Starting Pitcher: Happ 3.0 IP, 10 H, 9 R, 9 ER, 4 BB, 2 K
Homeruns: Sano 2 (17), Jeffers 2 (8), Kepler (14), Rooker (4), Polanco (15)
Bottom 3 WPA: Happ -0.321, Minaya -0.158, Kepler -0.154
Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs)
J.A. Happ’s Horrendous Start
It has been far from a good season for offseason signing J.A. Happ, who put together arguably his worst outing of the season, yes even as bad as his start against the White Sox back in May. By the time the plug was finally pulled on Happ, the game was seemingly well out of reach. After giving up a couple of baserunners, but no runs in the first, Happ surrendered four singles and a walk in the second that gave the Tigers the early two run lead.
Happ then had a strong three-up-three-down third and appeared to get his start back on the right track. That was before all hell broke loose in the fourth. To start the top of the fourth, the Tigers offense started the inning by going single, walk, double, single, single, walk, double before Rocco Baldelli finally came out and ended J.A. Happ’s outing.
Former Tigers first round pick Beau Burrows came in to relieve Happ, and got out of the inning, but not before allowing two sac-flies and an RBI triple, giving the Tigers an early 10-0 lead. Burrows would stay in the game and pitch a scoreless fifth, after the Twins bats somehow got them back in the game, but then let the Tigers build on their lead again in the sixth. He gave up two walks to begin the inning, before Zack Short hit an RBI double. Burrows then got the next two guys on flyouts, the former being a sac-fly, before Grayson Greiner ripped another double off Burrows giving the Tigers what was at the time a 13-6 lead.
Twins Monster 4th Inning
After the Tigers appeared the bust the game completely wide open in the top of the fourth, the Twins bats made the game interesting after a big inning of their own. Miguel Sano got the scoring started with a leadoff solo home run to center field.
After the Sano home run, which was nice to see, the game still felt very much not in the balance. That, however, would all change just four batters later. After the Sano home run, Trevor Larnach, Willians Astudillo and Nick Gordon all hit singles to set the table for this Ryan Jeffers grand slam!
The Twins bats were not done after that, as they continued to pile on the hits. After Andrelton Simmons lined out to right, Max Kepler was hit by a pitch and that was the end of the road for Tigers pitcher Wily Peralta, who was replaced by Kyle Funkhouser (great name). Funkhouser did not find any more success, as Rooker, Polano and Sano all proceeded to get singles off of him to begin his outing, cutting the Tigers lead to four and giving the Twins bases loaded and just one out. They failed to capitalize on this, however, as Trevor Larnach struck out and Willians Astudillo grounded out to end the inning.
Twins Coming Roaring Back in the 8th
Yes, I know that was a bad Tigers pun, but it was a long game. With the Twins still down 13-6 entering the bottom of the eighth, the Twins bats exploded for a second time in today’s ballgame. Max Kepler, who has been swinging the bat a lot better in July, got the inning started with his fourteenth home run of the season, and that would not be even close to the last home run the Twins would hit this inning.
Then it was Brent Rooker’s turn to stay hot, after he’s been tearing it up in St. Paul this year to the tune of 19 home runs and an OPS of .908 in 61 ball games for the Saints. In total, Rooker has hit 23 home runs in just 75 games played between the Saints and the Twins this season.
Now down 13-8, it felt like the Twins were still in the ball game, and that feeling became even stronger once Jorge Polanco drew a walk to get on base for what was the most no-boudt of all no-doubters that has ever come off the bat of Miguel Sano, and that is saying something.
According to Statcast, that home run left Miguel Sano’s bat with an exit velocity of 114.8 MPH and a launch angle of 30 degrees, traveling an estimated 473 feet into the third deck in left-center. Truly a mammoth home run, even by his standards.
The Twins bats did not slow down after that, as they continued to use the long ball to get back into this ballgame. After a Willians Astudillo double, sandwiched between a Tevor Larnach fly out and a Nick Gordon strike out, Ryan Jeffers blasted his second home run of the game, bringing the Twins back within one.
Juan Minaya Shines Until Things Fall Apart in the Ninth
After the struggles of J.A. Happ and Beau Burrows, Juan Minaya was a refreshing change of pace for the Twins on the mound, when he entered the game to start the seventh. He began his outing by retiring all six batters that he faced in the seventh and eighth innings, and came back out to pitch the ninth, after the Twins had just made it a one-run ball game. He got the inning started off strong by striking out Harold Castro, before walking Grayson Greiner. After a quick mound visit, Minaya seemed to get back on track as he struck out Akil Baddoo for the second out of the inning.
That is when things fell apart on Minaya, who was arguably left in the game a bit too long, especially with the Twins back in it. With two outs, the Tigers proceeded to get a single and a walk to load the bases for Eric Haase, who promptly delivered with a bases clearing double to bust the game back open for the Tigers. He would then come around to score on the next batter, when Jeimer Candelario hit a double of his own, giving the Tigers a 17-12 lead.
It is worth noting that none of the Tigers 17 runs in today’s ballgame were scored on a home run.
Jorge Polanco Gives Twins a Glimmer of Hope in the Ninth
Given all that had happened today, a five run lead in the ninth did not seem insurmountable for the Twins. After all, they already had two six run innings, so why not a third and the way the inning started it appeared as though that was possible. Brent Rooker leadoff the inning with a hard fought walk and was immediately followed by a home run off the bat of Jorge Polanco, the Twins seventh of the ballgame.
That comeback effort would not come to fruition, as Miguel Sano and Trevor Larnach would both strike out and Willians Astudillo would ground out to end what was not only an incredible game, but an incredible series.
Bullpen Usage Chart
The Twins are off on Thursday before traveling to St. Louis to begin a three-game series with the Cardinals. Jose Berrios is scheduled to be on the mound for the Twins, though that is still very much up in the air depending on what happens with the trade deadline fast approaching.