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  • Game Recap: Twins 7, Tigers 3

    Minnesota opened a three-game road series in Detroit, in a game with not one, but two rain delays. Struggling bats shook off their slumps and provided a late surge that helped the Twins snap a three-game losing streak. Shoemaker also delivered solid five scoreless innings and earned his second win as a Twin.

    Image courtesy of © Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

    Box Score
    Shoemaker: 5.0 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 5 K
    Home Runs: Garlick (1), Polanco (2), Kepler (2)
    Top 3 WPA: Shoemaker .291, Polanco .238, Kepler .149
    Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs😞


    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
    Click here to see the bullpen usage over the past five days (link opens a Google Sheet).



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    Exactly what was needed to start off this series and potentially kick things into gear (if it's gonna happen, it's going to be now). Garlick is one hit in the margin for this FO, and he's shown that against LHP. Cruz seems to be in a bit of a funk right now, but I think he'll be just fine. Nice to see Polo, Cruz, and Kepler all provide a spark tonight, they'll be key without Buxton and AK. Shoemaker did enough to earn another start, and Stashak did the opposite. That spot needs to turn into Giabult/Sparkman/Law/Anderson/Thorpe etc until someone proves that they can get outs. Stashak was so good last year, but his control is gone and he's getting hit hard.

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    *Polanco, Sanó, Kepler show encouraging signs. The bullpen doesn’t*


    Allow me to fix that:


    “Polanco, Sano, Kepler show encouraging signs. Cody Stashak doesn’t”


    Stashak gave up all of the runs, the rest of the pen was solid. That being said, this was all against the worst team in the league, and it’s not close. Robles looked good and Colome was getting more Whiffs with his cutter.

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    Tempted to be optimistic about Shoemaker, but he was facing the lowly Tigers, not a good team. 


    Best sign of this game was Kepler's two dingers. If Der Kid has found his home run stroke, we have seen before what he can do. He could have a two-week stretch where he's tearing the cover off the ball. When that happens, teams will walk him every at bat, so you follow Kep with your second hottest hitter.


    Another good game for Garlick. Could be a gamer. How is Stashak still on the active roster? Is there seriously nobody in the minors that will not walk two guys, then serve up a cookie?

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    To see the Twins catch their breath with the rain delay and come out and add more insurance was nice.


    Detroit is awful, might be the only team worse than the Twins in the AL right now. At this point, if the Twins really are a .500 ballclub or better, they should have no problems with the Tigers and should sweep them. Desperate for wins and on the ropes with terrible injuries, now isn't the time to rest anyone or put on the brakes.


    Garlick, Cave, and Kepler is the outfield from now on? Yeesh.


    Time for Donaldson and/or Cruz to start carrying this team. This is what they are here for.


    I think when Stashak blew the 4-0 lead and it became 4-3, many of us didn't know if we could take any more. The bullpen continues to disappoint, today it was Stashak's turn but it's always someone. The guy's been pretty bad this year, time for a change. Call St. Paul.



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    We needed the win and so did Shoemaker, but I have to temper my enthusiasm when our opponent had only one player hitting more than .222 in the lineup and the majority hitting under 200.  Stashak really disappointed.  What a season.  At least we have one team below us in the entire MLB standings and we are playing them.  Actually the win gave us 1/2 game over Colorado!  Keep climbing boys the Pirates are only 1 game ahead of us.  

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    This game showed how bad the Tigers are more than offering any hope for the Twins. Baddoo looked silly out there celebrating his first hit in 20 ABs. Were they really trying to get the ball when Miggy broke his 0-27? Pathetic.


    Robles is walking almost 6 per 9 innings and has an unsustainably low (both league average and personally) BABIP of .121. The breakdown is coming.

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    Robles is walking almost 6 per 9 innings and has an unsustainably low (both league average and personally) BABIP of .121. The breakdown is coming.

    It’s not like he’s giving up smoke rockets to the warning track. Most of the time it’s routine grounders. An example of BABIP being meaningful was Kirilloff’s start. An example of it not was Polanco’s start.


    He’s gotten 34 Outs on BIP:

    3 of them Barrels

    1 of them Solid Contact

    3 of them Flares/Burners

    27 of them Poor (combines Under, Topped, and Weak)

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    I think when Stashak blew the 4-0 lead and it became 4-3, many of us didn't know if we could take any more. The bullpen continues to disappoint, today it was Stashak's turn but it's always someone. The guy's been pretty bad this year, time for a change. Call St. Paul.


    St. Paul the team or St. Paul the man? Divine intervention could be useful for this team.

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