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)
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
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.