After the Twins allowed the White Sox offense to go wild on Wednesday evening, Michael Pineda did a much better job keeping the bats at bay on Thursday afternoon. Through the first five innings, Pineda only allowed two runs on solo shots from Tim Anderson and Jake Lamb in the first and third innings, respectively.
While fans have criticized Baldelli all year for pulling his starters too early, Rocco trotted out Pineda for the sixth inning where he quickly found himself in trouble, walking the first two batters of the sixth inning. Baldelli then turned the ball over to Hansel Robles and the Twins bullpen, who again allowed an inherited runner to score after Andrew Vaughn connected for an RBI single to push the White Sox lead to 3-1.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Minnesota Twins struggled early to get anything going, connecting on only two hits through the first seven innings, though they were able to generate base runners via the base on balls, walking five times in the game.
The Twins finally found a spark at the plate in the eighth inning, led off by a solo home run from Max Kepler, cutting the lead down to 3-2.
Following the home run, the Twins strung two consecutive singles together before manager Tony La Russa decided to go to his closer and former Minnesota Twins, Liam Hendriks, to attempt a five-out save.
Hendriks was successful in doing so, as he shut down the Minnesota Twins with no trouble, taking them down in order to close out the game 4-2 following Yermin Mercedes' insurance RBI single in the eighth.
Trevor Larnach Finding Success
After achieving his first career Major League hit on Wednesday night, Larnach again found success at the plate on Thursday, connecting on a fourth-inning double with a 105 MPH exit velocity, where he would in turn come around to score the Twins first run of the game. In the fifth inning, Larnach demonstrated terrific plate discipline, drawing a nine-pitch walk off of Lance Lynn.
In a season that has been disappointing on so many levels, being able to get performances like these from rookies are big-time wins for the long-term outlook of the Minnesota Twins.
More Trouble with RISP
In what has been a consistent theme throughout the season for the Minnesota Twins, the team once again was unable to come through with runners in scoring position. Today, the Twins went 0-for-10 with RISP, lowering their average to .230 in those situations on the season. For a team that is already struggling in so many different areas, they cannot afford to melt down with runners in scoring position, but that is exactly what they have done time and time again all year.
Bullpen Usage Chart
Click here to see the bullpen usage over the past five days (link opens a Google Sheet).
Things don’t get much easier for the Minnesota Twins as they will now return to Target Field to kick off a 3-game series against the 1st place Oakland Athletics.