SP: Sonny Gray: 4 2/3 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, (80 pitches, 49 strikes (61.3%))
Home Runs: Jorge Polanco (15), Gary Sanchez (11)
Bottom 3 WPA: Sonny Gray (-.280), Griffin Jax (-.172), Carlos Correa (-.148)
Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs)
Byron Buxton was not in the starting lineup Wednesday night. He has only played one inning in the field in the month of August. Rocco Baldelli revealed that his knee has experienced increased swelling since an awkward landing on a jump in San Diego. The best version of the Twins involves Buxton in centerfield and it’s tough to see them making a playoff run without him out there. He can provide plenty of offensive value but part of what makes him such a special player is the value he provides the team in the outfield.
Polanco Stays Hot
After a tough 0-for-4 night on Tuesday, Jorge Polanco got the scoring started for the Twins in the third inning when he hammered a three-run homer down the right field line to give them a 3-2 lead. Since coming off the injured list on June 28, Polanco is hitting .222/.366/.462 (.828) with eight home runs and 21 RBI
Gary Breaks The Drought
Gary Sanchez hit his last home run on July 9th. In the fifth inning on Wednesday, he hammered a fastball from Ryan Pepiot 400 feet to right-center for his 11th homer of the year. Between homers, Gary hit .170/.283/.191 (.474) in 54 plate appearances. Hopefully, this home run is the start of one of those Gary Sanchez hot streaks where he can be one of the most prolific power hitters in the league.
Sonny Side Down
Sonny Gray did not have his best stuff, not making it through five innings before being pulled for Caleb Thielbar. Sonny struck out five batters and allowed three earned runs. He held the Dodgers mostly under control the first two times through the order, but the top of the Dodgers order went double, single, pop-out, double off of him the third time through.
Homer Happy Bullpen
Chris Taylor hit the go-ahead homer in the bottom of the sixth off of an 0-2 slider from Michael Fulmer. Before that plate appearance, right-handed hitters had not homered off of Fulmer in 111 plate appearances this year. So naturally, the Dodgers were the first team to do so.
One inning later, Joey Gallo hit a pinch-hit three-run homer for his first homer as a Dodger off of Griffin Jax to give the Dodgers an 8-4 lead.
Cole Sands did throw a 1-2-3 eighth inning which included strikeouts to Chris Taylor and Cody Bellinger so that is a good sign going forward for the rookie.
All Rise for Arraez
MLB’s leader in batting average, Luis Arraez, continued the heater he has been on lately. After an uncharacteristic 7-for-42 stretch, Arraez has multiple hits in his last three games, going 9-for-14 in those games, including a 3-for-4 performance on Wednesday. This ties Arraez for second in MLB in three-hit games, his 13th three-hit performance of the season.
Cold Streak for Kepler
Since coming off the IL on Saturday, Max Kepler is 0-for-17 and has not reached base safely. He could still be getting acclimated to playing with a broken pinky toe, but the Twins will need Kepler to start hitting, at the very least, at a league-average clip for him to be a solid contributor to the team.
The Twins have an off-day Thursday, followed by a three-game set just 30 miles Southeast against the Los Angeles Angels. On Friday, they play at 8:38 PM CST and Tyler Mahle will make his second start as a Twin against southpaw Patrick Sandoval.
Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet