Pagan allowed one hit, he also struck out four batters. Including Schoop and Cabrera, who caused trouble for the Twins bullpen earlier in the game. Pagan likely won't be mentioned in headlines, but he came up big for the Twins. 

Urshela with heroics for the second straight game 
After allowing the Tigers back into the game and tying the score up at four, the Twins had to rally in the bottom of the ninth. Kepler, who already had the important grand slam in the first inning, took a vital walk to lead off the inning. With a lefty in Andrew Chafin on the mound, Rocco Baldelli turned to his bench and lefty masher Kyle Garlick. Garlick promptly hit a single to the outfield which advanced Kepler to third base. On night after Garlick homered off of a righty, he continues to show how elite he is when facing lefties.  

After a Sanchez pop-out, Gio Urshela came to the plate. Urshela has been one of many Twins that has been bit by the double-play grounder bug. With Garlick on first, that result had a strong chance as one of the Twins bottom of the ninth outcomes. Instead, Urshela was able to hit a grounder up the middle with enough speed that the Tigers couldn't handle it and allowed Kepler to score the game's winning run. 

Two incredible and exciting wins in the row take the Twins to five straight wins as they try to extend their AL Central lead. 

 

What’s Next? Tuesday, the Twins will send Sonny Gray to the mound for his sixth start of the season. He will look to get the Twins a win and improve upon his already solid 3.48 ERA. The Tigers will send rookie Beau Brieske to the mound. The righty sits mid-90s with his fastball and mixes in a changeup and slider, but has been hit pretty hard to this point in his young career. We will see if the Twins can exploit that Tuesday.

Postgame Interview

Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet

- THU FRI SAT SUN MON TOT
             
Jax 0 18 0 0 33 51
Pagán 0 19 0 0 28 47
Cano 0 0 0 38 0 38
Smith 0 0 21 0 17 38
Duran 0 16 0 17 0 33
Duffey 0 18 0 14 0 32
Megill 0 0 0 31 0 31
Thielbar 0 0 18 0 3 21
Stashak 0 0 18 0 IL 18

 

 


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Twins stole this one, and that's something good teams do against bad teams. And right now the Tigers are not a good team. But they do have a pretty good chunk of talent there, even with the injuries.

Would be happier if Archer could go deeper into games; he did ok in holding the lead, but we needed one more inning out of him, preferably a clean one, and he gave up too many baserunners.

Arraez just continues to roll. What a nightmare he is to get out right now.

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An ugly win considering how this game stood after Kepler's slam in the first inning.  Saying that, a few observations:

1.  As much as you do have to give credit to Urshela for putting the ball in play-----it easily could've (and maybe should've been) a rally killing DP.  Way too many situations last year that just putting the ball in play would've resulted in a win.  Good things happen when you force the defense to make a play.

2.  No jinx intended here, but Max Kepler is starting to make me a believer again!  Tempting fate, I know, but his confidence level right now appears to sky high.  Taking some great ABs and showing he can hit LH pitching.

3.  Garlick:  We don't win the last 2 games without his bat.  Huge 2-run bomb yesterday in 8th and his key line drive single in 9th set Urshela up to be the hero.  He can absolutely punish the ball.  Hope he can remain healthy!

4.  Buxton:  Anyone going to complain tomorrow when he sits?  His slump....at last glance 1-19...is becoming a concern.

5.  Pagan:  See #2 comment.  Not saying more.

6.  Note to Falvey/Levine:  If you're insistent on keeping Archer and Bundy in this rotation, you better be looking for bullpen help NOW and not waiting till the ASB.  Adding at least 1 quality bullpen arm is a must!  Would like to see Moran recalled, but he needs to show more consistency with his command at SP.   

Not sure of the current number, but the last I saw, Twins BP---as good as its been most of the year--------was top 5 in MLB in innings pitched.  Got to find a way to beef up this pen as key arms like Duffey and Jax continue to have some mediocre outings.  

 

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I am concerned that Buxton is playing hurt.  He doesn’t look right at the plate.  The ball he missed in right center was a tough play but one I expected him to make.  Not every center fielder would catch that ball, but he’s not every center fielder.  

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It's already been said, but good teams find ways to win.... and this team has won a lot of close ones. 

While Buck's 3/35 slump is concerning, the team winning games without needing to rely on him is super encouraging. 

Luis Arraez is on another planet right now.   While his .533 OBP is other worldly, in the last 5 games he's hitting .555 with an OBP of .652 with 9 runs scored. 

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14 hours ago, Danchat said:

This one felt like a loss, good job by Thielbar and Pagan to hold the Tigers off long enough for the offense to wake up again.

Also, this post-game quote from Rocco was great:

 

Thanks for including this wonderful Rocco quote about Arraez. That quote is a classic quote describing a classic hitter.  I really like this team.

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4 hours ago, darwin22 said:

An ugly win considering how this game stood after Kepler's slam in the first inning.  Saying that, a few observations:

1.  As much as you do have to give credit to Urshela for putting the ball in play-----it easily could've (and maybe should've been) a rally killing DP.  Way too many situations last year that just putting the ball in play would've resulted in a win.  Good things happen when you force the defense to make a play.

2.  No jinx intended here, but Max Kepler is starting to make me a believer again!  Tempting fate, I know, but his confidence level right now appears to sky high.  Taking some great ABs and showing he can hit LH pitching.

3.  Garlick:  We don't win the last 2 games without his bat.  Huge 2-run bomb yesterday in 8th and his key line drive single in 9th set Urshela up to be the hero.  He can absolutely punish the ball.  Hope he can remain healthy!

4.  Buxton:  Anyone going to complain tomorrow when he sits?  His slump....at last glance 1-19...is becoming a concern.

5.  Pagan:  See #2 comment.  Not saying more.

6.  Note to Falvey/Levine:  If you're insistent on keeping Archer and Bundy in this rotation, you better be looking for bullpen help NOW and not waiting till the ASB.  Adding at least 1 quality bullpen arm is a must!  Would like to see Moran recalled, but he needs to show more consistency with his command at SP.   

Not sure of the current number, but the last I saw, Twins BP---as good as its been most of the year--------was top 5 in MLB in innings pitched.  Got to find a way to beef up this pen as key arms like Duffey and Jax continue to have some mediocre outings.  

 

Nice summary Darwin22.

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7 hours ago, darwin22 said:

Buxton:  Anyone going to complain tomorrow when he sits?  His slump....at last glance 1-19...is becoming a concern.

A lot of comments about Bux on this thread and rightfully so. Some think he's playing hurt, he should rest more, etc.

I wonder if the opposite is true? It's pretty hard to get into a groove if you are sitting every other day. It's also hard to make adjustments if you're not in the lineup every night. It's taken Bux a bit longer than normal to recognize the new approach from pitchers simply because he's not able to get in there and adjust.

Then again, a slump is a slump and it happens to everyone. Buxton took a 93 MPH fastball last night, it was left up and right down Broadway. Three weeks ago he crushes that into the upper deck. He just doesn't seem to be seeing the ball well right now.

More food for thought: this slump seems to be coming out on the heels of a really great in-depth feature on MLB Network and an article in the New York Times praising Buxton with the title 'Best Player in the World'. Buxton is notoriously low-key and isn't a fan of too much attention. Is it possible he's started feeling some anxiety and/or pressure as the hype machine has gone into overdrive?

Honestly I just think the guy just needs to play 3-4 straight games for goddsakes. Let him swing his way out of the doldrums.

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1 hour ago, bighat said:

A lot of comments about Bux on this thread and rightfully so. Some think he's playing hurt, he should rest more, etc.

I wonder if the opposite is true? It's pretty hard to get into a groove if you are sitting every other day. It's also hard to make adjustments if you're not in the lineup every night. It's taken Bux a bit longer than normal to recognize the new approach from pitchers simply because he's not able to get in there and adjust.

Then again, a slump is a slump and it happens to everyone. Buxton took a 93 MPH fastball last night, it was left up and right down Broadway. Three weeks ago he crushes that into the upper deck. He just doesn't seem to be seeing the ball well right now.

More food for thought: this slump seems to be coming out on the heels of a really great in-depth feature on MLB Network and an article in the New York Times praising Buxton with the title 'Best Player in the World'. Buxton is notoriously low-key and isn't a fan of too much attention. Is it possible he's started feeling some anxiety and/or pressure as the hype machine has gone into overdrive?

Honestly I just think the guy just needs to play 3-4 straight games for goddsakes. Let him swing his way out of the doldrums.

The real answer to this quandary is likely that both are true.  Yes, he probably could use a 3 or 4 game stretch to get his swing back.  But it's also likely true that he's not healthy enough to do it.  

If it really is patellar tendinitis, that's not going away with a short IL stint or while playing every day.  So, they've either got to shut him down for an extended IL stay or play through it and try to manage it as best they can.  We know that Buxton wants nothing more than to play, so the resulting scenario is what we're currently seeing.

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Excellent review Nate! Very happy for Kepler, he's really coming around, his grand slam was hugh in winning this game. Detroit played us tough by throwing out their best BP arms. Wish Archer could have gone 5 but Wes knows best, Archer influences a lot our pitchers, he's a leader and adds a lot to the chemistry of this club. Patience will pay high dividends come around the play-off time, with his stuff & expertise. Wish more fans had more patience and insight.

Also like to recognize Pagan's solid performance & win together with Urshela's clutch hitting.

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7 hours ago, SwainZag said:

It's already been said, but good teams find ways to win.... and this team has won a lot of close ones. 

While Buck's 3/35 slump is concerning, the team winning games without needing to rely on him is super encouraging. 

Luis Arraez is on another planet right now.   While his .533 OBP is other worldly, in the last 5 games he's hitting .555 with an OBP of .652 with 9 runs scored. 

I've said it before and I'll say it again, Buxton may be the teams best player, but by seasons' end Arraez may be the most valuable.

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Love the win, but Archer and Bundy are really putting pressure on the BP.  I looked at the BP chart 33,28,31, and 38 Pitches by BP arms the last two days.  This is not sustainable and Archer's tightrope 4 innings is not going to go well in June when the opposition is stronger.  It is a concern - I know from another poster that this is not 1975, but I still think we need starters to go 6 or 7.  We are coming to a reduction to 13 pitchers.  Who goes?  BP arms are used regularly, Archer, Bundy, etc every six days.

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Thielbar and Pagan, who have been much maligned (often with good reason) came up huge last night to stop the bullpen bleeding.

 

The bullpen is getting stretched. I expect we'll see Cano optioned (does Megill have options?) and Moran recalled today. Six innings from Gray would be a big boost.

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44 minutes ago, mikelink45 said:

Love the win, but Archer and Bundy are really putting pressure on the BP.  I looked at the BP chart 33,28,31, and 38 Pitches by BP arms the last two days.  This is not sustainable and Archer's tightrope 4 innings is not going to go well in June when the opposition is stronger.  It is a concern - I know from another poster that this is not 1975, but I still think we need starters to go 6 or 7.  We are coming to a reduction to 13 pitchers.  Who goes?  BP arms are used regularly, Archer, Bundy, etc every six days.

If we can keep Ryan / Gray / Ober / and Winder healthy, they could stack Archer & Bundy with Smeltzer as depth.

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2 hours ago, bighat said:

A lot of comments about Bux on this thread and rightfully so. Some think he's playing hurt, he should rest more, etc.

I wonder if the opposite is true? It's pretty hard to get into a groove if you are sitting every other day. It's also hard to make adjustments if you're not in the lineup every night. It's taken Bux a bit longer than normal to recognize the new approach from pitchers simply because he's not able to get in there and adjust.

Then again, a slump is a slump and it happens to everyone. Buxton took a 93 MPH fastball last night, it was left up and right down Broadway. Three weeks ago he crushes that into the upper deck. He just doesn't seem to be seeing the ball well right now.

More food for thought: this slump seems to be coming out on the heels of a really great in-depth feature on MLB Network and an article in the New York Times praising Buxton with the title 'Best Player in the World'. Buxton is notoriously low-key and isn't a fan of too much attention. Is it possible he's started feeling some anxiety and/or pressure as the hype machine has gone into overdrive?

Honestly I just think the guy just needs to play 3-4 straight games for goddsakes. Let him swing his way out of the doldrums.

Interesting thought bighad.  But after watching him after he didn't get that ball against the wall and I see a player who isn't 100%.  Don't know whether a stint on the IL is the answer, just believe he is hurting.

We are watching a young man learn a new position on the fly, Luis Arraez.  I believe that by year-end he will be an average or better first baseman.  Yes, he is too short and doesn't hit for power.  But I want his bat in the lineup 140+ games a year.  He is average, at best, defensively at second and third which are his best other positions.  If he can be average or better at first, put him there for the next five plus years.  

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A mass cloning of Tigers' pitcher Rodriguez would solve the slow speed-of-play issues some people dislike. On some occasions, he was delivering the next pitch seven seconds after receiving the ball from the catcher.

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Arreaz the major leaguer , I said it his first season he arrived  and I usually wait 3 years to evaluate  a players talent  ,,, he bats like gwynn and hits like carew  ...

 Yes his defense is average but he gets on base ...  his firstbase defense  has been  good  and above average ...  

We need hitters that have a plan to get on base and arreaz has a plan every time he is batting  , maybe he doesn't hit lefties as well but with his good eyes  he can draw walks ....

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1 hour ago, mikelink45 said:

Love the win, but Archer and Bundy are really putting pressure on the BP.  I looked at the BP chart 33,28,31, and 38 Pitches by BP arms the last two days.  This is not sustainable and Archer's tightrope 4 innings is not going to go well in June when the opposition is stronger.  It is a concern - I know from another poster that this is not 1975, but I still think we need starters to go 6 or 7.  We are coming to a reduction to 13 pitchers.  Who goes?  BP arms are used regularly, Archer, Bundy, etc every six days.

The problem isn't with Archer or Bundy if they can give you good innings. The problem is Baldelli uses 5 short RPs even when Ryan, Ober, Winder, Smeltzer or Gray are pitching. If you have 1 long RP to pitch 3-4 innings that replace 3-4 short RPs.

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