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Twins 5, Mariners 0: A Late Surge by the Offense Secures the Series Victory


Twins Daily Contributor

It was mostly a quiet afternoon from both offenses, but a few clutch hits late were enough for the Twins to win the rubber game against the Mariners. Minnesota wins the first series of the West Coast trip.

 

Box Score
Starting Pitcher: Sonny Gray, 5.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K (65 pitches, 41 strikes, 63.0%)
Home Runs: none
Top 3 WPA: Sonny Gray (.263), Ryan Jeffers (.224), Caleb Thielbar (.131)
Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs)
1419421559_chart(3).png.8a8a3a2603ff031ab036d2b88b7908ce.png

A pitcher’s duel took place early in this game, as both starting pitchers dominated the opposing offenses with brilliance. Coming off the Injured List, Sonny Gray was making his first start for the Twins since May 29, and he looked superb for the first portion of the game.

Gray retired six of the first seven batters faced, and that took him only 23 pitches. Come the third inning, he encountered his first speed bump of the afternoon, giving up a leadoff double to Taylor Trammell. To make it worse, Max Kepler made a throwing error on that play, allowing the Mariners right-fielder to reach third. Despite going back to the top of the Seattle order, Gray managed to retire the side and strand the runner on third.

After dealing with the threat in the third, Gray continued to dazzle Mariner hitters and tossed a couple more shutout innings. He pitched exactly twice through the order allowing only three hits and no walks, with a total of only 65 pitches. Apparently, he picked up right where he left off before his latest trip to the IL.

Pitching wasn’t the problem for Minnesota, but the bats were once again having a hard time. Southpaw Marco Gonzales was fiercely dominant against the Twins lineup, allowing only two hits and a walk for his first six innings of work. Minnesota’s first hit only came in the fourth. But things changed in the seventh inning. Gonzalez retired the leadoff man for his fifth consecutive Minnesota batter put away. Then the Twins started to manufacture their first run when Gary Sánchez hit a bloop single and Luis Arraez drew a walk after him.

Jose Miranda sent Sánchez to third on a hustle play, avoiding a double play at first. Gonzalez was pulled right there, and Ryan Jeffers faced reliever Paul Sewald. On the second pitch he saw, he smacked a hard single to deep center, deep enough for Sánchez to score easily and put the Twins on the board.

After Gray departed the game, Griffin Jax took over to pitch the sixth, and with a killer slider, he breezed through the three batters he faced, striking out two in the process. But once he departed, the Twins bullpen pitched themselves into a jam. Joe Smith allowed the first two batters he saw to reach in the seventh, on a leadoff single to Eugenio Suárez and a five-pitch walk to Jesse Winker. Fortunately for him, Dylan Moore popped out on a bunt next for the first out. Then, Gio Urshela made a fantastic defensive play for the second out. Smith departed the game after that, and Caleb Thielbar got the final out with four pitches.

Such a clutch performance by the bullpen needed to be rewarded, and the offense came through in the top of the eighth. Gilberto Celestino hit a leadoff single against reliever Penn Murfee, and he scored a couple of at-bats later on a Carlos Correa double to left, making it 2-0 Twins.

Minnesota wasn’t done. After Urshela grounded out for the second out of the inning, Sánchez drew a walk. It was up to Arráez to break the game open, and he came through. Following a wild pitch, Arráez pushed both runners across with a sharp ground ball thru an infield hole on the left side, doubling the Twins lead. It was his first hit of the day, driving his batting average back up to .354.

Seattle’s bullpen found trouble again in the top of the ninth, although this time, they were able to limit the damage. Jeffers drew a leadoff walk and was followed by a Kepler single. Reliever Roenis Elias got Celestino to ground out next, allowing Jeffers to score from third, making it 5-0 for Minnesota. Jharel Cotton came in to finish the game and, despite allowing two runners to reach, managed to put this one away with a strikeout and a couple of ground ball outs.

What’s Next?
Minnesota gets a day off tomorrow as their West Coast trip continues on Friday. The Twins pay a visit to the Arizona Diamondbacks for a three-game set. Devin Smeltzer (2.38 ERA) duels Madison Bumgarner (3.50 ERA) in game one, with first pitch scheduled for 8:40 pm CDT.

Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet

  SAT SUN MON TUE WED TOT
             
Cotton 26 0 18 0 16 60
Duran 16 0 13 0 13 42
Pagán 21 0 18 0 0 39
Duffey 0 33 0 0 0 33
Thielbar 19 0 8 0 4 31
Megill 16 0 0 14 0 30
Thornburg 0 26 0 0 0 26
Jax 0 0 12 0 11 23
Smith 0 0 1 0 15 16
 

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Have to say it seems to me Correa fails when needed a fair amount of the time but he came through big time today.  That double really threw that reliever for a loop and opened things up.  It was a tough pitch too but he hit it hard to a corner.  Of course Arreaz also was clutch and drove in two runs in a typical long at bat where it looked like they might have fooled him but he fouled it off and the next pitch scored two runs.  He is just amazing to watch in the batters box.  Glad he is on our team.

Gray made it all possible with a crazy good outing giving up no runs.  Let's hope the Twins can keep things going because Cleveland and Chicago seem to be back on track as well.

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Great game from Jeffers! I was hoping for a Gary/Larnach combo in the lineup, but I'm glad I was wrong. He really came through and caught a shutout while doing it. 

Oh, and if Luis Torrens were to happen to leave this planet and end up in that hot place, I'm pretty sure his punishment would be to play the top of that 8th inning for all eternity. 

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3 hours ago, Dman said:

Have to say it seems to me Correa fails when needed a fair amount of the time

As do most hitters since even a .300 BA carries some failure with it.  This season, he's come up with the bases loaded 3 times and delivered 2 doubles.  I'm not worried about his clutch abilities.

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21 minutes ago, ashbury said:

As do most hitters since even a .300 BA carries some failure with it.  This season, he's come up with the bases loaded 3 times and delivered 2 doubles.  I'm not worried about his clutch abilities (anymoreso than other good to great players.)

Lots of double plays in April-May and a poor BA.  He has come around but a pretty ugly start.

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A lot of key at bats, as well as pitching and fielding highlights. 1) Urshela made a do or die play that broke up a possible rally. 2) Gray retired the side after Trammel reached third with no one out. He made a great 3-2 pitch to France.  3) Jeffers and Correa with big RBI hits.  4) Thielbar retiring the pinch hitter on a routine fly ball. Getting ahead in the count made a real difference in what kind of swing the batter had. 5) Arraez’ 2-run single pretty much iced the game. 

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I'm wondering who the Twins pitcher will be that leds the team in wins come the end of the season. And will there be more than one pitcher from the rotation with more than, say, 10 wins.

It was a game you bring in Duffey to close, with Cotton warming up to put out the fire. Are we saving Duffey for the Arizona series?

Some solid arms in Seattle!

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1 hour ago, stringer bell said:

A lot of key at bats, as well as pitching and fielding highlights. 1) Urshela made a do or die play that broke up a possible rally. 2) Gray retired the side after Trammel reached third with no one out. He made a great 3-2 pitch to France.  3) Jeffers and Correa with big RBI hits.  4) Thielbar retiring the pinch hitter on a routine fly ball. Getting ahead in the count made a real difference in what kind of swing the batter had. 5) Arraez’ 2-run single pretty much iced the game. 

Pretty sure the chatter was headed for the end of Jeffers, worked for one day. Gosh I think Polanco should be riding the pine now that the All-Star Arraez has got second covered! 

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1 minute ago, wabene said:

Pretty sure the chatter was headed for the end of Jeffers, worked for one day. Gosh I think Polanco should be riding the pine now that the All-Star Arraez has got second covered! 

The IL for position players is only 10 days at the minimum. Polanco won't have played for 5 days at this point. Hindsight is 20-20 but Kirilloff could have come up for Polanco easily enough.

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I guess I will be the lone voice crying out in the wilderness again, but a 3 hit shutout with only 65 pitches might, just might, make one want to ride the horse they are leading with rather than change horses in the middle of the stream, so to speak, and hope all 5 come through without a stumble.  This whole belief that I cannot allow you to pitch to a batter for a 3rd time no matter how well you have done the first 2 times through is nothing more than stubborness.  Plan A is plan A, and I will not change it.  We had 2 pitchers this week on fire, and BETWEEN THEM they pitched 9 innings.  I can only hope that they keep on winning to a level that gets them into the playoffs, but I have to say they are the most frustrating Twins team I have watched since I began in 1965.  Rocco's analytics may pan out more often than not, but I can say for a fact I am not the only one who just doesn't want to watch this brand of baseball.  I know so many people who don't watch at all anymore, and that is not a good sign for the game.  I want my team to do well, but I find myself losing the passion for this game as it is being managed.  When I was my son's age I went to 8-10 games a year.  Now, between the 3 of us, we have gone to a total of 2 games total in the last 5 years.  And it is entirely because we have no idea of who we are paying to see on any given day except the starter, and even then he will be gone in 4 or 5 innings.  No thanks.  As I said, I may be the lone voice on this site, but not outside of it.  Hey, Jim, you might want to look at your attendance figures and ask yourself why.   We are averaging 5-6 thousand a game less than '17 and '18, and only ahead of last year (when we started the season with 25% capacity limits) by about 3 thousand.  It is not the product or the quality of the roster.  Think about it, Jim.  

Let's hope they can beat Cleveland.  It will go a long way to a title.

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Jeffers finely contributed offensively today but that has been rare. The lack of caught stealing numbers between our two catchers is really adding up and has to improve. A trade for a more dependable receiver behind the plate would be an upgrade for this team.

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3 hours ago, Mark G said:

I guess I will be the lone voice crying out in the wilderness again, but a 3 hit shutout with only 65 pitches might, just might, make one want to ride the horse they are leading with rather than change horses in the middle of the stream, so to speak, and hope all 5 come through without a stumble.  This whole belief that I cannot allow you to pitch to a batter for a 3rd time no matter how well you have done the first 2 times through is nothing more than stubborness.  Plan A is plan A, and I will not change it.  We had 2 pitchers this week on fire, and BETWEEN THEM they pitched 9 innings.  I can only hope that they keep on winning to a level that gets them into the playoffs, but I have to say they are the most frustrating Twins team I have watched since I began in 1965.  Rocco's analytics may pan out more often than not, but I can say for a fact I am not the only one who just doesn't want to watch this brand of baseball.  I know so many people who don't watch at all anymore, and that is not a good sign for the game.  I want my team to do well, but I find myself losing the passion for this game as it is being managed.  When I was my son's age I went to 8-10 games a year.  Now, between the 3 of us, we have gone to a total of 2 games total in the last 5 years.  And it is entirely because we have no idea of who we are paying to see on any given day except the starter, and even then he will be gone in 4 or 5 innings.  No thanks.  As I said, I may be the lone voice on this site, but not outside of it.  Hey, Jim, you might want to look at your attendance figures and ask yourself why.   We are averaging 5-6 thousand a game less than '17 and '18, and only ahead of last year (when we started the season with 25% capacity limits) by about 3 thousand.  It is not the product or the quality of the roster.  Think about it, Jim.  

Let's hope they can beat Cleveland.  It will go a long way to a title.

Guy goes on the IL, comes back pitches one game and the injury flares back up, goes back on the IL, comes back and you would throw him 9 innings? 

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40 minutes ago, wabene said:

Guy goes on the IL, comes back pitches one game and the injury flares back up, goes back on the IL, comes back and you would throw him 9 innings? 

If I believed for a New York minute that that was the reason, I wouldn't have written what I did.  Archer hasn't missed a start this year and he is averaging 4 innings a start, even though he has pitched pretty well overall.  The other day...........4 innings, even though he was going great.  The argument there, as well, is he was injured in the past.  When does that become just an excuse?  How many starts this year from our rotation have ended exactly where last night's did, regardless of score and pitch count?  It is simply a 3rd or 4th (very seldom 4th) time through the order that determines changes.  They have been very up front about that being a strategy, so it is hard to then say it is because we are afraid of injuries if we push them too hard.  It can't be both ways; our stats say they don't do well 3rd and 4th times through, but it is only because we are protecting them from injury that we limit their innings, especially when the innings just happen to coincide with where they are in the batting order.  It makes your head spin.  And my overall point was it is just not fun to watch that 162 times a year.  I just hope the guys we have can make it work for them; it doesn't work for a lot of the rest of us.  

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5 hours ago, Mark G said:

 but I have to say they are the most frustrating Twins team I have watched since I began in 1965. 

 

2018 was the year that still frustrates me today. I hated that year so much that I still think about Logan Morrison a couple of times a day.

( 2022 (edit)) has been very enjoyable so far.  

 

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Great series win, hope to see the same in AZ.  One thing I fear this weekend is that Rocco will be resting lots of guys and putting in the "B Team" on at least 2 of the three games in order to have the team fresh for Cleveland.

Twins are still just 7-7 so far in June and the Guardians have gained 2.5 games in the standings on them this month.

Twins have a huge 3 game series at home against Cleveland starting next Monday, then they have another 5 game series at Cleveland the following week. We know how the Twins did against DET when they had that 5-gamer. Keep expectations realistic.

 

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8 minutes ago, bighat said:

One thing I fear this weekend is that Rocco will be resting lots of guys and putting in the "B Team" on at least 2 of the three games in order to have the team fresh for Cleveland.

Who is the "B Team"? 

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44 minutes ago, Mark G said:

If I believed for a New York minute that that was the reason, I wouldn't have written what I did.  Archer hasn't missed a start this year and he is averaging 4 innings a start, even though he has pitched pretty well overall.  The other day...........4 innings, even though he was going great.  The argument there, as well, is he was injured in the past.  When does that become just an excuse?  How many starts this year from our rotation have ended exactly where last night's did, regardless of score and pitch count?  It is simply a 3rd or 4th (very seldom 4th) time through the order that determines changes.  They have been very up front about that being a strategy, so it is hard to then say it is because we are afraid of injuries if we push them too hard.  It can't be both ways; our stats say they don't do well 3rd and 4th times through, but it is only because we are protecting them from injury that we limit their innings, especially when the innings just happen to coincide with where they are in the batting order.  It makes your head spin.  And my overall point was it is just not fun to watch that 162 times a year.  I just hope the guys we have can make it work for them; it doesn't work for a lot of the rest of us.  

Wait so you don't think Gray being pulled when he was wasn't because he just came back from two IL stints? 

 

"It can't be both ways; our stats say they don't do well 3rd and 4th times through, but it is only because we are protecting them from injury that we limit their innings, especially when the innings just happen to coincide with where they are in the batting order.  It makes your head spin."

I think it is more than both ways it is all ways. Many factors go into every decision they make, as it should be.

Stretching out from injury downtime.

3rd time through the order.

Who is coming up next?

State of the patented TD Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet®

Injury history (i.e. Archer coming off multiple injury riddled seasons) and their plan for dealing with it. 

Performance in the moment.

 

For me this is what I like about baseball. The in-game strategy. 

 

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53 minutes ago, Riverbrian said:

2018 was the year that still frustrates me today. I hated that year so much that I still think about Logan Morrison a couple of times a day.

 2020 has been very enjoyable so far.  

 

Hey Riv, we're currently in 2022 😏🙂

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5 minutes ago, wabene said:

Wait so you don't think Gray being pulled when he was wasn't because he just came back from two IL stints? 

 

"It can't be both ways; our stats say they don't do well 3rd and 4th times through, but it is only because we are protecting them from injury that we limit their innings, especially when the innings just happen to coincide with where they are in the batting order.  It makes your head spin."

I think it is more than both ways it is all ways. Many factors go into every decision they make, as it should be.

Stretching out from injury downtime.

3rd time through the order.

Who is coming up next?

State of the patented TD Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet®

Injury history (i.e. Archer coming off multiple injury riddled seasons) and their plan for dealing with it. 

Performance in the moment.

 

For me this is what I like about baseball. The in-game strategy. 

 

I am glad you enjoy this type of game; I wish I could share in your enjoyment.  No, I don't believe he was pulled when he was because of the injuries recently, because the pattern is the same with every pitcher.  If it was the next guy up, why is it always at the end of an inning they are pulled?  If it was performance in the moment, the moment would change game to game, not exactly when the 3rd time through the lineup was in front of him.  If it was in-game strategy it would vary throughout the game, by inning and where in the inning, but it doesn't.  It is entirely the times through the lineup and the bullpen usage chart you refer to, and I reiterate my point about it simply not being fun to watch game after game all season.  I will tip my hat if it works deep into October, but it still won't be as enjoyable as it is for you.  And I am not alone.  

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