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  • Game Score: Angels 6, Twins 2


    Matt Braun

    The Twins followed up losing a close game on Saturday by… losing a less close game on Sunday. This one played out in a different way, but the result stayed the same. Read about what happened on Sunday here. 

    Image courtesy of © Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

     

    Box Score

    Bailey Ober: 5 ⅓ IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K (67.7% strikes)
    HR: Max Kepler (13), Brent Rooker (2)
    Bottom 3 in WPA: Miguel Sanó (-0.236), Jorge Alcala (-0.149), Danny Coulombe (-0.109)
    Win Probability Chart (via Fangraphs)

    chart.png.4cfce91d294dbf5adeae4822dde8a59b.png

    Early Offense

    Saturday night was characterized by a distinct lack of hitting ability, but Sunday quickly proved to be a different story. Max Kepler continued his hot streak by blasting a lead-off homer to kick off the scoring. In the time it took this author to inform his mom of what Kepler did, Brent Rooker, the breaker of no-hitters, absolutely launched a titanic bomb that landed somewhere in Canada. 

    Coming into the game, Kepler had been slugging .597 since July 4th (date chosen for no particular reason). A streak of good health has been a blessing for the outfielder who has been inconsistent since his 2019 breakout. For Rooker, the opportunity is golden. The DH spot is wide open now that Nelson Cruz is on the Rays, and Rooker must impress in a speedy manner if he wishes to be a mainstay in 2022 and beyond. Blasting a ball like that off of a righty is an excellent start.

    A Familiar Face Returns

    Jake Cave made his first start for the Twins since May 12th. The added depth is much welcomed as the team has run through approximately 1053 different center fielders in 2021. Cave can provide relief for a struggling Gilberto Celestino. This is more of a result of improper seasoning than an indictment on Celestino’s upside, which simply needs more time to be seen. At any rate, it’s good to see Cave back off the IL.

    Ober The Hills And Far Away

    The oak-like rookie made another impressive start on Sunday. Ober punched out four while allowing a pair of earned runs in what is now his longest career start (5 ⅓ IP). Ober could have gone longer, but the team has been especially careful in limiting his innings in 2021 since he did not get to pitch in games in 2020. His xFIP of 4.19 on the year places him among names like Zack Greinke, Aaron Civale, and Casey Mize.

    Ober may only make a handful of starts down the stretch, though. Sunday’s affair brought him to 59 ⅓ innings pitched split between St. Paul and Minnesota in 2021. His previous high mark came in 2019 when Ober threw 78 ⅔ innings between three levels of the minors. It is unclear just how many more innings the team will allow him to throw-either in an effort to match his career high or lightly pass it-but it can be solidly predicted that the team will be conservative in his workload going forward. Enjoy watching him while you can!

    Where Did The Momentum Go?

    Despite getting off to a fast 2-0 start, the Twins let their lead slowly slip away. Max Stassi proved to be an especially pesky enemy as he tripled and homered to bring the game to a tie. With the game tied, the unrivaled Shohei Ohtani took one look at a hanging Danny Coulombe slider and bazooka’d it out of right field. 

    After Rooker’s homerun, the Twins offense let Jamie Barria settle into a groove. The righty put the homers behind him, and cruised through seven innings of work with just four baserunners allowed after the homers. None of the two Twins hits after the 1st went for extra bases. The inability of the Twins to push more runs across after getting off to such a hot start has been an issue the entire season and, once again, put a dent in their chances of winning on Sunday.

    It was a close 3-2 game headed into the top of the 9th. The game was still well within grasp for the Twins even if they did not have the strongest part of the lineup set up for the bottom of the inning. But, things got messy. Jorge Alcala gave up a single, a double, and another single in succession, and the Angels notched two more runs. Los Angeles would have six runs on the board when it was all said and done. 

    Postgame Interviews

     

    Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet 

      TUE WED THU FRI SAT SUN TOT
    Colomé 26 22 0 11 0 10 69
    Alcala 24 0 0 0 10 24 58
    Duffey 0 38 0 0 0 0 38
    Thielbar 17 16 0 0 16 0 49
    Coulombe 5 0 32 0 0 18 55
    Rogers 0 0 0 18 0 0 18
    Robles 7 0 0 0 0 0 7
    Minaya 0 0 0 20 0 0 20

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    Happy to see Rooker with a HR and more importantly no strike outs.  If he keeps hitting the ball, good things are going to happen eventually.  Also means he has a chance to stick this time.

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    No question, Angels nabbing 3 of 4 primarily due to the lack of offense.  Without Cruz and Kirillof, this is a well below average offense.  Rocco must give Garver and Sano plenty of playing time, not only to help spark a languid offense, but to better assess what help they will be next year and beyond.  With Bux's status even more uncertain, this team must find some answers on the offensive side as well as pitching.  Right now, hopes for a rebound in 2022 are looking mighty slim.

    One more thing.  This org. better decide soon whether Alcala can be fixed.  He has been a huge disappointment in my mind and cannot at all be counted on being a positive member of the pen going forward.  Better start bringing the rooks up after trade deadline and see now whether they can provide some hope for the future.  This current bullpen is a dumpster fire!

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    2 hours ago, mike8791 said:

    No question, Angels nabbing 3 of 4 primarily due to the lack of offense.  Without Cruz and Kirillof, this is a well below average offense.  Rocco must give Garver and Sano plenty of playing time, not only to help spark a languid offense, but to better assess what help they will be next year and beyond.  With Bux's status even more uncertain, this team must find some answers on the offensive side as well as pitching.  Right now, hopes for a rebound in 2022 are looking mighty slim.

    One more thing.  This org. better decide soon whether Alcala can be fixed.  He has been a huge disappointment in my mind and cannot at all be counted on being a positive member of the pen going forward.  Better start bringing the rooks up after trade deadline and see now whether they can provide some hope for the future.  This current bullpen is a dumpster fire!

    Absolutely agree with you regarding Alcala.  His lack of command and propensity to allow innings to spiral out of control has continued to be a depressing trend.  Count me 100% "in" regarding your position "to start bringing up the rookies" the remainder of this season.  Although not a rookie, Ian Hamilton, has been deserving of a promotion for several weeks.  Jovanni Moran and to a possibly lesser degree, Cano...I'd like to see get innings the last 2 months.  Ryan Mason at Wichita also, imo, deserves at least a promotion to Saint Paul.  This group should be coupled with our 2 recent acquisitions from Tampa.

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    This is Alcala’s first full season. If they don’t want to endure the growing pains of a young pitcher the alternative  is trading them while they are prospects and use free agency for the pitching staff.

    I did wonder why Alcala was the choice. He pitched yesterday. Robles and Duffey had several days of rest. Robles threw 7 pitches this week. Neither a Rogers or Minaya pitched yesterday. Why Alcala?

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    4 hours ago, MMMordabito said:

    Fire Baldelli. If this time of year in this situation isn't the time to see how a guy having a good day on the mound can handle a tough hitter a third time, I don't know what is.  Interest in his brand of baseball is waning. 

    I could not agree more - Ober was disgusted - see his body language.   If you are going to limit him, just shut him down when you want, but until them, let him be a pitcher and go as deep as he can. 

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