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)
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.
No postgame interviews tonight as the game was aired on Fox.
Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet
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