Pineda: 5.2 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 2 K (71.9% strikes)
Home Runs: Polanco (31), Donaldson (23), Sanó (29), Rooker (8)
Top 3 WPA: Rooker .141, Buxton .117, Donaldson .095
Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs)
Minnesota’s first trip to Rogers Centre in almost two and a half years became fun very early. Both starters, Michael Pineda for the Twins and Hyun Jin Ryu for the Blue Jays, pitched economical, scoreless first innings. But then both teams combined for nine runs in the following two innings.
Miguel Sanó drew a leadoff walk in the top of the second and scored a couple of at-bats later on a Brent Rooker double, putting the Twins ahead. But an awful defensive mistake in the bottom half of that same inning gave Toronto a couple of runs that put them ahead. With two outs, Pineda induced a weak ground ball that would have ended the inning. However, Jorge Polanco overthrew Sanó, allowing Corey Dickerson to score from second and Danny Jansen to reach first. Then, Jake Lamb doubled to score Jansen, making it 2-1 Toronto.
Minnesota makes it ugly for Ryu
In a quick “Bomba Squad” flashback, the Twins exploded for five runs on five hits in their half of the third, including three home runs, before Toronto could record a single out! The game was suddenly tied after Ryan Jeffers hit a leadoff single and Byron Buxton pushed him across with a double. Then, Polanco redeemed himself from his previous error and regained the lead for Minnesota with a two-run shot.
The party wasn’t over. Josh Donaldson, who got a warm welcome from the Jays fans earlier, made it back-to-back with a bomb to right field, giving the Twins a three-run lead, prompting some Donaldson-jersey-wearing Toronto fans to boo him. That was fun. Not so much for Ryu, who was immediately pulled from the game by Jays’ manager Charlie Montoyo. That was Donaldson’s 64th home run at Rogers Centre, the most by any active player in the majors.
Miggy Smalls didn’t want to feel left out, so he followed Donaldson’s homer with a dinger of his own, his 29th of the season. That was also the 160th long ball of his career, putting him even closer to the Twins’ all-time top 10 in total home runs. He needs four more on the year to drop Tom Brunansky from 10th place. In the bottom half of the inning, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. got one run back to Toronto, hitting a rocket (111 MPH exit velocity) to left field, his 46th home run of the season.
Pineda, bullpen finish off strong
Big Mike got in the zone after that Guerrero Jr. home run in the third. Pineda retired eight in a row from that moment on, with a couple of 1-2-3 innings. After throwing 45 pitches to complete 2 1/3 innings, he needed only 30 to complete the next 2 2/3 innings. Rooker gave Pineda even more run support hitting a solo home run in the top of the sixth, making it 7-3 Minnesota.
Pineda came back and retired the first two batters of the sixth on only four pitches, making it ten batters in a row retired. But he lost Teoscar Hernández on a ten-pitch walk, causing Rocco Baldelli to take him out of the game. Jorge Alcalá took care of the inherited runner for him, concluding Pineda’s solid line for the evening. Is it possible that tonight’s outing from Big Mike might have changed Twins Daily’s Cody Pirkl’s mind about a possible reunion in 2022?
Alcalá came back for the seventh, and he continued his amazing second-half run. By pitching a clean, seven-pitch inning, the Dominican flamethrower has now posted a 1.42 ERA since the start of August. He needed only 13 pitches to get four outs, 10 of which were strikes. He also maxed out at 99.8 MPH.
Tyler Duffey was equally brilliant, striking out the side for a 1-2-3 eighth. Alexander Colomé closed out the game with a scoreless inning of his own, securing the win. A fun stat from the Twins bullpen: according to Fangraphs, before tonight's game, the Twins bullpen has ranked 8th in ERA (3.64) since the start of August. Could we be seeing some encouraging signs for 2022?
Bailey Ober will try to keep the winning streak in Toronto tomorrow against Steven Matz. With Friday's win, the Twins haven't lost a game at Rogers Centre since Aug 26, 2017. Saturday's first pitch is scheduled for 2:07 CDT.
Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet