In Jaime Garcia’s first inning, he struck out two in a 1-2-3 innings. In the second, things didn’t go as smoothly. He walked the first two batters, and then he gave up a line drive single to load the bases. That’s when he showed what he is capable of. He started by striking out Ryan Lavarnway. Next, veteran Matt Joyce grounded into a double play to end the inning, end the threat. Same thing in the third inning, Adam Rosales led off with a double. Again, Garcia was up to the challenge. He struck out the next two batters before getting the third out on a pop out.
The Twins bats showed up in the top of the fourth inning, though some with the help of the A’s defense. Jason Castro had an RBI double. It was followed by a Brian Dozier RBI single to make it 3-0. Castro scored from third on a very wild pitch. With two outs, Miguel Sano grounded toward shortstop. Marcus Semien fielded but airmailed the throw. The first baseman Ryan Healy had to leap and Sano reached the bag safely. Meanwhile, Dozier rounded third and kept going. Healy threw a strike home, but Lavarnway just dropped the ball. Dozier was out easily if the ball was caught. Those extra, bonus runs are always appreciated.
They are appreciated because Garcia wasn’t able to work out of a mess in the fourth, however, A lead off double was followed by a walk. Garcia did get a strikeout, but then Jason Castro had a bad passed ball, allowing the runners to move up. Lavarnway came up again, and this time he doubled in two runs.
Castro helped get one of the runs back in the fifth inning when he added another RBI double to give the Twins their sixth run.
After that, it was Garcia and the Twins bullpen. Garcia gave up a run on three hits in the bottom of the fifth, but he was again able to get a big double play ball to end that inning. But in the sixth frame, he got a fly out followed by two strikeouts. Because he was still at just 90 pitches, he went out to start the seventh inning too. He got the first two outs of the inning, but after a single, Matt Belisle came on and got the final out. Belisle added another scoreless inning in the eighth. His streak of games without allowing an earned run is now at 12 games, and he’s allowed an earned run in just one of his last 17 appearances.
Brandon Kintzler came on to protect a 6-3 lead in the ninth inning. It took some work. He threw a lot of pitches, but he was able to get out of it without allowing a run to record his 28th save. Jaime Garcia is now 1-0 as an American League pitcher.
More important, that Twins losing streak stops at four games. It was the Twins 50th win of the year, and it came much, much earlier in the season than it did a year ago.
Win Expectancy (via fangraphs)
Top Five Twins (by Win Expectancy)
- Jason Castro - (.194) - 2-4, 2 RBI doubles
- Jaime Garcia - (.149) - 6.2 IP, 3 ER.
- Ehire Adrianza - (.118) - 2-5
- Matt Belisle - (.068) - 1.1 IP, 2 K
- Robbie Grossman - (.067) - 1-3, 2 BB
Obviously when you knock in runs twice when the game is still quite close, you’ve had a big impact on the game and on win expectancy. The Twins 7, 8 and 9 hitters (Granite, Adrianza and Castro) each had two hits in the game. Jaime Garcia got into and fought out of several tough situations.
Jason Castro discussed with Audra Martin following the game what it meant to contribute with his bat, as well as what he saw from Jaime Garcia.
Cleveland and Kansas City remain hot. The Royals beat the Red Sox at Fenway Park thanks to a three-run homer from Mike Moustakus in the top of the nint to give them a 4-2 lead. It was Kansas City’s ninth straight win. Cleveland won big over the White Sox, their eighth straight win. Detroit fell to Brad Peacock and the Houston Astros.
Cleveland 56-45 .554 ---
Kansas City 54-47 .535 2.0
TWINS 50-51 .495 6.0
Detroit 45-56 .446 11.0
Chicago 39-61 .390 15.5
Brandon Kintzler needed a lot of pitches to get his 28th save. Matt Belisle was good again and kept his pitch count low. After a day off on Thursday, the bullpen should be pretty well-rested. Here is a look at which relievers may be available on Saturday night.
The Twins and A’s will play the second game of a three-game series on Saturday (8:10 central time). It will be Adalberto Mejia against RHP Chris Smith. It is a matchup of two very different pitchers.
Adalberto Mejia has been a pleasant surprise for the Twins this season. Sure, there were some bumps in the road, but of late, he has been as good as anyone in the Twins rotation. He got to the big leagues as a 22-year-old and it looks like he has a chance to stay in the for a long time.
When Chris Smith came up on July 8 this year, he became the oldest pitcher in the well-over-a-century old A’s franchise to make a start. He came up to replace injured youngster Jharel Cotton. He pitched in 13 games out of the A’s bullpen in 2016. But just as interesting, those were his first games in the big leagues since he made three appearances for the Brewers in the 2010 season. He played for Milwaukee in 2009 and 12 games with the Red Sox in 2008 when he debuted as a 27-year-old. Now 36, he is 0-1 with a 3.32 ERA.
The Twins will have to be patient and wait back. Smith was a soft-tosser when he was pitching out of the bullpen, averaging 87-88 mph with his fastball. As a starter, his average velo is down to 85 mph.He also throws a mid-70s breaking ball, and a mid-70s changeup.
So what do you think? Will Jaime Garcia stick with the Twins? Did he do enough to make you want to keep him around, or make you think he increased his trade value? What were the keys to the Twins win in your opinion?
Here are some final thoughts from the Manager, Paul Molitor.