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  • Diamondbacks 7, Twins 2: Twins Drop Series Opener to Diamondbacks


    Theo Tollefson

    The Twins played their first game in Arizona since 2011 on Friday night. On the second pitcher of the game, Byron Buxton tied his career-high in home runs, but from there the Diamondbacks, took control of the game.  

    Image courtesy of Mark J. Rebilas, USA TODAY Sports

    Box Score
    SP: Devin Smeltzer 4 1/3 IP, 9 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 3 K (96 pitches, 62 strikes (64.5 strike %))
    Home Runs: Byron Buxton (19)
    Bottom 3 WPA: Devin Smeltzer -.406, Gilberto Celestino -.207, Carlos Correa -.103

     

    1581311647_TwinsLoss6-17-22.png.f0cb1467d9a0bd84cf0607bee7ca709d.png

    Following Buxton’s homer, Gary Sanchez and Luis Arraez reached base on a single and double but were unable to score as Jose Miranda lined out to center field. . 

    After Buxton put the Twins up 1-0 in the top of the first, Arizona responded in the bottom of the inning.. Twins starter Devin Smeltzer allowed a lead-off single to D-Backs catcher Carson Kelly. One out later, Smeltzer met a new yet familiar foe; former Cleveland Guardian Jordan Luplow.

    Prior to their first match-up for the evening, Luplow was 0-for-3 in his career against Smeltzer. That changed with one swing of the bat as Luplow connected with a Smeltzer fastball right down the middle for his eighth home run of the year putting the D-Backs up 2-1. Smeltzer retired the next two batters in the bottom of the first on groundouts, escaping further base runners. 

    In the top of the second, the Twins had two base runners reach thanks to a Max Kepler single and Buxton double. But again the Twins couldn’t get the runners home to retake their lead. 

    Once the top of the third came around, the Twins were finally able to capitalize on their runners. Gio Urshela led off the inning with a double and was able to advance to third on an Arraez single. Following Arraez was Miranda and he capitalized with an RBI single to score Urshela and tie the game at 2-2. 

    Just as it looked like the Twins were back in the game, Luplow had other plans. Up for his second at-bat and with two outs, Luplow hit another home run off of Smeltzer to give the Diamondbacks the lead once more. 

    With the score still 3-2 going into the bottom of the fourth the Diamondbacks were able to capitalize and run away with a lead, It all started with a leadoff walk to D-Backs designated hitter Bobby Kennedy. Following Kennedy, right fielder Alek Thomas hit a single, setting up the D-Backs for an opportunity to take the lead.

    And take the lead the D-Backs did. In a bizarre outcome, Diamondbacks second baseman Jake Hager offered a sacrifice bunt that could have kept runners on second and third with one out for Smeltzer. Instead, Smeltzer threw the ball away at first resulting in an error that allowed both Kennedy and Thomas to score and extend Arizona’s lead to 5-2. 

    Hager was able to score later in the inning on a Carson Kelly single making the game 6-2 D-Backs, and as Jordan Luplow got to the plate for his third at-bat against Smeltzer. Twins fans wondered if Smeltzer could record the final out of the inning. Fortunately for Smeltzer, he was able to retire Luplow on a groundout to Urshela, but not without 4 runs, (3 earned) surrendered to the Diamondbacks. 

    Even after a rough fourth inning, Smeltzer returned to the mound to start the bottom of the fifth. But he would not find his way out of the inning as he surrendered two more hits, both singles, to Daulton Varsho and Kennedy. This ended Smeltzer's outing for the evening as Rocco Baldelli called on Tyler Thornburg to get the Twins out of the inning.

    Thornburg got the Twins out of the inning but not before giving up another RBI single to Hager with the run charged to Smeltzer. As the Twins left the field in the bottom of the fifth, the Diamondbacks held a 7-2 lead against them. 

    The remainder of the game was uneventful for the Twins at the plate but Byron Buxton kept fans entertained with four of the top five exit velocities in the game. Although Buxton was 2-for-4 for the night, Star Tribune beat writer Phil Miller noted on Twitter that Buxton had four of the top five exit velocities in the game. Even topping Luplow’s second home run’s exit velocity. 

    The bullpen held together for the Twins following Smeltzer’s outing. Thornburg completed 2 2/3 innings allowing only one single after the fifth and allowed no further base runners or runs in his frame of work. In the bottom of the eighth, Tyler Duffey threw a 1, 2, 3 inning to keep the Diamondbacks lead at five runs. 

    The Twins had one last chance for runs in the bottom of the ninth but fell up short as Alex Kirilloff pinch hit in his return only to strike out. Trevor Larnach grounded out on a bouncer to third base, and Byron Buxton ended the game on a groundout to short, giving the D-Backs a 7-2 win over the Twins. 

    What’s Next? 
    The Twins play a late one Saturday night with a 9:10 p.m. start for their second game against the Diamondbacks in the three-game series. Dylan Bundy will start for the Twins while Diamondbacks hurler Luke Weaver

    Postgame Interview

     


     

    Bullpen Availability 

     

      MON TUE WED THU FRI TOT
                 
    Cotton 18 0 16 0 0 34
    Thornburg 0 0 0 0 33 33
    Duran 13 0 13 0 0 26
    Jax 12 0 11 0 0 23
    Pagán 18 0 0 0 0 18
    Smith 1 0 15 0 0 16
    Megill 0 14 0 0 0 14
    Thielbar 8 0 4 0 0 12
    Duffey 0 0 0 0 9 9

     

     

     

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    It seems like every other game we have to question the pitching decisions.  Archer and Gray are doing great and get pulled what some would consider early.  Smeltzer doesn't have it, gives up 6 runs in 4 innings and has an elevated pitch count, and is right back out there for the 5th.  If this was the first time (or 2nd, or 3rd..........) this question has come up, no one would be concerned, just a little curious.  But this pattern, or lack of it(?), happens so often it makes you shake your head quite a bit of the time.   If anyone can understand this mind set, and explain it in plain English, I sure would curious.  I have been watching this team since '65 and I just do not understand this manager's thought process game in and game out.  Win, lose, or draw, playoffs, or last place, at least I understood the process.  Smarter folks than I will have to help me out here.  

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    The real story here: Cleveland is now just 1 game back. Twins may not even be in first place anymore by the end of this series. All of this playoff talk and deadline trade talk is kind of crazy considering they aren't going to make the post season unless they can hit the baseball.

    Because I'm afraid that no matter how much hand-wringing we do about the pitching staff, the real problem with this team is that they have too many games where they can't hit when it counts. They're in another deep scoring slump with 0, 3, 0, 5, and 2 runs scored over their past five games. And that five-spot was only due to a late-inning rally, they were well on their way to scoring just 1 run that game.

    Twins have light-hitting Urshela, Larnach, Miranda, and Kirilloff all in the lineup, with Jeffers rejoining them tomorrow. I really don't see how this team can win ballgames or score unless at least 2-3 of these guys start pulling their weight.

     

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    14 minutes ago, bighat said:

    The real story here: Cleveland is now just 1 game back. Twins may not even be in first place anymore by the end of this series. All of this playoff talk and deadline trade talk is kind of crazy considering they aren't going to make the post season unless they can hit the baseball.

    Because I'm afraid that no matter how much hand-wringing we do about the pitching staff, the real problem with this team is that they have too many games where they can't hit when it counts. They're in another deep scoring slump with 0, 3, 0, 5, and 2 runs scored over their past five games. And that five-spot was only due to a late-inning rally, they were well on their way to scoring just 1 run that game.

    Twins have light-hitting Urshela, Larnach, Miranda, and Kirilloff all in the lineup, with Jeffers rejoining them tomorrow. I really don't see how this team can win ballgames or score unless at least 2-3 of these guys start pulling their weight.

     

    Agreed.  My amateur sleuthing shows we have scored 3 runs or less in just over half.......HALF.......of our 66 games.  That has worked up until now against quite a bit of sub .500 competition, but we need to start scoring runs.  That means manufacturing some now and then Rocco.  A well timed bunt, an occasional hit and run, being more aggressive on the bases, etc.  I didn't actually see the game, but according to this recap we had a single followed by a double and stayed at third and a double followed by a single and stayed at third.  We led off the game with a solo HR and after that scored one run the rest of the way despite 5 doubles.  No runs on SF's, ground outs, etc.  If we don't get a HR or 3 or more hits in an inning..........you have to use the runners you have better, and that begins and ends with the manager/coaches.  

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    17 minutes ago, Mark G said:

    I didn't actually see the game, but according to this recap we had a single followed by a double and stayed at third and a double followed by a single and stayed at third. 

    Both doubles came with 2 outs. The Arraez double was mashed and the runner would have easily scored but it went over the wall and was a ground-rule double, meaning Sanchez had to come back to 3rd base. Miranda then couldn't deliver with two outs. The double by Buxton the next inning was hit so hard that it bounced back off the wall into play very quickly.  Kepler really didn't have a chance to score, and he'd have been out at home. Correa then couldn't deliver with 2 outs.

    Twins should've, could've been up 5-2 or more by the mid 2nd inning, but the clutch hitting was nowhere to be seen.

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    33 minutes ago, bighat said:

    Both doubles came with 2 outs. The Arraez double was mashed and the runner would have easily scored but it went over the wall and was a ground-rule double, meaning Sanchez had to come back to 3rd base. Miranda then couldn't deliver with two outs. The double by Buxton the next inning was hit so hard that it bounced back off the wall into play very quickly.  Kepler really didn't have a chance to score, and he'd have been out at home. Correa then couldn't deliver with 2 outs.

    Twins should've, could've been up 5-2 or more by the mid 2nd inning, but the clutch hitting was nowhere to be seen.

    This.  The Twins got a few bad breaks, couldn't get a big two out hit, or didn't execute with the bases loaded.

    Just one of those games when things didn't bounce their way.  (And then a bunch of fielding blunders)

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    Flat out ugly game. No clutch hitting, lousy pitching, very sloppy fielding..just one big mess against a lineup that the Saints could beat. Guardians are hot and have several games in hand. They are ready to take over the division. Twins need to regroup and try to start a winning streak or the good and perhaps lucky start will be for naught. It was painful watching last night. Very poor show.

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    I mentioned it above. They looked like little leaguers in the field. When I saw Arizona's lineup I actually wondered if they were a legit major league team. They sure showed us last night. And getting runners on 2nd and 3rd does no good if nobody can bring them in.

     

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    7 hours ago, Mark G said:

    It seems like every other game we have to question the pitching decisions.  Archer and Gray are doing great and get pulled what some would consider early.  Smeltzer doesn't have it, gives up 6 runs in 4 innings and has an elevated pitch count, and is right back out there for the 5th.  If this was the first time (or 2nd, or 3rd..........) this question has come up, no one would be concerned, just a little curious.  But this pattern, or lack of it(?), happens so often it makes you shake your head quite a bit of the time.   If anyone can understand this mind set, and explain it in plain English, I sure would curious.  I have been watching this team since '65 and I just do not understand this manager's thought process game in and game out.  Win, lose, or draw, playoffs, or last place, at least I understood the process.  Smarter folks than I will have to help me out here.  

    Archer is coming off of years of injuries and is on an innings limit slowly building stamina, Gray is coming off back to back IL stints and is on an innings limit quickly building up to full go, Smeltzer is healthy and they let him go over 100 pitches.

    The Twins front office staff, trainers, medical staff, coaching staff and these players are all on board with this situation. I'll bet to a man (or woman) they all would love it if these pitchers were pumping out complete game shut outs and I'll bet they all like winning. The Twins have been running out pitchers that on paper one wouldn't guess they'd be in first place, but yet they are. Someone must be doing something right. 

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    The game was a disaster.  And so is Rocco's handling of the pitching staff.  With the previous day off the bullpen was rested enough that Smeltzer should have been lifted earlier.  Granted that decision didn't cost them the game as the team played poorly all around.  Keep making excuses for Archer.  Well he needs to be stretched out at some point.  He's been an ok additio n but not great.  My guess is if not for his prior connection to Baldelli he probably wouldn't be pitching in the majors right now.  

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    I gotta say that this team is proving to be pretty much a .500 team. They had their chance and blew it against Detroit and KC big time. They should win half their teams against the good teams, if they are going to be good. That's not special if you are going to win a division. But the "rookie" mistakes the rookies make is discouraging. More runs left on the bases. More dropped balls. More bad throws. Even rookies should know how to make good decisions. The game is the same, and they know the rules and drill. No real excuse, you know, 

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    56 minutes ago, adjacent said:

    One thing nobody commented, is that our defense was terrible last night. A pitcher like Smeltzer can't survive that. Clutch hitting comes and goes, But the defense is something that they have to clean up.

    True. Especially when he was the biggest part of the horrible defense himself. He didn't even run to back up Sanchez at home after his throw that let the two runs score. Just leaned over and felt sorry for himself with his hands on his knees.

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    1 hour ago, h2oface said:

    I gotta say that this team is proving to be pretty much a .500 team. They had their chance and blew it against Detroit and KC big time. They should win half their teams against the good teams, if they are going to be good. That's not special if you are going to win a division. But the "rookie" mistakes the rookies make is discouraging. More runs left on the bases. More dropped balls. More bad throws. Even rookies should know how to make good decisions. The game is the same, and they know the rules and drill. No real excuse, you know, 

    The Central is Cleveland's to win right now, they're a red hot team that is clicking while the Twins lose games they should win while the bullpen implodes and offense disappears. 

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    1 minute ago, rwilfong86 said:

    The Central is Cleveland's to win right now, they're a red hot team that is clicking while the Twins lose games they should win while the bullpen implodes and offense disappears. 

    It's my fault.  I finally caved into peer pressure the other day and forecast something around 85 wins. :)

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    7 minutes ago, rwilfong86 said:

    The Central is Cleveland's to win right now, they're a red hot team that is clicking while the Twins lose games they should win while the bullpen implodes and offense disappears. 

    No doubt I'll see this again on September 20 when the Twins hold a two-game lead.

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    2 hours ago, Whitey333 said:

    Granted that decision didn't cost them the game as the team played poorly all around.

    Nope. The manager’s decisions did not cost them this game. You got that right. The players lost this one all by themselves. It was a terrible game.

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    3 hours ago, terrydactyls said:

    Rocco waited too long.  Rocco pulled him too fast.  Come on folks.  Make up your mind!

    As my post above, and many others like it, was trying to convey, that is the whole point.  You never know which one you are going to get on a particular day.  If you have had an injury of any kind in the last 3 years you are on a leash.  If not, you are free to not only throw more pitches, but give up runs almost every inning before finally getting pulled.  Ryan, Bundy, and Smeltzer are allowed to give up 4 or 5 runs in 4.1 - 5 innings, but Archer, Gray, and others get pulled at a certain point no matter how well they are doing?  Is that the pattern I just haven't seen?  Is that the strategy everyone is on board with and thinks is a winning plan?  I go to my Dr. and say "Doc, it hurts when I do this" his reply would be "don't do that".  If you get injured pitching more than others, pitch less than others.  They used to call that a relief pitcher.  A starter used to.........oh, what's the point?  :)  

    Just as an aside, we have used 7 pitchers that have only started, no relief appearances.  5 of the 7 are averaging less than 5 innings a start.  When do past injuries become nothing more than paranoia, and when do they signal the pitcher just shouldn't be a starter?  Or maybe, just maybe, be a hint that we should be stretching out our starters long before mid June?   Before you yell at me too loud, I should point out that I may be of an age where it could be construed as elder abuse.  :)  :)  

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    1 hour ago, Mark G said:

    As my post above, and many others like it, was trying to convey, that is the whole point.  You never know which one you are going to get on a particular day.  If you have had an injury of any kind in the last 3 years you are on a leash.  If not, you are free to not only throw more pitches, but give up runs almost every inning before finally getting pulled.  Ryan, Bundy, and Smeltzer are allowed to give up 4 or 5 runs in 4.1 - 5 innings, but Archer, Gray, and others get pulled at a certain point no matter how well they are doing?  Is that the pattern I just haven't seen?

    I think the pattern is this: the team is using logic similar to what you use at the poker table.  Resources are not infinite and you can't use your bullpen like it's the 7th game of the World Series, every game.  So, some "hands" you bet the minimum you can (there's not quite an equivalent in baseball to folding, until you bring Nick Gordon in to pitch), and other "hands" you compete to win. Once you're down by a run or more, even early, your odds are less than 50/50 even if you pull out all the stops.  If your offense explodes in the middle innings, you re-evaluate, but based on what actually happened, not on what you hope.  Hope will kill you at the poker table (and I'm not enough of a player to go beyond that bit of basic insight).

    You can argue against this.  Baseball isn't poker for starters (no pun intended), although the gradual "reveal" as the games go forward in their respective ways have a least some parallels.  But I think this is the pattern you are looking for.  "Delicate" arms like Archer's you protect by using a short leash in terms of innings or pitch count; other arms you allow a longer leash and if a given game doesn't go well you still leave them in there (within some other limits) to try to save the bullpen.  There's also the "third time through the batting order" factor.  Et cetera.  I believe the accusations that the manager is merely a robot reading some spreadsheet are groundless, but they do seem to operate from certain guiding principles which vary from pitcher to pitcher and thus seem inconsistent.

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    2 hours ago, Mark G said:

    As my post above, and many others like it, was trying to convey, that is the whole point.  You never know which one you are going to get on a particular day.  If you have had an injury of any kind in the last 3 years you are on a leash.  If not, you are free to not only throw more pitches, but give up runs almost every inning before finally getting pulled.  Ryan, Bundy, and Smeltzer are allowed to give up 4 or 5 runs in 4.1 - 5 innings, but Archer, Gray, and others get pulled at a certain point no matter how well they are doing?  Is that the pattern I just haven't seen?  Is that the strategy everyone is on board with and thinks is a winning plan?  I go to my Dr. and say "Doc, it hurts when I do this" his reply would be "don't do that".  If you get injured pitching more than others, pitch less than others.  They used to call that a relief pitcher.  A starter used to.........oh, what's the point?  :)  

    Just as an aside, we have used 7 pitchers that have only started, no relief appearances.  5 of the 7 are averaging less than 5 innings a start.  When do past injuries become nothing more than paranoia, and when do they signal the pitcher just shouldn't be a starter?  Or maybe, just maybe, be a hint that we should be stretching out our starters long before mid June?   Before you yell at me too loud, I should point out that I may be of an age where it could be construed as elder abuse.  :)  :)  

    Hells Bells.  I watched the first Twins' game in 1961.  Don't accuse me o elder abuse.  And get off my lawn!!!!

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    15 minutes ago, terrydactyls said:

    Hells Bells.  I watched the first Twins' game in 1961.  Don't accuse me o elder abuse.  And get off my lawn!!!!

    I wanna watch a cage match between two elders, and see them both hauled off to court as a consequence!  Being so young myself, and all.

    Sorry but you have to blame Rocco.

    I just checked b-r.com and on the Twins page it shows this:

    Manager: Rocco Baldelli (37-29)

    So yes, those 29 are all on Rocco.

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    5 hours ago, ashbury said:

    I think the pattern is this: the team is using logic similar to what you use at the poker table.  Resources are not infinite and you can't use your bullpen like it's the 7th game of the World Series, every game.  So, some "hands" you bet the minimum you can (there's not quite an equivalent in baseball to folding, until you bring Nick Gordon in to pitch), and other "hands" you compete to win. Once you're down by a run or more, even early, your odds are less than 50/50 even if you pull out all the stops.  If your offense explodes in the middle innings, you re-evaluate, but based on what actually happened, not on what you hope.  Hope will kill you at the poker table (and I'm not enough of a player to go beyond that bit of basic insight).

    You can argue against this.  Baseball isn't poker for starters (no pun intended), although the gradual "reveal" as the games go forward in their respective ways have a least some parallels.  But I think this is the pattern you are looking for.  "Delicate" arms like Archer's you protect by using a short leash in terms of innings or pitch count; other arms you allow a longer leash and if a given game doesn't go well you still leave them in there (within some other limits) to try to save the bullpen.  There's also the "third time through the batting order" factor.  Et cetera.  I believe the accusations that the manager is merely a robot reading some spreadsheet are groundless, but they do seem to operate from certain guiding principles which vary from pitcher to pitcher and thus seem inconsistent.

    I understand everything you are saying, and I actually agree with more than I might be coming across.  My sole argument is, has been, and always will be, is that if you are too fragile to go a starter's distance, then you are not a starter and shouldn't be put in that role.  If you are deemed healthy enough to return to a starter's role, then you are able to go a certain distance (that includes a 3rd time, or more, through the lineup) unless you are just not on that day and need to be relieved.  Then, as you point out, the lower end of the bullpen comes in until you are back in the game, if ever, at which point the upper end comes in.  When starters become 4 inning pitchers, or just two times through the lineup, then the bullpen has to pitch too many innings, requiring several pitchers to be on their game each and every game to have a winning chance.  When one is already on that day, especially your starter, you ride that horse until it slows down.  When simply pitching injures a pitcher he may simply not be a starter and shouldn't be used as one.  Use the skills he has in the shorter situations that bring out his best.  Wasn't that the reason they kept increasing the pitching staff to a dozen and a half guys (including the shuttle bus to and from AAA)?  Managers might not be robots just reading their computers, but ours (and our FO) are so afraid of someone getting hurt they don't allow them to build up the strength to not get hurt.  For all the worry about players who are coming off of injuries any time in the last 3 years, they still fill their IL's month after month and year after year, so maybe they should listen to me.  :)  (TD doesn't have to listen to me, though)

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