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  • Game Score: Twins 1, White Sox 0


    Andrew Thares

    Jorge Polanco and the Minnesota Twins pitchers put on a show today, as the Twins earned a hard fought 1-0 victory over the Chicago White Sox, and claimed the series victory in the process. 

    Image courtesy of Image courtesy of © Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

    Box Score

    Starting Pitcher: Ober 5.1 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 6 K

    Homeruns: Polanco (21)

    Top 3 WPA: Ober (0.284), Minaya (0.188), Polanco (0.154)

    Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs)

    667499566_ScreenShot2021-08-11at3_13_47PM.png.22cc720a9d46b2a4f4b3286a612352f9.png

    Bailey Ober’s Excellent Start

    After a shaky first month or so of his MLB career, Bailey Ober has settled in nicely since the start of July, as he has posted a respectable 4.23 ERA with solid strikeout and walk numbers in his last six starts coming into today. Those number’s got even better after Ober put up what may have been his best start of the season.

    Ober had a strong first inning, as he got Cesar Hernandez to strikeout to leadoff the ball game. Then, after an Andrew Vaughn strikeout, he struck out Jose Abreu to end the first. In the second, Eloy Jimenez got a leadoff single to begin the inning, before Brian Goodwin flew out to center field for the first out of the inning. Ober then made a great play on a weak comebacker off the bat of Adam Engel that set up the 1-4-3 double play to end the inning.

    After two smooth innings to start the game, Bailey Ober found himself in a big spot facing Andrew Vaughn with runners on the corners and two outs. Ober was up for the challenge, however, and got Vaughn to swing and miss on three straight 94 MPH fastballs to get out of the jam.

    After another strong inning in the fourth, where he gave up just a lone single, Ober found himself in another dicey spot in the fifth. After a leadoff single, followed by one out walk, the White Sox were threatening with the top of their order due up. Pitching coach Wes Johnson came out to settle down his young right-hander. Like many times before it, whatever Johnson said must have worked, as Ober came back with two more strikeouts to get out of the jam once again.

    Jorge Polanco Goes Deep Again

    One of the few bright spots for Twins fans this season has been the play of Jorge Polanco, who has returned to his early 2019 form over the past three plus months of this season. Entering play today, Polanco had an OPS of .885 since the start of May. 

    Polanco has taken that to a whole new level so far in August, as he already had five home runs in just nine games entering play today. That hot streak continued again today, as Polanco went deep to the opposite field in the bottom of the sixth to give the Twins the 1-0 lead.

     

    He almost followed that up with another home run in the bottom of the eighth, that would have given the Twins a potentially huge insurance run. However, the ball hit right off of the top of the wall in right, and Polanco had to settle for a two out triple. Luis Arraez made a strong bid to drive him in, but his line drive held up just enough to be caught by White Sox center fielder Adam Engel.

    Twins Bats Were Cold

    Outside of the Jorge Polanco home run and triple, it was a rough day for Twins hitters at the plate. The other eight hitters in the Twins lineup went just 2-for-23 with 12 strikeouts and four walks. 

    Luis Arraez got one of those two hits, drilled a leadoff double to the left-center field gap to leadoff the second. However, the Twins failed to cash in on the early opportunity. 

    The other hit came from Trevor Larnach who got a two-out threat started with a single in the fifth. Andrelton Simmons followed that with a walk, before a wild pickoff attempt from White Sox pitcher Garrett Crochet allowed both Larnach and Simmons to advance. Unfortunately, that opportunity would not be taken advantage of as Max Kepler struck out to end the inning.

    The Bullpen Shuts the Door

    After Bailey Ober’s strong start, it was the bullpen’s job to seal the deal for the Twins win and that is exactly what they did today. Caleb Thielbar, Juan Minaya and Alex Colome all deserve some credit, as they each pitched exceptionally well. Collectively, they combined to go 3 and ⅔ innings, allowing zero runs on zero hits while striking out four and walking two.

    Bullpen Usage Chart

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    What's Next?

    After back-to-back series wins against American League division leaders, the Twins will have an off day on Thursday before welcoming another American League division leader in the Tampa Bay Rays to town on Friday. Michael Pineda is scheduled to get the start for the Twins, while the Rays starter is still TBD.

     

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    Help me guys. I had knee replacement surgery and they gave me opioids for the pain so I may be seeing things that aren't really there. I think the Twins just won 2 straight low scoring games against a 100 win team starting ... Griffin Jax and Bailey Ober? Really? Both saved by Alex Colome? With 6.2 scoreless relief innings from 5 or 6 different guys? Wow, either things have changed or these are really good drugs...

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    7 minutes ago, LA VIkes Fan said:

    Help me guys. I had knee replacement surgery and they gave me opioids for the pain so I may be seeing things that aren't really there. I think the Twins just won 2 straight low scoring games against a 100 win team starting ... Griffin Jax and Bailey Ober? Really? Both saved by Alex Colome? With 6.2 scoreless relief innings from 5 or 6 different guys? Wow, either things have changed or these are really good drugs...

    Enjoy your drugs

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    8 minutes ago, mikelink45 said:

    This is old time baseball except Over would have pitched nine.  Why are we throwing away the first two spots in the lineup?  Kepler and Rooker do not belong there.  Of course Polanco and Arraez are the only two who do. How many Twins are batting more than 250? 

    If I had to guess, they are trying to get those two as many ABs as possible to see what they have in Rooker, and to get Max out of his funk (hopefully). Much more important than Ws. Also, batting order doesn't matter much....some, not much.

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    Nice win. It has become far too rare these days to see the Twins win a pitchers' duel like this. And I am really starting to become a big fan of Bailey Ober, if I wasn't already. Let's hope he can keep it up.

    6 minutes ago, mikelink45 said:

    Why are we throwing away the first two spots in the lineup?  Kepler and Rooker do not belong there.

    I have been wondering about that, too. Putting Arraez in the leadoff spot was easily one of Rocco's best decisions this year, in my opinion. Why is he suddenly reverting back to Kepler there?

    Now, I like Max Kepler. As a German baseball fan, he was pretty much the reason why I chose the Twins as my favorite team. But what part of his recent play has convinced Rocco that he is the right option for the leadoff spot? Putting him there was somewhat defensible in 2019 when he was actually hitting well. (As long as you want a pull-heavy power-over-hit guy there, which I disagree with.) But now? His OBP is .289! I don't get it.

    Of course it doesn't really matter who is batting leadoff for the rest of this lost season. It's just one of those decisions that really confuse me...

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    I think they moved Arraez out of the leadoff spot because they want him to be in a spot where he can drive in runs. We're pretty weak in the middle of the order with Donaldson always day to day, Sano streaky or awful, and Garver not playing every day. We should probably remember that the 2-6 middle of lineup this year was intended to be Buxton, Polanco. Cruz, Kirilloff and Donaldson. Only one of those guys now actually is on the team and plays every day.  Arraez is the only other player who hits well enough to stay in the middle of the order. 

    Having said that, leading off Kepler makes no sense to me either except that I don't really see anyone else out there other than Arraez and Polanco and they need to hit 3 and 4 or 5. Refsynder could lead off against LH pitching, but Sano, Cave Larnach and Simmons aren't really good enough to lead off vs, RH pitching.  I'm not really sure who you put there unless you call up Miranda from AAA or Martin from AA. Hmmm, there's an idea.....

    As for Rooker, I'm pretty much done. He can't hit well enough yet to be on the MLB roster. Time to recognize that and give someone else the opportunity. Or maybe he gets a few more days of 4-5 ABs and then gets optioned when Buxton is ready. Hmmm, another interesting idea... 

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    🙃What a surprise to logon and see Twins not only played a game this afternoon....who knew?....but won a 1-0 pitching duel. Didnt even dream of 1-0 and Twins being in the same sentence. 

    Good for Ober and the BP. Great to see them have success against quality competition. 

    Sadly, Yankees won. KC is oficially looking over their collective shoulders as Twins close in on 4th place.

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    1 hour ago, LA VIkes Fan said:

    Help me guys. I had knee replacement surgery and they gave me opioids for the pain so I may be seeing things that aren't really there. I think the Twins just won 2 straight low scoring games against a 100 win team starting ... Griffin Jax and Bailey Ober? Really? Both saved by Alex Colome? With 6.2 scoreless relief innings from 5 or 6 different guys? Wow, either things have changed or these are really good drugs...

    myPNvxTmLmKx.jpg

    "Um, I'll have what he's having!"

     

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    2 hours ago, Mike Sixel said:

    If I had to guess, they are trying to get those two as many ABs as possible to see what they have in Rooker, and to get Max out of his funk (hopefully). Much more important than Ws. Also, batting order doesn't matter much....some, not much.

    Max has had one season and a lot of hope.  Rooker has the same success in MLB as in MiLB - I am not hopeful. 

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    1 hour ago, mikelink45 said:

    Max has had one season and a lot of hope.  Rooker has the same success in MLB as in MiLB - I am not hopeful. 

    I think Kepler can be good enough or better. I don't have a lot of belief Rooker. But that's why they are playing them, to get more data. That's what this season is for now. 

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    4 hours ago, gunnarthor said:

    3 out of 4 from Houston, 2 out of 3 from Chicago? Are we good somehow?

    Uh...I'd have to say "no" to your question, but a nice string of pitching and some timely hitting has resulted in some solid wins.  I will to quote from that baseball savant, Nuke LaLoosh-------"Man, I love winning!  Its like better than losing."

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    Just a couple quick comments: 

    1] I am a believer in Ober and his potential. The league will make adjustments. He will have to make adjustments as well. But his rookie numbers are better than any rookie I can think of in recent memory.

    2] With due respect to all of us wanting changes in the pen, and super disappointed with how the pen turned out this year, there is a reason the FO grabs guys to audition. We all know the volatility of RP. And they NEED to bring in a couple good arms for 2022. But isn't it crazy that the quality veteran Colome who we all wanted gone a month ago is suddenly looking like the guy we THOUGHT we were signing? So maybe he suddenly finds himself,  too little too late, but has an option year. Is it a mistake to see if maybe the initial signing wasn't so bad after all?

    And there are a couple others like Farrell, if and when he gets healthy. I don't expect a lot of these guys to be protected as there will be a 40 man crunch and need for 2022. But when you see Minya suddenly look like the decent arm he was a couple years ago, and see Colome suddenly look like the guy we THOUGHT we signed, you understand why the FO makes some of the moves and auditions they do. 

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    Kepler had one dominant MiLb season. It was good.  His other stats suggested he would be an on base machine.  He has not been that, at all.  Even at the discounted rate over term, he's been a disappointment.  

    Rooker and his 4 Ks is what everyone has always said he was.  Dave Kingman comp, except not that good.  Keep playing him, we have to this year, but not good.

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