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  • Game Recap: Twins 7, Yankees 5


    Matthew Taylor


    In a plot twist more shocking than anything you’ll see from Hollywood, the Minnesota Twins toppled the New York Yankees in dramatic fashion thanks to 9th inning heroics from 2 veterans.

    Image courtesy of © Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

    Box Score

    Happ: 5.0 IP, 8 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 2 K

    Home Runs: Donaldson (8), Cruz (11)

    Top 3 WPA: Cruz .447, Donaldson .376, Astudillo .074

    Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs)

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    Coming into Thursday night’s game, the Minnesota Twins were leaning on the left arm of J.A. Happ to avoid a 3-game sweep against the evil empire, a tall task considering how the free agent had been performing up to that point. 

    Early on, the game started how all Twins fans imagined that it might, as the righty-heavy New York Yankees lineup got to Happ early, capped off by cleanup hitter Giancarlo Stanton launching a three-run blast to the batter’s eye off Happ in the top of the 1st inning to give the Yankees an early 3-0 lead.

    After settling down a bit in the 2nd and 3rd, the Yankees got to Happ again in the 4th inning when third baseman, Gio Urshela, hit a solo home run.

    In his start, Happ threw 101 pitches across 5 innings, allowing 8 hits, 4 earned runs, and a walk while striking out just 2. The start marked Happ’s third in a row that he was unable to get past 5 innings and his 7th consecutive “non-quality” start. Through 11 starts, Happ now owns a 5.75 ERA and on an expiring contract brings almost no trade value to a team desperate for tradeable assets.

    The Twins’ bullpen did a nice job keeping the Yankee bats at bay, aside from Tyler Duffey in the 6th inning who allowed the Yankees to connect on 3 hits, including an RBI single from D.J. LeMahieu to give the Yankees their 5th run of the ballgame. After that, the Twins received scoreless innings from Jorge Alcala, Luke Farrell and Hansel Robles to keep the game within reach.

    For much of the game, the 5 runs for the Yankees looked as if they would be enough, as the Twins were unable to form any rallies or score runs in bunches, limiting their damage to singular runs in the 1st, 4th and 7th innings with an RBI double from Andrelton Simmons along with 2 RBI from Nelson Cruz.

    Heading into the 9th inning, the Minnesota Twins were down 5-3 and the game seemed that it was inevitably headed towards the same fate as so many games from Twins/Yankees past with Aroldis Chapman on the mound, ready to close out yet another Yankee sweep.

    The Minnesota Twins’ veterans had other plans, though, as the top of the order came up to bat and immediately showed that they were seeing Chapman well. Polanco led off the inning with a single before Josh Donaldson tied up the game on a 1-0 fastball that he launched to left center for a game-tying home run.

     

    The Minnesota Twins weren’t satisfied with just tying the game, though, as the Twins quickly looked to keep the momentum rolling. Immediately following the Donaldson home run, Willians Astudillo knocked a single before Nelson Cruz came up to the plate and mashed the first pitch of the at-bat, a 97 miles-per-hour fastball to center field to win the game for the Minnesota Twins.

     

    In total, Aroldis Chapman threw just 9 pitches, allowing 4 runs on 4 hits and giving the Minnesota Twins the win.

    Another Injury for the Home Team

    In a season that has largely been defined by injuries for the Minnesota Twins, yet another player fell victim to the injury bug in Thursday night’s game, Alex Kirilloff. Kirilloff was forced to leave the game after fielding Gio Urshela’s triple in the first inning. Per media, Kirilloff has what has been diagnosed as a left low-grade ankle sprain.

     

    Another Big Night for Nick

    The injury to Alex Kirilloff forced the Minnesota Twins to move Gilberto Celestino to right field and thrust utility infielder, Nick Gordon, in center field. Gordon pleasantly more than held his own out in centerfield and did not look overmatched at all, a huge development for the future career of the Twins former first round draft pick. At the plate, Gordon went 2-for-3 and raised his batting average to .435.

    Twins Bullpen Usage

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    I too kept a wandering eye on the game but around the 8th inning figured this was going to go down like all the rest.  I went to bed early and when I checked in at TD I had to look at the headline multiple times as I thought I was misreading it and then it dawned on me to actually read the article and I could not believe they won.  My brain just couldn't handle the truth.  Well at least it was a pleasant surprise.

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    Even in the first two losses, the Twins did not give up in the late innings and brought runners around.  The player who showed real unwillingness not to stay down today was, strangely enough, JA Happ.

    Already down 0-3 in the top of the first with Gio Urshela on third, Happ lost control of a 92mph fastball that bounced off Rortvedt's glove (oddly neither a WP or a PB) and sailed to the backstop.  Rortvedt leapt after the ball which had bounced back towards home. Rather than assuming the runner would score and making a half-hearted attempt to cover, Happ put his body on the line.  While taking a bouncing underhand throw from the catcher with his pitching hand, Happ slid across the plate to block Urshela's (dumb) head-first slide and rolled onto him to apply the tag. The block was legal since Happ was receiving an on-target throw for the out, and could have been perilous for him if Urshela had come in feet-first (as the Yankee runner was likewise entitled to do).

    Happ gave up another run later and did not get the win.  He certainly has not thrown as well as he or the rest of us would have hoped this season, but in doing what it took to prevent another run and get the third out he set an example for his teammates and contributed to the comeback.  I'm glad he's on our team.

     

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    Recall the data that helped influence Twins' strategy earlier in the Yankee series. Inexperienced Jax came in to pitch a critical situation. Some felt it was an okay managerial move considering the fact that it's likely Chapman would have come in and mopped up if the Twins kept it close. It's impossible to predict what happened to Twins hitters in the 9th inning last night. That sort of thing is rare and exciting, to be sure, but because we're talking about human beings anything is always possible. If Chapman is in complete command, he dominates. Or he can only throw fastballs and leave them flat and fat.  This could have happened in the previous game -- knocking the crap out of Chapman in the bottom of the 9th. But we'll never know.  

     

     

     

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    12 minutes ago, Grasslander said:

    Recall the data that helped influence Twins' strategy earlier in the Yankee series. Inexperienced Jax came in to pitch a critical situation. Some felt it was an okay managerial move considering the fact that it's likely Chapman would have come in and mopped up if the Twins kept it close. It's impossible to predict what happened to Twins hitters in the 9th inning last night. That sort of thing is rare and exciting, to be sure, but because we're talking about human beings anything is always possible. If Chapman is in complete command, he dominates. Or he can only throw fastballs and leave them flat and fat.  This could have happened in the previous game -- knocking the crap out of Chapman in the bottom of the 9th. But we'll never know.  

     

     

     

    You’re technically right, but I don’t mind them playing the probabilities. 

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    5 hours ago, Nine of twelve said:

    WP and PB are scored as such only if a runner advances as a result of the play. It didn't show up in the box score I saw but I'm pretty sure this type of play is scored as a caught stealing.

    It is scored as a fielder’s choice, actually, not a caught stealing (unless the runner was attempting to advance before the ball got away from the catcher). You are correct that no WP or PB is scored.

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    2 hours ago, Grasslander said:

    Recall the data that helped influence Twins' strategy earlier in the Yankee series. Inexperienced Jax came in to pitch a critical situation. Some felt it was an okay managerial move considering the fact that it's likely Chapman would have come in and mopped up if the Twins kept it close. It's impossible to predict what happened to Twins hitters in the 9th inning last night. That sort of thing is rare and exciting, to be sure, but because we're talking about human beings anything is always possible. If Chapman is in complete command, he dominates. Or he can only throw fastballs and leave them flat and fat.  This could have happened in the previous game -- knocking the crap out of Chapman in the bottom of the 9th. But we'll never know.  

    That was me. :)

    Wasn’t just because of Chapman though — our 6-7-8 hitters were due up in the 9th in the Jax game, not 1-2-3 like last night. Also, we had already used 4 relievers in the Jax game, including Rogers and Farrell, two of our best at the moment. Even if you manage to come back from down 2 and force a tie, you have less bullpen ammunition if it goes to extras.

    And it cuts both ways — last night, Robles retired Judge, Torres, and Stanton (2-3-4) in the top of the 9th just before our comeback against Chapman. If you use Robles in the earlier game, that could have impacted his availability or effectiveness last night (Yankees hadn’t seen him yet this year).

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    1 hour ago, spycake said:

    It is scored as a fielder’s choice, actually, not a caught stealing (unless the runner was attempting to advance before the ball got away from the catcher). You are correct that no WP or PB is scored.

    It was NOT a fielder's choice, because there was no other runner on whom a play could have been made. If a runner attempts to advance a base without the ball being put in play by the batter it is an attempted steal no matter when he attempts to advance.

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    4 minutes ago, Nine of twelve said:

    It was NOT a fielder's choice, because there was no other runner on whom a play could have been made. If a runner attempts to advance a base without the ball being put in play by the batter it is an attempted steal no matter when he attempts to advance.

    I appreciate that fielder’s choice may not be the technical term to apply, but this play was not scored as a caught stealing at MLB.com or Baseball Reference or anywhere else I can find. B-R says “Baserunner Out Advancing”.

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    2 minutes ago, spycake said:

    I appreciate that fielder’s choice may not be the technical term to apply, but this play was not scored as a caught stealing at MLB.com or Baseball Reference or anywhere else I can find. B-R says “Baserunner Out Advancing”.

    You may be correct. I know that pickoffs are counted as caught stealing so I assumed that if the runner is trying to advance that the same thing applies.

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    5 minutes ago, Nine of twelve said:

    You may be correct. I know that pickoffs are counted as caught stealing so I assumed that if the runner is trying to advance that the same thing applies.

    I think I found the relevant scoring rule (this same file was at MLB.com too but the link wasn't working):

    https://foulballz.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/10_the_official_scorer.pdf

    Quote

    Rule 10.07(h) Comment: In those instances where a pitched ball eludes the catcher and the runner is put out trying to advance, the official scorer shall not charge any “caught stealing.” ... The official scorer shall not charge a runner with a caught stealing if such runner would not have been credited with a stolen base had such runner been safe (for example, when a catcher throws the runner out after such runner tries to advance after a ball that had eluded the catcher on a pitch).

     

    Regarding "fielder's choice", the summary I saw omitted some important context (emphasis mine):

    Quote

    Rule 10.13 Comment: The official scorer shall not charge a wild pitch or passed ball if the defensive team makes an out before any runners advance. For example, if a pitch touches the ground and eludes the catcher with a runner on first base, but the catcher recovers the ball and throws to second base in time to retire the runner, the official scorer shall not charge the pitcher with a wild pitch. The official scorer shall credit the advancement of any other runner on the play as a fielder’s choice.

     

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    1 minute ago, spycake said:

    I think I found the relevant scoring rule (this same file was at MLB.com too but the link wasn't working):

    https://foulballz.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/10_the_official_scorer.pdf

     

    Regarding "fielder's choice", the summary I saw omitted some important context (emphasis mine):

     

    Interesting. Seems like one of those quirks where a new term needs to be defined to clarify the play.

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