Michael Pineda: 5 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 3 K
Home Runs: Byron Buxton (13), Jorge Polanco 2 (29), Nick Gordon (2), Max Kepler (17)
Top 3 WPA: Michael Pineda .169, Jorge Polanco .167, Byron Buxton .095
Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs)
Byron Buxton and Jorge Polanco announced their presence in the bottom of the first inning with back-to-back home runs, setting the tone for the Twins’ offense for the remainder of the game. Nick Gordon followed with a solo shot of his own one inning later, and Max Kepler contributed another in the fourth. In the fifth inning, Polanco’s second dinger of the evening extended the Twins’ lead to 6-1, which was more than enough to propel them to victory.
Polanco finished the evening with three hits in five plate appearances and raised his slash line to .280/.336/.520 in 133 games. His 29 home runs represent the most in franchise history by a switch-hitter and by a second baseman not named Brian Dozier.
With his performance Saturday evening, Polanco eclipsed the 4.0 fWAR mark, placing him inside the top 25 performers on offense this season. While he did not make the All-Star team and got off to a slow start while still recovering from back-to-back ankles surgeries, Polanco’s second-half eruption is worthy of garnering MVP votes come season’s end despite the Twins being among the worst teams in all of baseball. He won’t get many — heck, there’s a good chance that he won’t get any — but few players have had a more impressive August and early September than the Twins’ second baseman.
Even though Polanco and the Twins’ offense stole the show, Michael Pineda’s start should not be overlooked. The impending free agent lowered his ERA to 3.87 on the season and has allowed two or fewer runs in seven of his last 10 appearances. His overall strikeout numbers are down this year, and some of his advanced metrics suggest that he hasn’t been quite as good as his box score numbers, but overall his performance this season, when healthy, has been admirable.
The Twins and Royals conclude their series on Sunday afternoon when Bailey Ober (2-2, 4.00 ERA) is expected to face off against Kris Bubic (4-6, 5.07 ERA). First pitch is slated for 1:10 PM CST.
Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet
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