Starting Pitcher: Ober 5 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 4 SO
Homeruns: Kepler (11), Donaldson (15), Polanco (13)
Bottom 3 WPA: Alcala -.363, Robles -.315, Ober -.195
Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs)
Small problems often become big problems. This tenet quickly embodied the Twins latest waxing at the hands of the White Sox. Amid a hot streak, Tim Anderson led off the top of the first inning. He had a scorching line drive beautifully picked by Jorge Polanco, only for Miguel Sanó to fail to get in position quickly enough. Polanco’s throw bounced off the heel of Sanó’s glove. Three hits later, the Twins were down 2-0. Bailey Ober recovered to escape further damage.
Tonight marked Ober’s fourth start against the White Sox in just his ninth MLB start. Talk about being thrown in at the deep end of the pool. Ober’s last outing against Chicago, on July 5th, was the best of his young career. He shoved, pitching five innings of shutout baseball, striking out seven. Tonight was more of a struggle. While Ober’s stuff was good, his early command lacked.
In the top of the second inning, Max Kepler hit a long home run to right field off Dallas Keuchel to trim the lead to 2-1.
Yoán Moncada launched a two-run home run to center field to extend the lead to 4-1 in the third inning, following a Jos Abreu triple. Worse still, Luis Arraez appeared to injure himself on the Abreu hit and was removed from the game in the fourth inning. Arraez’s injury is less a comment on an injury-riddled season and more on a team that has never been able to establish consistency in 2021. One player gets healthy, and another gets hurts. The team put together a strong series, and they follow it up by laying an egg. The sheer inevitability of this team stringing their woes and hardships together is as impressive as it is depressing.
The Twins gained ground in the top of the fourth inning. Miguel Sanó hit a ground-rule double to lead off. Gilberto Celestino walked, and Andrelton Simmons singled to cut the lead to 4-2 with no outs. The Twins, as has so often been the case in 2021, could not capitalize, making three straight outs to end the inning. Ober completed a scoreless bottom of the fifth for the Twins. In each start, he has shown enough to keep Twins fans coming back. Tonight, he faced the White Sox for the fourth time in his nine career MLB starts. After a shaky start, he kept the Twins in the game. In the last month, he has pitched with more stuff, poise, and effectiveness than J.A. Happ or Matt Shoemaker did throughout the season for the Twins. The future is bright for Bailey Ober.
The Twins cut the lead to one run in the top of the sixth inning. Josh Donaldson turned impressively on a fastball inside from 18th Century dispatch rider Michael Kopech, depositing it into the left-field seats for his 15th home run of the season.
Caleb Thielbar relieved Ober in the sixth inning and promptly loaded the bases. Alexander Colomé made a strong fielding play on a weak infield dribbler to get Seby Zavala out at first base to end the threat.
The Twins failed to cash in either of their two baserunners in the seventh inning, despite making Kopech work considerably throughout his outing. Alexander Colomé returned for the seventh inning. He quickly induced two ground balls, one of which was bobbled by Polanco, increasing the stress of the inning. Colomé escaped with a scoreless appearance, building on his 3.00 ERA in his previous six outings.
In the top of the eighth inning, the Twins delivered the breakthrough their grind deserved. After a Josh Donaldson single, Jorge Polanco ripped a 95 mph fastball from Ryan Burr into the right-field seats for his 13th home run of the season, giving the Twins a 5-4 lead.
Jorge Alcala entered for the Twins in the bottom of the eighth inning. He threw ten strikes in his first 22 pitches to put runners on first and second. Andrew Vaughn immediately singled to score Adam Engel, which tied the game at 5-5. Alcala left with one out in the bottom of the eighth, men on first and second, having already surrendered the tying run. Hansel Robles relieved Alcala and struck out Tim Anderson. Billy Hamilton then singled to give the White Sox a 6-5 lead. As is so often the case with the 2021 Twins, a least one phase of the team capitulated to catapult the team to a loss. After giving up the go-ahead single, Robles gave up a three-run home run to Jos Abreu, giving the Sox a 9-5 lead. The 2021 Minnesota Twins are a house of cards that falls almost every night; Tuesday was no exception. Liam Hendriks pitched the ninth for Chicago, putting the Twins 18 games back of the sure 2021 AL Central champions.
Bullpen Usage Chart
The Twins send Michael Pineda to the mound on Wednesday to face Dylan Cease. First pitch is at 7:10 CT.