Starter: Bailey Ober 4.0 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 4 K
Home Runs: Jorge Polanco (27), Byron Buxton (11)
Top 3 WPA: Polanco (.240), Pineda (.192), Buxton (.096)
Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs)
At this point in the season, it feels like a Bailey Ober start is appointment viewing to get a further glimpse at what the Twins may have in him for next season. Pineda almost stole the headlines as he was activated from the IL to piggy-back Ober. Still, it was truly Polanco who once again stole all the attention away from anyone else on the field Monday night in Cleveland.
The Twins got their scoring going early. Buxton was able to get an infield single to lead off the game. Polanco lined his 30th double of the season to advance Buxton to 3rd base. Then one of the more unusual 3-hole hitters for the Twins, Rob Refsnyder, drove both Twins base runners home with an opposite-field single to put the Twins up 2-0 over Cleveland.
As the 3rd inning came around, so did Polanco’s spot in the lineup again. In his second at-bat as a righty against the left-handed Logan Allen, Polanco hit his 27th home run of the season. Polanco wasn’t finished for the night either. He would end the night going 4-for-5 with three doubles and a home run.
Buxton is Back
Buxton has looked good and healthy since returning from the injured list from the running and fielding standpoint. His bat has been quiet. Yesterday it began to awaken, and tonight that awakening continued. In addition to his 1st inning single, Buxton also hit his 11th home run of the season which gave the Twins a 4-2 lead in the 5th inning.
Ober Continues His Growth
One of the few storylines many fans are watching as the season winds down continues to be an impressive one. Ober continued his excellent stretch of pitching on a night he knew he would be limited and piggy-backed by Michael Pineda. Ober made a mistake with Franmil Reyes' at-bat, and he blasted a hanging slider for a 2-run home run. Besides that run-scoring opportunity, Ober continued to look strong as he challenged Cleveland batters inside, struck out four and walked none.
Pineda Returns to the Mound
With plenty of questions surrounding where Pineda will be for the 2022 season, Pineda made his return starting the 5th inning after Ober was finished for the evening. Big Mike put together a respectable line of 3.0 IP, 2 H, 3 Ks, and 1 BB. The results were there, but questions still remain around the stuff and/or command being fully back. That is a question that will need to be answered as the Twins consider whether or not they will make Pineda a contract offer for 2022.
It was a fun night in Cleveland for the Twins. They will go back at it tomorrow as John Gant takes the mound against Aaron Civale.
Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet