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Twins 3, Guardians 0: Ryan Dominates Guardians for Much-Needed Win


Saturday was a long, tough day for the Twins and their fans, but the Twins woke up on Sunday, got dressed, went to the ballpark and just continued to show up. Joe Ryan was fantastic with some help from his defense. Jake Cave gave him an early lead, and they got a couple of huge insurance runs late from a likely source. 

Image courtesy of Aaron Josefczyk-USA TODAY Sports

 

Box Score
SP: Joe Ryan: 7 2/3 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 5 K (95 pitches, 64 strikes (67.4%)
Home Runs: Jake Cave (5) 
Top 3 WPA: Joe Ryan (0.559), Carlos Correa (0.087), Luis Arraez (0.078)

Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs)

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Joe Ryan Does it Again, Well, Not Quite That, but… 
Earlier in the week, Twins starter Joe Ryan threw seven no-hit innings against the Kansas City Royals at Target Field. While disappointed, it was easy to understand why he was removed after the seventh inning, and it was said often. His next start would be his biggest start of the season. 

Well, that may or may not still be true - based on the Twins losing the first three games of this series, and being seven games back coming into the day - it was a very important game for the Twins. Saturday was a long day that ended in a double-header sweep at the hands of the Guardians. The Twins had lost eight straight games to Cleveland in key September games. The Twins needed a big outing from Ryan, and he gave it to the Twins. 

After Saturday, it was important for Ryan to start out well. He had a one-two-three first inning that included a strikeout of Twins Killer Amed Rosario and a Jose Ramirez pop-out. He got two groundouts and a strikeout in the second inning, which does mean that he had nine straight no-hit innings. He walked a guy in the third inning, but no hits again. The fourth inning was again perfect, including a ground out by Rosario and a strikeout of Ramirez. His no-hit streak ended with one out in the bottom of the fifth frame when Tyler Freeman singled. He gave up two more hits and walked two batters, but he even recorded two outs in the eighth inning. After a Myles Straw single, lefty Jovani Moran came on and got Andrew Gimenez to fly out to end the inning and officially close the book on Joe Ryan’s fantastic outing. 

Defense Comes Through 
Any great pitching performance is likely to include some help from his defense. 
In the fifth inning, there were runners on first and second with just one out, but Austin Hedges grounded into a double play.  

Then in the sixth inning, Straw led off with a double before Gimenez was hit by a pitch. Runners on first and second and nobody out. Amed Rosario stepped to the plate and grounded into a double play. Straw remained at third with Jose Ramirez to bat. The perennial MVP candidate lined a shot to deep center field, but Gilberto Celestino got a great jump and was able to run it down on a full sprint to the warning track to end the threat and maintain a 1-0 lead. 

But that catch always reminds me of another great Celestino catch, and why not show that one again…

Josh Naylor walked to lead off the seventh inning, but with one out, Richie Palacios grounded into an inning-ending double play. 

Captain Cave… Man! 
Jake Cave has had a couple of tough years the last two seasons with the Twins, at least offensively. Prior to that, he was a very solid fourth outfielder, but with the Twins injuries the last couple of seasons, he has been forced into more action than was intended, including a lot of ABs against southpaws. Last year, he missed significant time with a fractured back. 

Removed from the 40-man roster in the offseason, Cave spent most of this season at Triple-A St. Paul. He played great, getting on-base pretty much every game. In 85 games, he hit 273/.370/.509 (.879) with 20 doubles, seven triples and 14 home runs. As impressive, he continued to put up numbers as he watched player after player get called up to the Twins before he was. In fact, he was about the eighth outfielder on the depth chart when he was finally called back up. And, since then, more injuries have meant that he’s again played more than was planned. 

Now, I’m not here to say that he’s been great. I’m not saying they should bring him back. I’m just saying that he’s filled in admirably and does not deserve the online hate that he often gets. 

On Sunday afternoon, he gave the Twins their 1-0 lead in the second inning when he hit a solo homer. It was his fifth homer since joining the Twins and his second big home run in this Cleveland series. 

One general observation from watching him play with the Saints and in his return to the Twins is that he is staying down on the ball and doing a much better job driving the ball to the opposite field, as he did today. 

He has played solid defense wherever he’s been, and been happy with any opportunities he gets. And no one can ever question his effort. 

All Rise for Arraez 
Jovani Moran got the final out of the 8th inning to maintain a 1-0 lead for the Twins, but that isn’t exactly a comfortable lead. A little insurance sure would have been nice! 

The first two batters in the top of the ninth inning got out, but then Celestino walked. It was followed by a single from Mark Contreras (who had come in an inning earlier as a defensive replacement for Matt Wallner, who had two hits in the game). Nick Gordon then pinch hit for Jermaine Palacios, and he waAll-Starlked to load the bases. 

That set the stage for All Star Luis Arraez, and he came through with yet another big hit for the Twins. He lined a solid single up the middle to score two runs and give the Twins a 3-0 lead. 

In addition, Carlos Correa continued his red-hot September. With three hits on Sunday, he had his seventh multi-hit game in the month. 

Sanchez Helps Duran
Jhoan Duran has been, arguably, the most dominant reliever in baseball for much of the second half, if not all year. Obviously, Cleveland’s Emmanuel Clase is in that conversation as well. 

However, on Sunday, he didn’t display the same kind of control and command as we have seen from him throughout the season. He got the leadoff man (Rosario) out, but then he walked Jose Ramirez, and not intentionally. He started Josh Naylor off with a fastball for a ball. At that point, just four of Duran’s 11 pitches were strikes.

Personal opinion and observation… With a 1-0 count, Gary Sanchez called three straight slow(ish) sliders (the upper-80s one that drops more than the other one) and Naylor missed all three for a strikeout. Sanchez continued to call mostly breaking balls and struck out Oscar Gonzalez on the same pitch. 

Gary Sanchez is not a good defensive catcher. That’s probably putting it fairly nicely. The difference between Sanchez and Ryan Jeffers is very noticeable both by the eye test and by statistical measures. 

However, have to give credit where credit is due, Sanchez deserves credit for having Duran mix it up. With his fastball command lost in this game, Sanchez recognized it and helped Duran by calling another of his pitches, and fortunately that pitch was on. In the end, he threw 17 pitches, so he ended the game with six straight strikes to end the game with two strikeouts. 

Pre-Game Transaction
Following Saturday’s lengthy double-header, the Twins wanted to make sure they had a long-relief option. Dereck Rodriguez was terrific in his 3 2/3 innings in that role in Saturday’s late game. Unfortunately, for him, that meant that he was optioned back to St. Paul. 

Ronny Henriquez was set to start on Sunday afternoon for the Saints. Instead, he traveled to Cleveland and was activated shortly before the Twins game started. Veteran Ariel Jurado made the start for the Saints in his place. 

Henriquez came to the Twins in the Mitch Garver trade to Texas. He turned 22 years old in mid-June, and has a 3-4 record with a 5.66 ERA with the Saints. The hard-throwing Dominican has made 14 starts and come out of the bullpen ten times. While his overall numbers don’t look great, he has been much better of late. Over his past five outings, he is 1-0 with a save. In 21 innings, he has just four walks to go with 24 strikeouts. He has given up just one or two runs in four of his past five appearances. On September 7th, he gave up two runs on one hit and one walk. In five innings, he struck out nine batters. On September 13th, he came out of the bullpen and recorded a four-inning save. He gave up one run on two hits. He walked none and struck out three. In short, if he doesn’t hurt himself with walks, he can be very effective and has some really sharp, nasty stuff. Texas had already placed him on the 40-man roster, so the Twins didn’t need to make an additional 40-man roster move. 

What’s Next? 
The Twins had hoped to take at least four (if not five) games in this five-game series. On Monday afternoon, they’ll send RHP Sonny Gray (8-4, 2.83 ERA) to the mound and attempt to win a second game in a row, and in the series. The game will start at 12:05 central time and air on Bally Sports North. Cleveland will counter with RHP Cal Quantrill (12-5, 3.51 ERA).

Postgame Interviews

 

Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet

  TUE WED THU FRI SAT SUN TOT
               
Moran 40 0 0 0 15 5 60
Jax 0 0 18 22 13 0 53
Duran 0 0 19 16 0 17 52
Sanchez 0 0 0 0 49 0 49
Fulmer 0 0 21 11 17 0 49
López 0 17 0 0 32 0 49
Thielbar 0 12 12 15 0 0 39
Pagán 0 0 0 0 31 0 31
Henriquez 0 0 0 0 0 0

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Right. Sanchez throws out more base runners than MLB average and dramatically better than Jeffers. Sanchez allows fewer passed balls and wild pitches than MLB average, similar to Jeffers. Sanchez is ranked above average at pitch framing this year a bit behind Jeffers = Sanchez sucks defensively. The stats actually do not support the opinion Sanchez being a poor defensive catcher. The argument Jeffers is a significantly better defensive catcher than Sanchez seems to have no merit from a stats standpoint. Sanchez's bat does seem to have gone ice cold again over the past couple weeks, which is a bummer, but I sometimes wonder if Sanchez uses custom printed Twins Daily staffer images on his toilet paper...

Nice to see Ryan pitching deep again. Good things happen when Baldelli lets the starters who are on their game continue to pitch and go into the later innings. I can't help but feel the division title would be in play had Baldelli extended this opportunity to other rotation arms.

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27 minutes ago, FlyingFinn said:

Yea,.... the Ryan detractors are suddenly very quiet.

Who are these detractors you speak of? The ones who say Ryan has a #3 caliber rotation arm ceiling? That's me. Ryan is currently a back end starter. That does not preclude him from having great games and I think it's great that he's pitched so awesome.

Kevin Slowey had a 4 game run in 2008 that looked like this:
4 G, 29.0 IP, 0.93 ERA, 24 K, 2 BB

Kyle Gibson had a 3 game run in 2014 that looked like this:
3 G, 21.0 IP, 0.00 ERA, 16 K, 5 BB

Randy Dobnak started had a 3 game run in 2019 that looked like this:
3 G, 16.1 IP, 1.10 ERA, 13 K, 3 BB

Dylan Bundy, who has constantly been crapped on by the staff and fans of this site opened the season with:
3 G, 15.1 IP, 0.59 ERA, 12 K, 1  BB

I like Joe Ryan. I think he'll stick in the Twins rotation and he's inexpensive. I also remember he got hammered in his two previous starts before these last 2 really great games he's spun. 

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In another article, Nick says "Hope Sinks"....let's be honest.  Hope left the station a while ago.  But, today is a nice reminder that Joe Ryan will slot in very nicely as the #4 starter next year.  Maybe as he gains more experience he'll learn how to get really good lineups out.  At the very least, Mahle-Gray-Maeda-Ryan has the potential to be a very nice top 4 in the rotation in 2023.

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Nice game - we needed this - it does not put us back in the race - but it does allow us hope and pride.  Ryan has really stepped up and has the potential to continue to be better.  Wallner was expected to be Sano #2, but he is a much better hitter and willing to get singles to go with his HRs. 

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If only we could’ve won Friday/last game of twin bill Saturday. Ugh!!!! Still a big win-if we win today/sox sweep Cleveland/us KC sox series at end of season could decide division-it’s a long shot highly unlikely but you never know. I’ll always watch the twins no matter what as this season has been roller coaster as this will only be learning experience as I think future is bright and 2023 will be big year for us

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8 hours ago, HerbieFan said:

In another article, Nick says "Hope Sinks"....let's be honest.  Hope left the station a while ago.  But, today is a nice reminder that Joe Ryan will slot in very nicely as the #4 starter next year.  Maybe as he gains more experience he'll learn how to get really good lineups out.  At the very least, Mahle-Gray-Maeda-Ryan has the potential to be a very nice top 4 in the rotation in 2023.

Are we certain Mahle will be healthy next year? I’m not sure we know enough to slot him in the rotation, let alone at the top, quite yet. The entire situation just feels like classic Twins: big trade, immediate arm issues, il, rest, try to avoid surgery, come back to pitch a bit, reinjury, surgery, out for year, blah, blah, blah.  Hope I’m wrong. Regardless, Ryan will be a big part of the rotation next year - deservedly. 

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I was referring more to the people claiming the Twins had "given up" after they lost the last couple games. That must be why Joe Ryan gave up hits in this game, he's quit on his team. If he was really trying he would have thrown 7 more hitless innings.

According to most posters here you can tell pretty easily when the Twins have given up. When they lose it was because they weren't trying (mostly due to Rocco's uninspiring leadership). When they win it was because they had passion for the game that day (despite Rocco's uninspiring leadership, of course).

The Twins aren't going to win the division this season but it isn't for lack of trying.

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2 hours ago, DJL44 said:

We're not certain any pitcher will be healthy next year but Mahle shouldn't have a career ending injury.

And you know this because…….? Obviously, nothing is certain, including any player’s health or extent of recovery from injury. 

A career ending injury would be tragic for the young man. Pray that’s not the case. Let’s hope he’s back better than ever; of course, starting next year at the top of our rotation (as opposed to 2024 at the top of another team’s rotation).

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5 hours ago, Nashvilletwin said:

Are we certain Mahle will be healthy next year? I’m not sure we know enough to slot him in the rotation, let alone at the top, quite yet. The entire situation just feels like classic Twins: big trade, immediate arm issues, il, rest, try to avoid surgery, come back to pitch a bit, reinjury, surgery, out for year, blah, blah, blah.  Hope I’m wrong. Regardless, Ryan will be a big part of the rotation next year - deservedly. 

How many times has this actually happened to the Twins?

Paddack (whom they knew it was a concern and decided it was worth the risk. YMMV on that one). I know Cody listed Maeda, but we had a fantastic season from him before he went down...so no immediate arm issues there. Dyson wasn't a "big" trade by any stretch of the imagination (dealt for 2 lottery ticket pitchers, one of whom is no longer in the SF system and Jaylin Davis, who got 3 cups of coffee in MLB with SF before being waived, picked up by Boston and is now back not hitting for the BoSox in AAA)

Odorizzi had 2 healthy years before getting injured. Phil Hughes & Michael Pineda were signed as FA, and both had at least one healthy season anyways. 

It's been bad luck this year, in a season where a little good injury luck would have made a HUGE difference, but I dunno if there's really a pattern for the franchise.

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9 minutes ago, jmlease1 said:

How many times has this actually happened to the Twins?

Paddack (whom they knew it was a concern and decided it was worth the risk. YMMV on that one). I know Cody listed Maeda, but we had a fantastic season from him before he went down...so no immediate arm issues there. Dyson wasn't a "big" trade by any stretch of the imagination (dealt for 2 lottery ticket pitchers, one of whom is no longer in the SF system and Jaylin Davis, who got 3 cups of coffee in MLB with SF before being waived, picked up by Boston and is now back not hitting for the BoSox in AAA)

Odorizzi had 2 healthy years before getting injured. Phil Hughes & Michael Pineda were signed as FA, and both had at least one healthy season anyways. 

It's been bad luck this year, in a season where a little good injury luck would have made a HUGE difference, but I dunno if there's really a pattern for the franchise.

Agree - not a pattern for the franchise - just this FO (you just listed four happening in the last couple of years, three of which could result in actually no benefit at all to the organization). Actually, I was just being a bit facetious, but I will admit I’m not a fan of the “bad luck” excuse - despite our bad luck on the injury front, this team was capable of much more this season.

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