SP: Sonny Gray: 5.0 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 6 K (105 pitches, 69 strikes (66%)
Home Runs: Byron Buxton (10), Michael A. Taylor (6)
Top 3 WPA: Buxton (.119), Javoni Moran (.085), Griffin Jax (.048)
Bottom 3 WPA: Jorge Lopez (-.356), Donovan Solano (-.063), Willi Castro (-.070)
Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs)
Monday night's loss left a sour taste across Twins Territory, and left both the team and the fans eager to get redemption for a night of poor plate appearances and questionable decisions. Carlos Correa took the night off with a sore heel on Tuesday, and Trevor Larnach hit the IL with a lingering illness. Would the remaining Twins be able to stand their ground against a streaky Giants squad?
Live by the Long Ball
Things got off to a bang for the Twins offense, when Donavan Solano drilled an opposite field single to right with one out. After an Alex Kirilloff strike out, Byron Buxton went first-pitch hunting and did not miss, jolting a home run to deep left center to put the Twins up 2-0 early.
Die by the Small Ball
In the bottom of the second inning, the Twins got a lucky break on a Kyle Farmer grounder to LaMonte Wade Jr. that bounced away and led to an errant throw. Willi Castro followed with an attempted sacrifice bunt, but Alex Cobb was able to get Farmer at second base. A quick Christian Vázquez double play ball later, and the rally was snuffed out on two pitches.
Live by the Long Ball - Part 2
The Twins failed to manufacture runs throughout the middle innings, until Michael A. Taylor came up with two outs in the bottom of the fifth. On a 1-2 count, Taylor called for time, gathered his bearings, and then left the yard for the sixth time this year to put the Twins up 3-0.
Sonny Skies Turn Gray in the Sixth
Gray hadn't been dominant through the first five innings, scattering five hits across the scoreless frames. J.D. Davis worked a lead-off walk in the sixth, and Michael Conforto powered a double to the left field gap. Gray stayed in to face Mitch Haniger to eclipse the 100 pitch mark, and ended up walking him as well to load the bases.
The mess was left to Jovani Moran to clean up, and he started out well by inducing a fly out by Casey Schmitt to short center, and then by striking out Wilmer Flores. The third out wouldn't come as easily, as control issues returned to Moran's outing, and he walked Patrick Bailey on four pitches to bring in the first Giants run.
When Bryce Johnson entered as a pinch hitter, Rocco Baldelli went to the bullpen again. This time it was Brock Stewart's turn to face loaded bases and a pivotal moment in the game. He responded by walking Johnson on five pitches. You can't make this stuff up.
LaMonte Wade Jr. came up next, and Stewart responded by missing badly with his first two pitches. Wade Jr. had the third best walk rate in the Majors, and things looked bleak. Pitching coach Pete Make made his way to the mound, and luckily whatever he said worked. Three strikes later, Stewart was out of the jam, and the Twins held on to their 3-2 advantage.
Die by the Long Ball
The threats just kept on coming for the Giants, as Thairo Estrada led off the top of the seventh with a scorching double off of Jorge Lopez. Kyle Farmer robbed J.D. Davis of another extra base hit, but Conforto struck again, and he would not be robbed as he lofted a two run homer about two inches beyond the left field wall to put the Giants ahead 4-3.
Live and Let Die
It's not just a catchy 007 lyric, its what Twins Territory was asking about the rest of the summer heading into the bottom of the eighth inning. Therapy sessions were being offered on Twitter, fishing rods were being readied for months of baseball-free evenings, and Twins players were beginning to plan their October vacations. Stop me if you heard this one, but another medium-level left-handed reliever dominated Kyle Garlick, Solano, and Kirilloff.
Buxton, Edouard Julien, and newly called-up Matt Wallner (who had already played a game today) tried to keep hope alive in the ninth. Two strikeouts later, and it was up to Wallner. Matt took one for the team on the right ankle, bringing Castro up as the winning run with two outs.
Fade to black. Castro strikes out swinging, and the Twins find themselves just one game above the .500 mark.
In the third and final game of the series the Twins will send Joe Ryan and his 6-1 record, and 0.89 WHIP to the mound. The Giants will counter with Anthony DeSclafani and his 3-3 record, and 0.99 WHIP. This in when the ace rises to the top of the deck, so can Twins fans count on a win Wednesday?
Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet
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