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Twins 3, Orioles 2: Twins Walk Off Orioles on a Buxton Homer


Twins Daily Contributor

The Twins had 21 consecutive batters retired on a brutal night against a tough Oriole pitching staff, but on a couple of swings late in the ninth, they walked off Baltimore to win the series opener.

Box Score
Starting Pitcher: Joe Ryan, 7.0 IP, 2H, 1R, 1ER, 1BB, 7K (89 pitches, 64 strikes, 71.9%)
Home Runs: Byron Buxton (21)
Top 3 WPA: Byron Buxton(.594), Joe Ryan (.315), Luis Arraez (.137)
Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs)
chart.png.0b9f9eaa15f508c94bd936e692b3f3e5.png

An outstanding pitcher’s duel took place at Target Field tonight. Starters Joe Ryan and Spenser Watkins brilliantly dominated their opposing lineups for most of this game, and both teams scored only one run each after seven innings.

The Twins' offense created a clear threat in the first inning, despite coming out of it with only one run. Luis Arraez hit a leadoff double, and shortly after that Minnesota loaded the bases with one out, with a Carlos Correa single and a Max Kepler walk. However, the Twins couldn’t capitalize: Jose Miranda hit a two-out ground ball to left that scored Arráez, but Correa was caught at home by a beautiful assist from left fielder Ryan McKenna, ending the inning.

Watkins would follow that shaky first inning by retiring 15 Twins in a row, making it five straight perfect innings, completely shutting down the Twins' offense. He departed the game after the sixth inning.

Ryan was just as efficient as Watkins, having retired the first eight batters he saw. The only two mistakes he made came both with two outs in the third inning when he gave up a walk to Jorge Mateo, which was followed by an RBI double by Cedric Mullins to tie the game. But that didn’t get to Ryan and he was back on track right away. After the Mullins double, he held the Baltimore bats to a 1-for-8, including a three-strikeout 1-2-3 fifth. After five innings, both offenses had combined for only five total hits.

Twins hitters didn’t only have to deal with a hot night from Watkins, but also some good Oriole defense. Several balls were decently hit but ended up right on the gloves of the well-positioned Baltimore shift. Also, McKenna robbed Arráez of an extra-base hit in the bottom of the sixth with a fantastic diving catch – it had a .036 xBA, according to Statcast.

Ryan completed seven innings, cementing one of his most dominating starts of the year. After 89 pitches, it was up to the bullpen in the eighth to keep this a close game until the offense would spark a game-winning rally. Caleb Thielbar gave up a leadoff double to the man of the night, McKenna, who would later score after a groundout and a fielder’s choice, giving Baltimore its first lead of the night. Juan Minaya, who was called up for the team earlier today, did a fine job getting the final out in the eighth, then pitching a scoreless top of the ninth.

The biggest issue was that, despite a good night from the bullpen, the offense still couldn’t break through. Even after Watkins departed the game, Twins bats still couldn’t get on base, with 21 consecutive Minnesota hitters sent down. With the bullpen keeping this an open game, the Twins got their final chance in the bottom of the ninth.

Facing reliever Jorge Lopez, Arráez broke the streak and reached base with a leadoff single, becoming the first Twins baserunner since the first inning. Then, Buxton stepped up to the plate and, despite falling 0-2 on the count, crushed a hanging slider to deep left to win the game.

What’s Next?
The Twins can secure the series win tomorrow when Sonny Gray (2.17 ERA) duels with Jordan Lyles (4.94 ERA). First pitch is scheduled for 1:10 pm CDT.

Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet

  MON TUE WED THU FRI TOT
             
Minaya 0 0 30 0 27 57
Moran 0 34 0 20 0 54
Duffey 0 12 0 28 0 40
Jax 0 21 16 0 0 37
Pagán 0 22 14 0 0 36
Duran 0 0 33 0 0 33
Thielbar 0 10 11 0 12 33
Cotton 24 0 8 0 0 32
 

 


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5 hours ago, jorgenswest said:

Lopez looks like he would fit right in with the Twins bullpen.

Can’t tell if you are joking because he gave up a walk-off homer or serious because he’s been one of the best relievers in baseball.  If the Twins trade for him, sign me up.  You know what they say—of you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.

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Orioles fans feeling the pain this morning, same pain Twins fans have been feeling all week. Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory after a great effort from your SP. 

We'll take it. Buxton becoming more and more of an all-or-nothing guy. Can be frustrating to watch but when he comes through boy it's worth the wait. 

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I typically have a cup of coffee in the morning. I've done this for decades. To be honest, I don't really have a loyalty to any brand and if I'm really honest... I can't tell the difference between Folgers and Maxwell House so I just buy whatever is on special and that becomes my brand for the next 24 days.

I decided to do a taste test. I bought two brands (Tim Horton's and Folgers) and made a cup of each and tried both side by side. 

After the taste test, I can tell you without question that I prefer a Twins Walk Off to the Twins getting walked off. Still not sure on the coffee, maybe the Tim Hortons. Maybe. 

 

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1 hour ago, AlwaysinModeration said:

Can’t tell if you are joking because he gave up a walk-off homer or serious because he’s been one of the best relievers in baseball.  

That's the beauty of his line.  @jorgenswest

If he is serious... I agree with him.

If he was joking... It was very funny. 

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Buxton's HR fixed what was another meltdown by the pen.  We still need 2 - 3 more relievers (and I understand they are not perfect) to fix the issue.  We also need 1 - 2 bulk pitchers if your starter is only going 5 innings.  This bullpen will be toast by August/September and I am afraid we may be a .500 club at that time.  

Still a great win, we have to beat the bad/mediocre clubs. (A lot)

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2 hours ago, AlwaysinModeration said:

Can’t tell if you are joking because he gave up a walk-off homer or serious because he’s been one of the best relievers in baseball.  If the Twins trade for him, sign me up.  You know what they say—of you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.

I think the correct answer could be:

 

yes

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Yes nice come from behind walk off win.  Thanks Byron and Luis!!  It helped to wipe out another bullpen blown game this time by Thielbar.  Nice for twins to walk off for a change.  We still need pitching help especially bullpen.  Great game by Ryan

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37 minutes ago, beckmt said:

Buxton's HR fixed what was another meltdown by the pen.  We still need 2 - 3 more relievers (and I understand they are not perfect) to fix the issue.  We also need 1 - 2 bulk pitchers if your starter is only going 5 innings.  This bullpen will be toast by August/September and I am afraid we may be a .500 club at that time.  

Still a great win, we have to beat the bad/mediocre clubs. (A lot)

Giving up two runs over 9 innings is not a meltdown by anyone. The offense was almost non existent, again, innings 2-8 but finally came through when we needed it.

But I do agree, our pen is scary and we need better arms.

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36 minutes ago, Squirrel said:

Giving up two runs over 9 innings is not a meltdown by anyone. The offense was almost non existent, again, innings 2-8 but finally came through when we needed it.

But I do agree, our pen is scary and we need better arms.

Starters have done a great job, Issue is the pen. 2 runs is not a bad job, but breaking it down, Ryan went 7 innings and gave up 1 run, bullpen went 2 innings and gave up 1 run.  That will not get the job done against better teams.  Fix it now.

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1 hour ago, bighat said:

Orioles fans feeling the pain this morning, same pain Twins fans have been feeling all week. Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory after a great effort from your SP. 

We'll take it. Buxton becoming more and more of an all-or-nothing guy. Can be frustrating to watch but when he comes through boy it's worth the wait. 

I do wonder if Buxton is starting to fall in love with homers, but still top 15 in OPS. Twins overall seem to be on the verge of warming up to a top 5 OPS MLB team, especially if Miranda and Kiriloff continue to hit and Polanco gets it going.

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Record = 44-36. That's another 11-9 over 20 games pace. 4 more of those = 88-72 and see if you can get the other 2.

This team is the ultimate 'marathon not a sprint' team.  Walk-off wins and losses. Been shutout and thrown shutouts. 

Every team pretty much wins & loses 60 games each.  The other 42 determine your success.

Hopefully the early season 'kids gloves' approach to starters, pays off the 2nd half.

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Overall, I'm definitely in the corner with those fed up with the bullpen right now, but I don't see how this was a "bullpen meltdown" game.  Polanco needs to make that throw for one. Minaya certainly did his job getting out of the 8th and putting up a zero in the 9th. 21 outs in a row is what put the team in that position. Thankfully Arraez and Buxton saved their best for last.

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28 minutes ago, beckmt said:

Starters have done a great job, Issue is the pen. 2 runs is not a bad job, but breaking it down, Ryan went 7 innings and gave up 1 run, bullpen went 2 innings and gave up 1 run.  That will not get the job done against better teams.  Fix it now.

Again, yes, our BP needs help. But that was still not a meltdown nor the problem in last night’s win. It is not realistic to expect a BP to never give up a run, ever. Giving up 4 in the bottom of the 10th after we scored 3 in the top of the inning, that’s a meltdown. Last night was almost a loss due to an inconsistent offense, once again. Thankfully they came through.

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The Twins have played 80 games to date and Buxton has only played in 60 of them.  I know he has been nursing a sore knee but Rocco really needs to find a way to play him more. It doesn't look all that sore when he jumps and hops around the bases after hitting walk-off HR's.

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I liked Baldelli repacing Arraez with Gordon, showing he wanted to win. But when Buck came to bat I knew he was going to hit an HR, which caused that good move to non effective. Never the less I applaud it.

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2 hours ago, beckmt said:

Buxton's HR fixed what was another meltdown by the pen. 

I might be focusing on this statement too much, but that was not a meltdown. If that is a meltdown, 80% of MLB bullpens meltdown every night of the season. Giving up runs happens. 

I feel like a meltdown requires 3+ runs to be given up.

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15 minutes ago, rv78 said:

The Twins have played 80 games to date and Buxton has only played in 60 of them.  I know he has been nursing a sore knee but Rocco really needs to find a way to play him more. It doesn't look all that sore when he jumps and hops around the bases after hitting walk-off HR's.

I'll bet that at the beginning of the season Twins fans were told Buxton would play 120 games (current pace), the majority would take it. 

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