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  • Game Recap: Twins 5, Astros 2


    Lucas Seehafer PT

    José Berríos threw one of his greatest games of the season and big, timely hits from Miguel Sanó and Jorge Polanco helped drive the Minnesota Twins past the Houston Astros Saturday evening. Oh, and Nick Gordon was a major factor on the base paths and in centerfield.

    Image courtesy of © Brad Rempel | 2021 Jun 12

    Box Score

    José Berríos: 7 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 8 K

    Home Runs: Jorge Polanco (9)

    Top 3 WPA: José Berríos .266, Jorge Polanco .126, Miguel Sanó .104

    Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs)

    chart.png.f4d17cf85b477638a43aa2a322c43323.png

    The Minnesota Twins were in full control from the moment that José Berríos took the mound during the bottom of the first inning.

    Berríos tossed an absolute gem, striking out eight and lowering his ERA to 3.49 over the course of seven innings for one of his better performances of an already strong campaign. Other than two poorly located pitches against Kyle Tucker and Robel Garcia - the two went back-to-back during the top of the seventh inning - Berríos was virtually unhittable. 

    At the plate, the Twins tagged eight balls with an exit velocity greater than 100 mph, producing five hits. Jorge Polanco continued to display signs of returning to his 2019 form as he went 3-for-4 with a home run and three RBI. He’s slashing .300/.358/.617 with 18 hits and five home runs over his last 15 games. His current .766 OPS would be the third-best of his career behind the 2018 (.773) and 2019 (.841) seasons.

    Miguel Sanó got the scoring going for the Twins in the bottom of the fourth inning when he launched a double high off the right centerfield wall to score Trevor Larnach. He was later robbed of more RBIs when Astros’ leftfielder Michael Brantley made a sliding catch on a sinking line drive with the bases loaded.

    While it could be easily argued that Sanó has had one of the more disappointing performances during a Twins’ season littered with disappointing performances, the fact of the matter remains that he has been largely a league-average player. (His wRC+ is hovering right around 100.) There's even some evidence that he's getting a little unlucky.

    Sanó currently owns a .214 batting average on balls in play (BABIP), which is the lowest of his career by far. (He owns a .329 BABIP for his career and his previous low was in 2018 with a .286 figure.) Entering play on Saturday, the MLB average BABIP was .289. Sanó will always have a high strikeout rate and will often fail to produce in situations where, frankly, he needs to, but if he continues to put the ball in play at the current rate that he is, odds are he’ll end the season as a slightly-above average player statistically speaking.

    Another bright spot for the Twins during their win was the continued strong play of Nick Gordon. Gordon made yet another start in centerfield and once again performed quite well defensively. His initial reactions on two balls in the right centerfield gap were solid and his strong path to the ball combined with his above-average speed allowed him to make two fairly difficult catches look easy.

    Gordon went 1-for-4 at the plate, but reached base a second time after a dropped third strike rolled to the backstop. He proceeded to steal second base both times he reached, putting him in some truly rarified air. 

    The key for Gordon’s career moving forward is continuing to perform well in center. He can play a serviceable second base and, while it’s not his ideal defensive position, would be alright in fits and starts at shortstop. The biggest thing that was keeping Gordon as a fringe prospect - his health history notwithstanding - was his overall lack of power combined with mediocre arm strength. He had the speed to get to balls as short, but sometimes struggled with fielding the ball cleanly and throwing runners out. If he can show average to above-average skills in center, his value on the team will rise rather significantly. There just aren’t many role players on MLB rosters who can produce a .300 or so batting average and fill in at both shortstop, center and second base.

    Finally, and there really isn’t any way to relay this stat other than to shoehorn the bejeezus out of it, Larnach’s legs simply can’t catch a break.

    Postgame Interviews

    No postgame interviews tonight as the game was aired on Fox.

    Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet

      SUN TUE WED THU FRI SAT TOT
    Jax 0 23 51 0 0 0 74
    Duffey 14 0 0 20 22 0 56
    Farrell 13 19 0 23 0 0 55
    Alcalá 10 21 0 7 15 0 53
    Robles 15 0 0 11 0 15 41
    Shoemaker 0 0 0 0 35 0 35
    Colomé 0 9 25 0 0 0 34
    Rogers 0 20 0 0 3 9 32

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    Ben Rortvedt had a nice game.  He called the game from start to finish behind the plate, had an RBI double, and a nice sac bunt to set up a manufactured insurance run in Bottom 7.

    Lots of young guys in the lineup.  All three outfielders were rookies--Larnach, Gordon, and Killiroff.  I think that's the first time I've seen that this season.  Obviously Buxton is preferred in center--and I like Refsnyder--but the rookies have some guns too.

    Good overall win.  Hopefully can take the series tomorrow.

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    25 minutes ago, darwin22 said:

    Not living in MN area, so I may have missed this-------How much longer is Buxton expected to remain across town in SP?

    With his production over 3 games, I can't believe he's not going to be activated for upcoming roadtrip to SEA and TX.

     

    All indications point to him being activated after tomorrow's game.

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    8 hours ago, USAFChief said:

    Pretty nifty pitching, José. Would like to see that a little more often.

    In Jose's defense, he's 7-2 with a sub 3.5 ERA on a terrible team.....we'd all like to see him 13-0 right now, but c'mon.

    I've heard and seen more than one national story about Berrios being the most intriguing arm that may possibly be available at the deadline. Twins could get a LOT for him....who here would be open to seeing a deal? Have to admit I'm on the fence but I wouldn't be opposed to at least asking around.

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    Hopefully we can finally put to bed the whole "Polanco is bad" narrative that's somehow been circulating with a small number of naysayers on this board for the past season. It was never true. Give him ABs and he'll come around.

    Polanco started slowly this year, but since May he's been absolutely tearing the cover off the ball. Dude's on pace for a season very much like his All-Star 2019 season if he keeps up this pace.

    We can debate the MLB-worthiness about guys like Sano and, sadly, Kepler at this point. But Jorge Polanco doesn't belong in that conversation. Dude's solid. Stop doubting him.

     

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    Nice game by the Twins. Actually got some hits with runners in scoring position!

    If you can't root for Nick Gordon right now, you have no soul. Love seeing him seize the opportunity he's getting right now and really happy he's healthy again. Good for him.

    I got nervous when Berrios gave up the second dinger. Looked like he was mad at himself for giving up the first one and didn't get himself locked back in. Those kind of lapses are what will keep Berrios from taking the next step as a pitcher, but I think he can still figure it out. I would not trade Berrios (even if the offers are huge) unless he's made it clear that he will leave in free agency. He should be an anchor for this pitching staff for the next 5 years, IMHO.

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    I am not interested in the discussion of whether he is an ACE or not, I want Berrios on our team for the future, not traded.  We can look at this rotation and see how hard it is to have quality starters.  Pineda will probably walk, Shoemaker, Dobnak, and Happ should not be in the future rotation and Maeda is a mystery.  Trade Berrios and who is our number one?   Take out his rookie year and he is 52 - 33.   He has won 27% of our games this year.  

    Rogers and Robles in relief.  I would have had one go two innings.  Who is now available for the next game?

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    11 hours ago, blindeke said:

    Great game. Lots of fun to beat Houston!

    So great to beat the cheat (ers). What an unlikable franchise the cheating Astros are. There were well deserved boos yesterday at Target Field directed at main cheating villain Altuve and other cheaters from the Astros. 

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    Finally got to see a game last night, well most of it.

    The highlight for me was while driving home from dinner Gladden was talking about Arraez deciding he was going to slide exclusively feet first.  Considering both IL stints this year were after head first slides that would be tremendous.  This teams need guys on base when those home runs are hit and a healthy Arraez will be there often.

    Great seeing Berrios locked in last night.  Expect the Twins will get some inquiries next month.  Hopefully, they will sit down with his agent and hammer out an extension.  If not, they should only move him if someone makes that offer you cannot refuse.  And that's a heck of a lot more in return than most of the hypothetical trades I have read about.

    Good win and great start by Gordon.  Personally doubted he would ever make it after his so-so play the second half of a few seasons several years back.  But like most of us I didn't have a clue what his physical condition was, so maybe there were reasons.  But he sure as heck seems like someone that Twins should include in their plans moving forward. 

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    If Sano's BABiP gets to league average, he'll be much better than average. And if it works it's way all the way back to his career average, he'll be very, very good. Even this year, his HR/PA has been elite, better than guys like Judge and Stanton. Meanwhile, he's leading the Twins in HR and RBI...while struggling to make contact, and getting bad luck when he makes contact.

    Happy for Gordon. It's been a long journey for him. I'm pumping the breaks a bit, as it's only been 32 PA, and his BABiP is unsustainably high. Still, he looks the part of a nice piece to have on a roster.

    You can hate the Astros for cheating, but they don't have to cheat to be good. And they're proving it this year. That's a good ballclub, and this was a good win. Berrios was the star.

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    I agree its time to stop ragging on Polanco. He has definitely stepped up his game., and thats a relief! Get Buxton back up here! Don't waste anymore healthy games in the minors. The shelflife of a healthy Buxton is very short. If we can get another 15 games out of him...let it be as a Twin. I know I'm a cynic, but the history speaks loudly.

    Like to add this comment: Every year I attend an annual insurance conference in Binghamton NY. For several years our company has sponsored a golf tournament for The Black Aces for which Mudcat Grant took the lead for many years, while healthy. Had the pleasure of speaking with him on these occasions and it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience. Last one of these before COVID we got to mix it up with Al Downing. Told him when I was at Navy Supply Corps School in Athens in 1974, we would often venture to Atlanta to see some baseball. I said, I was at one particular game that was very special that April. He looked up, smiled and said, 'yeah, I was there'!! then he signed a baseball for me..

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    5 hours ago, bighat said:

    Hopefully we can finally put to bed the whole "Polanco is bad" narrative that's somehow been circulating with a small number of naysayers on this board for the past season. It was never true. Give him ABs and he'll come around.

    Polanco started slowly this year, but since May he's been absolutely tearing the cover off the ball. Dude's on pace for a season very much like his All-Star 2019 season if he keeps up this pace.

    We can debate the MLB-worthiness about guys like Sano and, sadly, Kepler at this point. But Jorge Polanco doesn't belong in that conversation. Dude's solid. Stop doubting him.

     

    He started a little slow but since May 1 he has a wRC+ of 148.  Only Garver has a better wRC+ but he has 1/2 of the ABs.  His bat looks faster to me.  IDK if he made an adjustment or it just looks faster when it's going well but he looks great right now. 

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