Twins jump ahead with two quick solo homers
The Twins offense put a couple of runs on the board really early. For the second consecutive time, Minnesota’s leadoff hitter smashed a homer to open the game. Kyle Garlick took Tigers’ starter Tarik Skubal deep on the fifth pitch he saw, to make it 1-0. Skubal bounced back and struck out the next three batters, but the damage had already been done.
In spite of the much-needed early production, the overall struggle of some key pieces of the lineup continued. Garlick doubled in his second time up, but other than his two hits and that of Polanco’s, every other Twins hitter was retired during the first three innings of the game. The third Twin to record a hit in the night was Josh Donaldson and he did it unintentionally, trying to pull back mid-swing.
Shoemaker tosses five shutout innings
Fortunately, Shoemaker did his job very well. After an awful start in Kansas City last Saturday, Matt got back on track, keeping Detroit scoreless through four, before the game was interrupted by the rain in the middle of the fifth. His outing was in no way uneventful, though. Up until that moment, he had given up four hits and a total of five hard-hit balls.
He pitched himself into a jam in the second when he gave up back-to-back singles to open the inning, but he managed to induce an inning-ending double play. That happened again later on, in the fourth, when he gave up a leadoff walk to Jeimer Candelario, followed by a Miguel Cabrera single that had nearly 106 mph exit velocity, sending Candelario to third. He managed to retire the next three batters to end the threat.
After a 35-minute rain delay, Shoemaker came back anyway to pitch the fifth and get in line for his second win as a Twin. After retiring the first two batters quickly, he gave up a two-out walk to old friend Robbie Grossman but went on to strike out another former Twin in Jonathan Schoop to conclude his best start with Minnesota.
Polanco, Sanó, Kepler show encouraging signs. The bullpen doesn’t
Skubal didn’t come back for the sixth and the Twins immediately took advantage of that, facing righty Bryan Garcia and adding a couple more insurance runs. Polanco and Miguel Sanó drew back-to-back one-out walks, just to have Max Kepler single to center and bring Polanco home. Andrelton Simmons followed up with a groundout to score Sanó and just like that, the Twins were up 4-0.
Before hitting that RBI-single, Kepler was riding a 1-for-13 funk in the last four games. Also, Sanó’s BB% for the season went up to 21.4% after that walk, by far the best season of his career on that front. If his bat was still cold, at least he had walks to show for.
But things just can’t be easy for the 2021 Twins. Coming in for Shoemaker, Cody Stashak had four consecutive scoreless outings, possibly indicating that he could be trusted. After giving up a leadoff single to Candelario and a four-pitch walk to Cabrera, Stashak hung a changeup in the middle of the zone and Willi Castro crushed it, to put Detroit right back in the game with a three-run homer. All three hits that Stashak gave up in the sixth had at least 98.5 mph exit velocity, with Candelario’s nearly reaching 108 mph.
The bottom of the lineup comes up big after a second rain delay
The tarp came out again before the start of the seventh and this time the rain delay lasted over an hour. When play was resumed, Minnesota managed to manufacture a huge insurance run. Donaldson hit a one-out double, just before Mitch Garver drew his second walk of the night, to put two men on for Polanco. Jorge didn’t hesitate and jumped at the second pitch of the at-bat and doubled in the Twins’ fifth run of the night. This was Polanco’s second to-hit game of the week.
Alexander Colomé pitched a scoreless, 1-2-3 inning in the bottom of the seventh and completed three consecutive outings without allowing a run. This had not happened so far this season. Then, to lead off the eighth, Kepler hit a clutch 422-feet bomb, to provide the Twins with more run support. And, hey, it was against a lefty!
Hansel Robles came in to pitch a dominant eighth inning. But it didn’t look good at first, as he got ahead of Cabrera with a 0-2 count, but then lost him with four consecutive balls. But he pitched around that walk throwing ten strikes in the next 13 pitches, retiring the following three batters. His fastball averaged nearly 96 mph and he almost touched 98 mph at some point.
Then it was Sanós turn. Donaldson reached for the third time in the game, now drawing a walk to open the top of the ninth. Tigers’ reliever Daniel Norris also gave up a walk to Polanco, before facing Sanó with two men on. Miguel had no mercy and hit an RBI-single that put the final numbers on the score. To guarantee the win, Caleb Thielbar pitched a quick, 1-2-3 ninth inning on 12 pitches.
Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet
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