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  • Game Score: Twins 3, White Sox 2


    Matthew Lenz

    It took “extras” but the Twins were able to open the four-game series against the White Sox with a 3-2 win. They improved to 40-53 on the season and 6-9 in “extra innings” all thanks to a rookie and a seasoned vet. That and more in today’s first recap!

    Image courtesy of © Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

    Box Score

    Griffin Jax: 4.0 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K (63.2% strikes)

    Homeruns: Cruz (19)

    Top 3 WPA: Cruz (.310), Duffey (.310), Robles (.201)

    Win Probability Chart (via Fangraphs)

    1678003365_chart(1).png.02b9aaedbc46add705fad3683eb10d1b.png

    Griffin Jax Lights Out

    If things had gone as planned in 2021, Jax would likely be enjoying an off day in St. Paul recovering after celebrating a walk off victory against the Columbus Clippers on Sunday night. Instead, the Twins plans were more-or-less thwarted by mid-April and Jax has been thrusted into a semi-regular role as a spot starter for the Big League Club. All things considered, he’s fared well in most of his starts and had a banner day in game one against the White Sox. Albeit a short career to this point, he set a career high striking out six batters over four frames with the lone hit and earned run coming on a pitch that you can barely call a mistake.

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    If we really want to nitpick you could say he left the ball up just a bit too much, especially considering Tim Anderson has a career .490 slugging on low and away fastballs in his career. That said, I think I’ll give the rookie a break here considering the day he had. 

    So was today just a guy having a day or is there more to it? I’ll let Jeremy Maschino of State Street Podcast and our own Parker Hageman answer that.

    Thanks to the increased movement, Jax was able to generate 16 whiffs on just 68 pitches which equates to an ungodly rate of 23.5-percent. It’s hard to know what the near future plans are for Jax, but undoubtedly we will be seeing more of him this season and he’s set a new standard of what to watch for. It’ll be little tidbits like that that should keep you watching the Twins in a lost season.

    Offense 2nd Half Struggles Continue

    To be fair, Lance Lynn has been really good this year for the White Sox...like sub-2.00 ERA good. Had he not given up a 375 foot bomb to Nelson Cruz in the top of the sixth, he would have been credited with his second complete game shutout of the season.

    It was Cruz’s 436th career home run, the 46th most all-time, and his 76th homerun as a member of the Minnesota Twins. The only guy to defeat “father time”, at least for now, wasn’t done as he gave the Twins the lead in the top of the eighth with a broken bat sacrifice fly that scored pinch-runner Gilbert Celestino. Jorge Polanco added his second hit and first RBI on the day in the very next at-bat with a single to right that scored Luis Arraez, who just snuck in thanks to a crafty slide at the plate.

    Also of note was Arraez adding two more hits and surpassing the .300 plateau on the season and Ryan Jeffers notching two hits of his own. Speaking of Arraez, he is very close to having enough at-bats to qualify for 11th in all of baseball and one spot ahead of Cruz. Again, little tidbits to keep an eye that will make the Twins a little more enjoyable.

    Bullpen Usage

    Jorge Alcala and Taylor Rogers came on in the fifth and sixth, respectively, combining for two hits and three strikeouts. Things got verrrrrry interesting in the bottom of the 7th when Tyler Duffey was one pitch away from walking the bases loaded with two outs, but was bailed out by an Anderson pop up on a 3-0 count that would have been ball four. Aside from giving up a ground rule double to Jose Abreu, Hansel Robles earned the save striking out two batters in the bottom of the eighth.

      THU FRI SAT SUN MON TOT
    Burrows 0 0 32 0 0 32
    Rogers 0 0 21 0 19 40
    Robles 0 0 18 0 19 37
    Minaya 0 0 0 13 0 13
    Thielbar 0 0 0 0 0 0
    Duffey 0 0 0 0 16 16
    Colomé 0 0 0 0 0 0
    Alcala 0 0 0 0 23 23
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    I don't know what this team is going to do once Nelson Cruz is gone.  He had the big HR and a productive sac fly for two of the three RBI's.

    I have had my doubts about Jax but the way he pitched today gives me hope.  Three K's to start the game against a very good lineup he looked great out there.  To bad about the blister as they generally take at least a couple of weeks to heal up but he gave them enough to get the win.  I hope he can prove to be a part of the future we need all the pitching we can get.

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    45 minutes ago, Dman said:

    I don't know what this team is going to do once Nelson Cruz is gone.  He had the big HR and a productive sac fly for two of the three RBI's.

    I have had my doubts about Jax but the way he pitched today gives me hope.  Three K's to start the game against a very good lineup he looked great out there.  To bad about the blister as they generally take at least a couple of weeks to heal up but he gave them enough to get the win.  I hope he can prove to be a part of the future we need all the pitching we can get.

    I hope you comeback and read the recap now that I have it done. I give you some tidbits to watch for moving forward and address why you should have hope for Jax!

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    On 7/19/2021 at 7:43 PM, Dman said:

    I don't know what this team is going to do once Nelson Cruz is gone...

    Probably depends on how much the Twins think of Miguel Sano and Brent Rooker. I'd expect the Twins to move Sano to DH and Kiriloff to 1B. Rooker will probably get a long look at DH and Sano will be used as PH/DH for the rest of the season.

    The Twins' offense is definitely going to be a lot less potent without Cruz, unfortunately.

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