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)
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.
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.
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.