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  • Game Score: Royals 5, Twins 3


    Matthew Lenz

    The Twins drop the series rubber match and fall to 63-80 on the season with a 5-3 loss to the Kansas City Royals on Sunday. Buxton, Brent, Bailey, and the Bullpen tried their best but the top of the Royals lineup was too much for the Twins. That and more in today's recap!

    Image courtesy of © Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

    Box Score
    Bailey Ober: 4.1 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 6 K (65.3-percent strikes)
    Homeruns: none
    Bottom 3 WPA: Sano (-.409), Alcala (-.184), Astudillo (-.154)
    Win Probability Chart (via Fangraphs)
    1070122881_chart(1).png.5cef3915cb7836eeaa6f30d291da2027.png

    Another Strong Start from Bailey Ober
    Take out the first six batters that Ober faced today and you would remove three of the five hits he gave up and both earned runs. Whit Merrifield and Nicky Lopez got things going early for the Royals offense with a double and single, respectively, followed by a Salvador Perez sacrifice fly giving the Royals an early 1-0 lead. Ober got out of the jam with back-to-back flyouts before giving up a 403 foot homerun to Adalberto Mondesi to begin the 2nd inning. He settled in quickly after the homerun, striking out six of the next seven batters he faced and retiring nine consecutive batters total, before giving up a single to Ryan O’Hearn to start the fifth. The O’Hearn single, coupled with a single from Sebastian Rivero in the nine hole, would mark the end Ober’s day as he was slated to face Merrifield with one out and runners on 1st and 2nd. Despite being at just 75 pitches, he was pulled in favor of recent call-up and fellow rookie reliever, Jovani Moran rather than being asked to face the top of the Royals lineup for a third time.

    Sometimes there is more to strong starts than innings pitched and strikeouts, especially when you’re looking for positives in an otherwise awful year. Ober has been a nice surprise for the Twins rotation as today marks his ninth consecutive starts of three earned runs or less. The naysayers will bring up the lack of the innings, many of those starts are five innings or less, but lest not forget he’s supposed to be in St. Paul right now. Instead, he’s pitching in Minneapolis and generated 16 whiffs today, which is elite when he only threw 75 pitches. Moreover, he’s quietly putting together one of the better rookie campaigns that people outside of Twins Territory have never heard of.

    Offense Can't Survive on Buxton's Multi-Hit Day
    Despite being a rookie, this was already Kris Bubic’s fifth appearance (fourth start) against the Minnesota Twins, who he has a 4.76 ERA against, but today would be different. After giving up a lead off double to Byron Buxton and a sacrifice fly to Luis Arraez two batters later, he would shut down the Twins giving up just two additional hits (Buxton again, then Simmons) over the next five innings. The Twins would chase him out in the sixth with a Buxton leadoff single, followed by a Rob Refsnyder single, Luis Arraez lineout, and Josh Donaldson walk to load the bases. Righty reliever Domingo Tapia would come on to strikeout Miguel Sano on just three pitches but wouldn’t come away unscathed after a clutch two-out double from Brent Rooker to knot the game at three runs apiece.

    Aside from Luis Arraez reaching on a Mondesi error in the eighth and a Kepler single in the ninth, the Twins offense went down quietly in the final three innings of the game.

    Bullpen Usage Chart
    Moran came on and immediately christened himself as a Twins reliever by allowing an inherited run to score off of a Whit Merrifield double. He settled in to finish the 5th but couldn’t finish the sixth after loading the bases with a lead off single and back-to-back walks with two outs. Ralph Garza Jr., who’s another rookie putting together a solid season, would need just one pitch to get out of the jam and pitched a clean seventh inning. Jorge Alcala pitched the eighth allowing the first two hitters to reach base and ended up allowing one of those runners to score on a Kyle Isbel single. Juan Minaya did more of the same in the ninth which resulted in the Twins chasing two runs entering the last half inning of the game. Despite the rough finish, it was a decent day overall for the bullpen who pitched 4 2/3 innings giving up just two earned runs.

      WED THU FRI SAT SUN TOT
    Minaya 0 0 40 0 17 57
    Thielbar 8 0 0 26 0 34
    Farrell 0 32 0 12 0 44
    Colomé 0 0 12 0 0 12
    Coulombe 0 15 0 23 0 38
    Duffey 17 0 11 0 0 28
    Alcalá 0 0 9 0 18 27
    Garza Jr. 0 19 0 0 11 30
    Moran 0 0 0 0 37 37
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    20 minutes ago, mikelink45 said:

    Our standards have really slipped.  We celebrate giving up only 3 runs no matter how many innings pitched.  Our  batters continue to miss in big opportunities - come on Sano - a K on 3 pitches!  

     

    I’d say acknowledging more than celebrating. The whiffs he’s generated in such few innings and his K/BB ratio have been very good this year. His ERA right now is better than Berríos career ERA entering 2020 and is better than Berríos ERA was at the same point in their careers.

    I’m not saying he is or will be better than Berríos, but in a crappy year I think we can acknowledge Ober has been a pleasant surprise for a guy who nobody would have expected to pitch for the Twins this season.

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    5 hours ago, Matthew Lenz said:

    I’d say acknowledging more than celebrating. The whiffs he’s generated in such few innings and his K/BB ratio have been very good this year. His ERA right now is better than Berríos career ERA entering 2020 and is better than Berríos ERA was at the same point in their careers.

    I’m not saying he is or will be better than Berríos, but in a crappy year I think we can acknowledge Ober has been a pleasant surprise for a guy who nobody would have expected to pitch for the Twins this season.

    I agree with you, but in reality we have had to lower the bar - things that would have not merited comment in the last two years become significant now.  I am really pleased with Ober and see him with a fine future as a #4, just as Gant looks to be a #4, and Jax a #6, and Barnes a #8,  Pineda is a #3 and will probably resign,  But that leaves a lot of rotational concern going forward.  I do hope Balazovic or Winder can step in,  But without AAA this year what is their chance?

    Berrios is 11 - 7 with a 3.52 era and 2.4 WAR so I cannot compare any of the current Twins with him and wonder how we will afford a pitcher as good as him in FA.  

    Polanco has been a great batter and would rank high no matter what year,  But we are playing Refsnyder and Cave and they are not the future - I know Larnach flamed out and I hope he comes back, Celestino needed AAA and has done well there and Kiriloff seems like another injury plagued star.  But our current nine have batting averages of 195 280 214 225 249 279 210 203 292.  We used to talk about the Mendoza line - I guess it is now the Sano line.  

    We rank 9 in BA out of 15 teams, 8 in OBP, and 4 in SLG.    We are 9th in hits - HR or nothing.  

    It is not a critique of a really good summary that you wrote, but rather an overall disappointment and desire to try to see the reality in our situation. 

    Thanks for the response. 

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    A 90-loss season and a dead last place finish in the AL Central is all but secured.

    Agree with @mikelink45 in that I don't feel too much like celebrating performances like Ober's last night. He's been a bright spot to be sure, but last night he got knocked around a bit by KC and couldn't finish the 5th inning. Outings of 4.2 innings and giving up 5 hits and 3 ER aren't good enough to win most days. The six strikeouts were nice but that's really just a silver lining to what was simply a below-average performance by Ober. That's what it was, and it's OK to call it that.

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    3 hours ago, Matthew Lenz said:

    I’d say acknowledging more than celebrating. The whiffs he’s generated in such few innings and his K/BB ratio have been very good this year. His ERA right now is better than Berríos career ERA entering 2020 and is better than Berríos ERA was at the same point in their careers.

    I’m not saying he is or will be better than Berríos, but in a crappy year I think we can acknowledge Ober has been a pleasant surprise for a guy who nobody would have expected to pitch for the Twins this season.

    What I dont understand is why is Berrios our bar to set? He was never "Amazing" at his best he was good, not great. He was never an Ace, and he never will be on a winning team. We need to set our sights higher when it comes to Aces and great pitching. 

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    3 hours ago, bighat said:

    A 90-loss season and a dead last place finish in the AL Central is all but secured.

    Agree with @mikelink45 in that I don't feel too much like celebrating performances like Ober's last night. He's been a bright spot to be sure, but last night he got knocked around a bit by KC and couldn't finish the 5th inning. Outings of 4.2 innings and giving up 5 hits and 3 ER aren't good enough to win most days. The six strikeouts were nice but that's really just a silver lining to what was simply a below-average performance by Ober. That's what it was, and it's OK to call it that.

    He is a rookie, wait till next year; it could have been much, much worse.

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    I was surprised to see that Do-Hyoung Park didn't tweet out that Ober extended his less than 3 earned runs to 10 games. But the writer of the article did and he actually got the number wrong.

    I will say this again, I like Ober and think he has a real chance to be a major league starter but saying he had a strong performance is ridiculous, his ERA for this game was 6.24 and you don't get to take out the first six batters

    There were definitely things to like in his last two starts, 0 walks, 10 K's in 8 innings, and 11 hits in those innings are good as well.

    Hopefully next year he can deeper into games and these results translate in another inning or three.

    IMO any starting pitcher that pitches 5 or less innings and gives up more than 2 earned runs  should not be considered a good start.

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