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Twins 6, Rockies 0: It’s Payback Time in Minneapolis


Twins Daily Contributor

One night after being shut out by the Rockies, the Twins bounced back brilliantly, shutting out the same Rockies, while also scoring six runs. They held off Colorado to one hit all night, as Chris Archer and the bullpen had a magnificent evening.

Box Score
Starting Pitcher: Chris Archer , 5.0 IP, 1H, 0R, 0ER, 1BB, 5K (78 pitches, 51 strikes, 65.4%)
Home Runs: none
Top 3 WPA: Chris Archer (.261), Luis Arraez (.096), Byron Buxton (.078)
Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs)
1839877121_chart(3).png.da82e456e03a2ecdec1d6dad1a78b5fa.png

In last night’s game, the Twins offense got shut out for the 10th time this season, more than any team in the majors this year. Against Rockies’ ace

Germán Márquez, they were held to only three hits the entire game, sadly wasting a very solid start from Dylan Bundy. Frustrating to say the least. But tonight, things were bound to be different and that was largely thanks to a particular centerfielder returning to the lineup.

After three consecutive games away from the starting lineup,

Byron Buxton returned and he made his presence in the very first pitch he saw. After Luis Arráez hit a leadoff double to left, Buxton followed that with a hustle triple to center, celebrating a ton after he dove head first into third. Apparently, Minnesota’s offense got more energy in tonight’s first two at-bats than they did in the entire game on Friday night.

Still in the first, they could’ve added on when

Max Kepler drew a one-out walk to put men on the corners, but Antonio Senzatela struck out the next two batters to end the threat. Minnesota’s offense was hungry, though, and they picked up where they left off in the second inning. Gary Sanchez and Nick Gordon hit back-to-back singles to open the inning, and after Gio Urshela sent his longtime teammate to third on a sac-fly, Arráez hit the Twins’ third single of the inning to easily score Sánchez.

Posting a 2.00 ERA in June before this game,

Chris Archer was once again solid as a rock. He shut out the Rockies offense through five, allowing only one hit and a walk. The only time he was in fact in danger was in the second inning, when he surrendered a leadoff single to C.J. Cron, followed by a walk to Ryan McMahon. But after that, he went on to retire twelve Rockies in a row.

This was just the third time in the season he completed five innings (all of them this month), finishing one pitch shy of matching his season-high 79 pitches in a game. Archer has Arráez to thank, for, in his final pitch, the Twins second baseman made a fine defensive play to avoid a single by Elias Diaz.

Before Archer officially departed the game, the bats provided some more run support, to try and ensure he would end up with the win. Carlos Correa hit a one-out single and was followed by a Kepler walk. After a mound visit, Senzatela gave up a long single to Kyle Garlick that scored Correa and sent Kepler to third. Alex Kirilloff stepped up to the plate and couldn’t get a hit himself, but he batted in Kepler with a sac-fly, making it 4-0 Twins.

Following a complete meltdown on Wednesday’s game against the Guardians, the Twins bullpen didn’t allow any runs for the third consecutive game. Jharel Cotton took over for Archer in the sixth and he didn’t have a clean, easy outing, as he allowed back-to-back one-out walks, but managed to pitch around them to end the inning. Then Griffin Jax was fantastic in the seventh, striking out the side on 12 pitches with some nasty stuff.

In that same seventh inning, the offense scored a couple more runs to put the game out of Colorado’s reach. Reliever Carlos Estevez had gotten two quick outs when Kepler drew his third walk of the night, a season-high for him. Garlick followed him with a single, then Kirilloff hit a long double to right, pushing both runners across. His three runs batted in in the night are also a season-high for him.

Tyler Thornburg came into this game, making it the first time this season he’s pitched on back-to-back games. He had a 25-pitch eighth in which he was briefly in a jam when he gave up two consecutive one-out walks. He managed to get out of it and was brought back to the ninth. This time around he had a much easier time, finishing off the Rockies on ten pitches.

What’s Next?
The series goes for its rubber game on Sunday afternoon, with the first pitch scheduled for 1:10 pm CDT, when rookie Joe Ryan (3.00 ERA) squares off against Ryan Feltner (5.46 ERA).

Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet

  TUE WED THU FRI SAT TOT
             
Cotton 11 28 0 0 25 64
Smith 0 21 26 0 0 47
Jax 27 7 0 0 12 46
Duran 27 0 17 0 0 44
Thornburg 0 0 0 7 35 42
Pagán 17 24 0 0 0 41
Duffey 0 0 0 28 0 28
Thielbar 0 15 12 0 0 27

 


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A few observations and questions following a much needed W:

1.  Will Buxton be in CF tomorrow or will be in the DH slot?  Just hope he's in the lineup as his presence definitely adds a spark.

2.  How serious is Larnach's core muscle injury?  Hopefully a report I read suggesting the possibility of surgery is not accurate.  Although his bat has slumped recently, imo, his bat is offers much more upside than Gordon.

3.  Hopefully Ryan will be "on" tomorrow.  I would hope if he is Rocco allows him to go as deep into game as possible as we're going to need EVERY bullpen arm for our 5 games in CLE.

 

 

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Archer did well, I thought, though his command isn't quite where I'd like it to be. He's missing some of his pitches when trying to finish off a batter still, but he's still very effective so I'm not going to complain much. I know it's going to drive some people nuts him getting pulled after 5 innings and only 78 pitches, but the Twins are determined to get him through the season healthy and have him ready to go in the fall when we get to playoff time and keeping his workload down from game to game is how they think it will get done. I understand the frustration, but when you look at his injury history over the past few years...it makes sense, regardless of whether anyone likes it or not.

Good to see the offense have a better night. Some missed opportunities, but as long as the team has good ABs and hits the ball hard they're going to get the runs. Defense was good tonight as well (anyone who doesn't enjoy the way Correa plays SS is someone who doesn't appreciate defense. The way he fields and throws the ball makes me smile every game).

Thornburg got through it, but I didn't love the way he threw. Lot of missed pitches, kind of looks like he overthrows? I'm glad he did the job, but I'm not sure he's a long term solution. Jax, on the other hand, looked excellent. His slider was really biting, even AJ was impressed.

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I finally got to see Archer pitch live, it was awesome, Nothing can get me going like a Buxton triple. 

My impressions- Cotton looked like he was just warming up, like Thornburg who went 2 innings, IMO I think they could be more effective if they could pitch more than 1 inning, which could also help relieve short relief. 

- I was impressed that Sanchez called "change up" 2x for Thornburg's SO in the 8th. So many times change up hasn't been called while Archer was pitching when the situation cries out for "change up" for a SO. Maybe it's a Wes Johnson thing.

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Lot of meat left on the bone last night, but winning 6-0 certainly takes some of the sting off the nagging issue. Surprised we didn't see Duffey at the end there.

Twins have lost two straight series and are staring at a 3rd if they lose today. They've been shut out a league worst 10 times and are 13-19 over their past 32 games. Does that make today a must-win? No. But it seems pretty important to right the ship nonetheless. Time for Ryan to deliver that gem we've been waiting for since he came off the IL.

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Wow! First time I've seen Archer and Jax pitch and I was impressed by both performances. Anybody else think Jax has closer stuff? And you gotta wonder if Rocco is going to lengthen Archer's leash to six innings after the All-Star break. He hardly worked up a sweat going five.

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It was nice to see Garlick get a start against a right hander. 

If Garlick could hit right handers like he hits left handers he'd be a very good hitter. 

Still believe that he hasn't faced enough right handers to determine if he can hit right handers. 

Hope to see some more of it. 

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I don't like the way they are baby caring for Archer, but I have to admit it seems to be working. A question I have to ask though is, do the games in Sept. count more than the games in June and July? I keep hearing thats why they are keeping his innings down, but what happens if they start falling behind Cleveland or Chicago before September? With this bullpen it seems like an extra inning could make a big difference. Would it harm Archer at this point to expand his pitch count from say 75 to 90? I hope that decision is up to the Trainers and Docs, not Rocco.

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3 minutes ago, Karbo said:

I don't like the way they are baby caring for Archer, but I have to admit it seems to be working. A question I have to ask though is, do the games in Sept. count more than the games in June and July? I keep hearing thats why they are keeping his innings down, but what happens if they start falling behind Cleveland or Chicago before September? With this bullpen it seems like an extra inning could make a big difference. Would it harm Archer at this point to expand his pitch count from say 75 to 90? I hope that decision is up to the Trainers and Docs, not Rocco.

Do you have any inside information that it is Rocco and not the Trainers and Docs that are holding Archer back? For all any of us know it is Rocco behind the scenes lobbying for a longer leash for Archer and others. 

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30 minutes ago, Karbo said:

I keep hearing thats why they are keeping his innings down, but what happens if they start falling behind Cleveland or Chicago before September?

I would think that if that does happen, they'd make adjustments. They can't be that rigid. (he said hopefully)

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21 minutes ago, Karbo said:

I don't like the way they are baby caring for Archer, but I have to admit it seems to be working. A question I have to ask though is, do the games in Sept. count more than the games in June and July? I keep hearing thats why they are keeping his innings down, but what happens if they start falling behind Cleveland or Chicago before September? With this bullpen it seems like an extra inning could make a big difference. Would it harm Archer at this point to expand his pitch count from say 75 to 90? I hope that decision is up to the Trainers and Docs, not Rocco.

It's not that games in September are worth more, it's a) the team has made a determination that having Archer make a start every turn in the rotation with a lower pitch limit is preferable to him pushing out longer, risking injury, and missing 2-8 starts; and b) playoff games ARE worth more, and the team is trying to ensure that he's available come post-season. YMMV on whether the first one is true or not, but so far Archer is staying healthy and on track, and he's a 33 year-old player (even if he looks 25) who only made 5 starts in 2021, zero in 2020, and only 23 relatively ineffective starts in 2019 so it's fair to be concerned that he can't handle the kind of workload he took on at his peak.

There's literally zero chance that Rocco is making this decision on his own, and I'm pretty sure they've talked about it. This kind of player program is being designed by a group of people that absolutely includes the training & medical staff. But the medical staff aren't going to say "It's fine for him to go 90 pitches now". They're going to say something more like "He can likely handle an additional pitch count in games where he's not having long, high-stress innings, but it will still increase his recovery time and likely increase his risk of additional injury going forward due to the additional stressors created by adding more load to his arm and body". (or something like that) 

It's important to remember that the 75 pitch count target isn't about building him up to handle a bigger workload, it's about trying to keep him on the field for the full season and as close to 30 starts as possible. Considering the injuries we've already seen in the rotation, there's certainly logic behind it.

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Everyone who is speculating about how Archer is being used should read today’s Strib.  In it he is “quoted” saying how happy he is playing for Rocco and the Twins.  He mentions liking the Trainers plan to get him thru this season after three injuries limiting him to 19 innings the past two years.  I think he used the term ‘love’ when describing his situation this year.  And it sure seems to be working.

Also talk about Larnach’s injury, including the fact he has been playing with it for awhile and the real possibility of surgery.

Will second the above comments about Jax.  Would also remind myself and others that the Twins have been playing most of this week without two of their four best hitters, Buxton and Polanco.

 

 

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