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  • Game Score: Twins 7, White Sox 2


    Andrew Thares

    After dropping games two and three of the series, the Twins bounced back tonight to force a series split against the Chicago White Sox as they won by a score of 7-2.

    Image courtesy of © Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

    Box Score

    Starting Pitcher: Pineda 5 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 SO

    Homeruns: Kepler (12), Polanco (14)

    Top 3 WPA: Polanco (0.195), Pineda (0.163), Kepler (0.144)

    Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs)

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    Pineda Impresses Right Before Trade Deadline

    With the Twins well out of contention, it is not secret that they will be sellers at the trade deadline, and one of the names that could be on the block is starting pitcher Michael Pineda, who will be a free agent at season’s end. While Pineda is not one of the biggest names on the block, he certainly had value for a contending team looking to add depth to their rotation, and starts like tonight will only help that trade value go up.

    In tonight’s start, Michael Pineda allowed just one run on four hits, across five innings of work against one of the best offenses in baseball. This was a great sign, as Pineda got hit around pretty hard in his only other start since returning from the Injured List, which also came against the White Sox back on July 7th.

    Pineda did run into a little struggle in the bottom of the third inning. After getting Zack Collins to fly out to left to leadoff the inning, Billy Hamilton laced a ground ball double to left field. Hamilton would then steal third in the next plate appearance, which would result in a walk to Tim Anderson. After Anderson stole second, the White Sox had a serious threat going with second and third and only one out. 

    Adam Engle then hit a hard ground ball between third and short that just deflected off the glove of a diving Josh Donaldson. Andrelton Simmons was able to field the ball, but he didn’t have a play and everyone was safe, with Billy Hamilton scoring the game tying run. After a mound visit, Pineda was then able to get Jose Abreu to ground into a 6-4-3 double play to get out of the jam with the game still tied at one a piece.

    Max Kepler Hits Another Home Run in Chicago

    Much like Nelson Cruz, Max Kepler has grown accustomed to hitting home runs in Chicago, as he went deep again there tonight. This home run got the scoring started in the top of the third off a 1-1 breaking ball from Dylan Cease. When Kepler first hit the ball, it was clear that the ball had enough juice to get out, the question was would it stay fair. This time that answer was yes, as the ball struck the foul pole in right about 10 feet above the wall.

     

    The Twins String Together a Two Out Rally to Take the Lead in the Fifth

    With the score tied at one all in the top of the fifth, it appeared that Dylan Cease would give the White Sox lineup a chance to take the lead in the bottom of the inning with two quick outs versus Andrelton Simmions and Max Kepler. However, the heart of the Twins order was not about to let that happen. 

    Jorge Polanco got the rally going when he laced a single into right. Nelson Cruz then followed that up with a ground-rule double over Adam Engel’s head in right. The White Sox appeared to catch a break, as had that ball stayed in play, Polanco would have likely scored from first. That was a moot point, however, as both Polanco and Cruz came around to score on a ground ball single up the middle off the bat of Josh Donaldson, giving the Twins a 3-1 lead. Trevor Larnach kept the two out rally going with a single of his own, but Miguel Sano swung and missed at three straight pitches, putting an end to the rally. 

    Jorge Polanco Adds to the Twins Lead in the Sixth

    After starting the two out rally the inning prior, Jorge Polanco came up with another big two out hit in the sixth, this time it was a three-run blast to bust the game open for the Twins. The sixth inning got started much the same way as the fifth, with two quick outs. However, after an Andrelton Simmons single, followed by his first stolen base of the season, and a Max Kepler walk, the table was set for Jorge Polanco to deliver, and he did just that as he sent a 3-1 fastball into the Twins bullpen in right-centerfield, extending the Twins lead to five.

     

    Jorge Polanco’s night would not end there, as he would help add another insurance run in the top of the ninth. With one out in the inning, Polanco lined a double to left field. He then attempted to steal third and was initially ruled out, but after a successful Twins challenge he was ruled safe. He then came into score the Twins seventh run of the game (his third) on a Nelson Cruz sac-fly, giving the Twins the 7-2 lead.

    The Twins Bullpen has Strong Showing

    After a good start from Michael Pineda, it was the bullpen's job to protect the Twins lead and they did just that tonight, giving up just one run over four collective innings of work. Tyler Duffey was the first out of the pen to start the sixth, and though he gave up four hits, he did not surrender a run across 1 and 2/3 innings of work. Alex Colome came in an finished things off in the seventh, before giving up a run on a pair of doubles in the eighth. Caleb Thielbar then came in to close things out in the ninth. He gave up a leadoff walk to start the inning, but then got Billy Hamilton to strikeout before inducing a 6-4-3 double-play off the batt of Tim Anderson to seal the Twins victory.

    Bullpen Usage Chart

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    What is Next?

    The Twins will return home on Thursday to being a four-game series against the Los Angeles Angels. Game one of the series will begin Thursday at 7:10 p.m. CDT with Kenta Maeda on the mound against Angels starter Andrew Heaney.

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    In this lost season its always good to get a "W" over the W-Sox.  A few observations/questions?

    1.  Did Pineda do enough tonight (impress another GM) to pitch his last game in a Twins uniform? If so, I'd like to thank Big Mike for 2+ seasons of quality work in our rotation.  When he was healthy, you could make the argument Pineda was our most consistent SP.

    2.  When will FO/mgmt realize their doing nothing but hurting (my opinion) Celestino by keeping him on the active roster?  Since his promotion to Twins on June 2nd, Celestino has played in only 19 games with only 51 ABs and has done zip at the plate (.137 avg/.185 OBP).  I do understand why he was promoted (injuries to Buxton and Cave and reluctance to play Kepler regularly in CF), but, I may be on an island here----this kid needs REGULAR ABs!!  Yes, the experience has helped him, but he was very average during his early season time with Wichita.  Is his demotion back to Wichita only a matter of time until mgmt decides to bring Cave (ugh) back from Saint Paul?

    3.  Is there any hope that some (desperate) team would be willing to deal for Colome?  Before allowing 1 ER tonight, Colome had put together a string (6 games) of allowing allowing only 1 ER in 6.1 IP.  I know, I'm reaching.

    4.  Nice to see the continued production from Polanco.  I wish my confidence level was higher as everytime he has a productive night I leave him on my bench on my fantasy team.

    5.  Is the promotion of Brent Rooker a foregone conclusion when Cruz is traded?  I'd like to believe what he's done at Saint Paul has earned him that opportunity....but his low avg and propensity to whiff and lack of defense has me thinking mgmt might be looking at Refsnyder or Garlick.  Others thoughts?

    and finally

    Who wants to make an argument---please provide facts----for Happ to continue getting regular starts the remainder of the season?  Count me in the camp that is strongly in favor of seeing some combination of Jax, Winder and Barnes fill 2 rotation slots throughout August until the FO deems Balazovic is ready for a call to 'the show'  Don't see FO eating the remainder of Happ's contract so he can provide mop up duty the rest of the season.  He has NO ROLE in 2022------no reason to give him any more starts.

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    Lots of positive stuff last night. Polanco has put his early season struggles way back in the rear view mirror. Way back when Donaldson signed, many of us couldn't even figure out where Polanco would hit. 8th? 9th? But the guy has played himself right back into the heart of the order where he should be. About the most consistent bat the Twins have, aside from Cruz. No long slumps, no 4 strikeout games, he puts the ball in play which this team needs. Good to see Max go deep also.

    Nice effort Big Mike, good luck wherever you may land.

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    7 hours ago, darwin22 said:

     

    3.  Is there any hope that some (desperate) team would be willing to deal for Colome?  Before allowing 1 ER tonight, Colome had put together a string (6 games) of allowing allowing only 1 ER in 6.1 IP.  I know, I'm reaching.

     

    Great questions you asked, I don't know the answers to all but I share your feelings!

    As for the question about Colome, it's possible but unlikely. Maybe we'll get some cash considerations or something. But honestly, what contender out there wants to bring Alex Colome into their bullpen? The guy has been awful in tight games, starting from Day 1. His recent "success" if we can call it that seems to mostly come when pitching in low leverage situations. I just don't see anyone in a pennant race taking the gamble.

    With the Twins luck he'll catch fire after the deadline and be lights out in August & Sept.

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    Here's what I would suggest as next season's opening day lineup:

    Catcher  Mitch G;  1st  Alex K;  2nd  Luis A;  SS  Jorge P;  3rd  Josh D;  Buxton and Kepler in the outfield, and Berrios and Maeda and Ober as starters. DH -- Cruz, fer sure.

    Go find a left fielder and an ace, Twins. Find another bullpen pitcher or two or three. 

    Delete Sano, Simmons, Happ,  Pay more. Pay smarter.  This team needs, and has for years, a skid stopper, a bulldog pitcher. 

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