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  • Twins 4, Red Sox 1: Mejia Shines, Kepler Powers Twins To Fenway Win


    Seth Stohs

    After losing the first two games of this four-game series in Boston, the Twins really needed to play well on Wednesday night if only to get the taste from an ugly Tuesday night loss out of their mouth. As always, it starts with pitching. Maybe he was helped by being given a first-inning lead, but Adalberto Mejia got the job done. He threw 5.2 scoreless innings. The bullpen came through in a big way too, and Max Kepler added a blast as the Twins found a way to come back from a rough one to get the win.

    Image courtesy of Winslow Townson, USA Today

    The Twins took the lead in the first inning when they scored two runs, all with two outs. Joe Mauer doubled. It was followed by a double by Miguel Sano. Next up, Max Kepler dropped a well-placed hit into the outfield grass to score Sano and give the Twins a 2-0 lead.

    Joe Mauer, who had two hits and a couple of great defensive plays, said that getting early runs was important and Adalberto Mejia was terrific.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HBbdqJyQuUk

    As he had in his previous outing, Mejia found a way to get out of some tough situations. A couple of times, two runners were on with less than two outs, and Mejia got an infield pop up or a strikeout.

    In the top of the sixth with Miguel Sano on base, Max Kepler crushed a ball into the right field seats. Crushed is probably the right word. The exit velocity, per Baseball Savant, was hit at 108 mph at just a 17-degree angle and yet it still traveled 409 feet.

    https://twitter.com/DingerTracker/status/880228965797036032

    Manager Paul Molitor noted after the game that Mejia battled, but he and the offense allowed them to use their key bullpen arms (Duffey, Rogers, Kintzler):

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bxI9M5dqyKY

    That provided a little wiggle room, which was needed. Tyler Duffey loaded the bases with some control issues in the seventh inning, but Taylor Rogers came on and got a huge strikeout from Mitch Moreland. Rogers also threw a dominant eighth frame. Brandon Kintzler came in for the ninth inning. He gave up a double, but he got a great defensive play from Jorge Polanco for the second out. Xander Bogaerts struck out to end the game.

    ccs-19-0-16351300-1498708226_thumb.png

    Mejia Impresses

    What was impressive about Adalberto Mejia, beyond his ability to work out of tough situations, was his pitch mix. It’s clear he’s got a long-term big league future because of it. Check out how well he mixed things up throughout his appearance in this game.

    ccs-19-0-36674900-1498708187.png

    He threw a total of 54 fastballs, 27 sliders and 20 changeups. The fastball averaged 92 mph (with a max of 94.6 mph). His slider and changeup both averaged about 83 mph. It makes it really tough on a hitter.

    Also impressive was his ability to throw all of his pitches from the same release point (or very close).

    ccs-19-0-46330400-1498708141.png

    AL Central

    Wins at the top of the division. Losses at the bottom of the division. Three teams are now playing at least .500 baseball. Cleveland beat Texas 5-3. Kansas City beat Detroit 8-2, and Chicago lost to the Yankees.

    Cleveland 41-36 .532

    TWINS 40-36 .526

    Kansas City 38-38 .500

    Detroit 34-43 .442

    Chicago 33-44 .429

    Bullpen

    ccs-19-0-35820100-1498708111.png

    What’s Next?

    It isn’t going to get any easier for the Twins. On Thursday at 6:10, it will be Kyle Gibson (4-5, 6.23 ERA) facing lefty David Price (2-2, 4.76 ERA).

    It hasn’t always been pretty, but in his last six starts, Gibson is 3-1 with a 4.00 ERA. That includes a game in which he gave up six earned runs. In the other five starts, he’s given up three runs once and two or less four times. However, he was only able to go 4.2 innings in his most recent start due to pitch count.

    Price has made five starts since returning from the disabled list with elbow issues. In his second start back, he gave up one run over seven innings. In four starts since then, he has given up 14 earned runs in 22 innings over four starts (5.73 ERA). But the Twins did struggle against two left-handers earlier in this series.

    --------------------------------------

    Hopefully Tom will be back to providing his great Game Recap work on Thursday. It’s been fun to do, and interesting to watch the game a little differently throughout.

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    Nice to see Mejia have a better game.  You can definitely call it a better game when he worked his way out of jams.  Wasn't that long ago that he'd fall apart.  Still needs work, but still trending up.  I'll take that!

     

    Really, really need legitimate bullpen help.  Can't keep running Duffey, Rogers and Kintzler out there every game.

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    Nice to see Mejia have a better game.  You can definitely call it a better game when he worked his way out of jams.  Wasn't that long ago that he'd fall apart.  Still needs work, but still trending up.  I'll take that!

     

    Really, really need legitimate bullpen help.  Can't keep running Duffey, Rogers and Kintzler out there every game.

    I would say it needs help for sure, but with the addition of Busenits, Hiledenbrger and Boshiers it looks better. Now it is a question of 1 or 2 more arms.

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    I would say it needs help for sure, but with the addition of Busenits, Hiledenbrger and Boshiers it looks better. Now it is a question of 1 or 2 more arms.

    Call me crazy but I'm excited for the Phil Hughes era in the pen. I don't think he's going to jump in as a late inning setup guy but I think he'll bring a nice arm to the middle innings and it's not crazy if he turns into a quality setup man in the next few years if he can get a bit more velocity pitching in shorter stints.

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    And Mauer had some really nice plays at 1B. I know he's not worth $23 million but I'm loving this resurgent season. That scoop yesterday was huge and he did an excellent job getting back to the bag after diving, something that's way harder than it looks.

     

    And in other fun news, Mauer and Eric Hosmer are the only two qualified first basemen with no errors. Let's see Hosmer make an error this weekend. At a really important time.

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    And Mauer had some really nice plays at 1B. I know he's not worth $23 million but I'm loving this resurgent season. That scoop yesterday was huge and he did an excellent job getting back to the bag after diving, something that's way harder than it looks.

     

    And in other fun news, Mauer and Eric Hosmer are the only two qualified first basemen with no errors. Let's see Hosmer make an error this weekend. At a really important time.

     

    Mauer definitely deserves a Gold Glove. I don't know what or who the competition is. Mitch Moreland won last year, but Mauer has been remarkable.  And you're right... that diving attempt, get up, get back to the bag, and no-look catch the toss from Dozier while finding the base is so hard. His other play, the one where Mejia didn't get to the bag on time, was incredible too. Too bad they didn't get an out on it because that was web gem worthy too. and yes, that scoop on the Polanco throw was great. That's a recurring theme, Mauer scooping Polanco throws. He's saved him a lot of errors this year. 

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    Mauer definitely deserves a Gold Glove. I don't know what or who the competition is. Mitch Moreland won last year, but Mauer has been remarkable.  And you're right... that diving attempt, get up, get back to the bag, and no-look catch the toss from Dozier while finding the base is so hard. His other play, the one where Mejia didn't get to the bag on time, was incredible too. Too bad they didn't get an out on it because that was web gem worthy too. and yes, that scoop on the Polanco throw was great. That's a recurring theme, Mauer scooping Polanco throws. He's saved him a lot of errors this year. 

    And on the offensive side, gotta like his stinging two-out gapper and later avoiding injury to the pitcher and himself on his swinging bunt. The guy's a great athlete.

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    Meija does have a future, but he needs to get deeper into games. It's driving me nuts to look at his pitch count in the 3rd or 4th inning and always think "no way does he get through 6". (and it's even worse with Jack "Grumpy Old Man" Morris on color, bitching about how they didn't need pitch counts back in the day and oblique strains are just a made up injury for modern times because the players just aren't what they used to be)

     

    Mauer's defense really has turned into something pretty remarkable. He's making athletic plays, smart decisions, and is just so consistent over there in receiving the ball. It's got to make it easier on Sano, Polanco, Escobar, and Dozier fielding the ball knowing that Mauer is there for them if they can just get the ball over.

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    The emergence of Polanco and the growing promise of Mejia makes the Nunez trade look pretty good. Trade a proven veteran who is redundant due to a rising star (with other rising stars behind him in this case) for someone young who might become useful.

     

    It kind of reminds me of another trade with the Giants that turned out pretty well for the Twins. Come to think of it, maybe we should only trade with the Giants (and never with the Nationals).

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    Really impressed with Mejia. He was at about 89-91 in the first few innings, but was throwing 93-94 in the 5th and 6th innings. He was also able to throw a strike when he needed to for the most part in this one.

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    Taylor Rogers is doing a fantastic job. What a year he's having.

     

    Yeah, I've been saying they should make him a reliever for the past two years but that was more because I thought he'd never make it as a starter, not because I thought he'd be anything more than a second or third lefty depth option. He's been excellent - probably the reliever I believe in the most? I love when he gets to a three ball two strike count, he's not afraid to flash a devastating curve.

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