Michael Pineda: 4 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 1 K (60.9% strikes)
Homeruns: Jeffers (3), Cruz (13)
Bottom 3 WPA: Dobnak (-.161), Pineda (-.117), Larnach (-.074)
Win Probability Chart (via Fangraphs)
Twins too Aggressive Early, Never Put Together a Threat
Framber Valdez is a very good pitcher for the Astros, but shouldn’t have been as effective as his box score looked over his seven innings. The first indication is the three walks he surrendered in just three-and-a-third innings when he averages less than two walks per nine innings, but look a little closer and it’s clear the Twins were really helping him out.
He’d follow up the first two innings with a four pitch walk of Andrelton Simmons which lowered his strike percentage to just 37% on the day, but really settled in after that with the only real scathe on his record being an absolute moon shot from Ryan Jeffers in the fifth inning.
In all, Jeffers had a good day at the plate hitting all three of his balls-in-play harder than 96 miles per hour and having a .510 xBA despite only one hit. In continued good news, Jorge Polanco and Nelson Cruz also continued stinging the ball today, including Cruz hitting his 13th home run of the season in the 8th inning with the game far out of reach.
Twins Pitching Staff Gets Rocked from Start to Finish
In short, this might be all you need to know about today’s team pitching performance for your favorite boys of summer…
In length, after allowing back-to-back hits to start the game, Pineda was able to sit down 11 consecutive Astros hitters although the metrics behind those at-bats may suggest that the fourth inning two-out rally was inevitable.
The Astros had been tagging balls off of Pineda all afternoon and sported an xBA of .281 heading into the fourth inning. Regardless, Pineda was one Donaldson diving grab from a 1-2-3 fourth inning, even still had only given up three earned runs, and thrown just 64 pitches before being pulled for the “bullpen”. I put that in quotes because in his place, Rocco Baldelli went with starter, turned reliever, turned starter, turned reliever Randy Dobnak who had started just four days prior.
It didn’t take long for the Astros to assert their dominance over Dobnak, including 41st percentile sprint speedster Yordan Alvarez swiping his first Major League base and hitting a no-doubt 425 foot shot in the next inning. In just two innings of work, Dobnak was responsible for eight baserunners and six earned runs which has increased his season ERA to 8.38. What was really interesting, and maybe telling, to me (and Ted) was how Baldelli and/or Wes Anderson handled Dobnak getting shelled
Pineda and Dobnak weren’t the only two to get stung by the Astros. Alex Colomé came on in the 7th and gave up two runs, Shoemaker entered in the 8th giving up two runs including a 420 foot blast to Chas McCormick on his third pitch of the inning and an additional run in the 9th.
I don’t know how much to read into the bullpen usage in this game. All three relievers have struggled mightily this year, but specifically using Dobnak and Shoemakers as relievers and leaving them out there when they were clearly struggling to get outs was interesting. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a move or two before the Twins leave for their six-game road trip against Seattle and Texas.