Starting Pitcher: Ryan 6.0 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 7 SO (101 pitches, 70 strikes)
Homeruns: Arraez (4)
Bottom 3 WPA: Urshela -.273, Pagan -.269, Miranda -.233
Bottom Probability Chart (via FanGraphs)
On Tuesday night, the Twins began their most important series of the season so far. Entering the opening game of athree-gamee series against Cleveland, the Guardians had trimmed Minnesota’s AL Central lead to just one game. Here’s how the Twins lined up behind Joe Ryan.
In his second start back from the COVID IL, Joe Ryan struggled early. His velocity was down, and his control and command were extremely poor through his first three innings.
Cleveland took the lead after Ryan surrendered two singles and a double in the top of the first inning. Meanwhile, the Twins struggled mightily early against Aaron Civale. They managed just a Carlos Correa double and an Alex Kirilloff single through three innings, with Civale striking out five.
A massive Josh Naylor home run deep to right field put the Guardians up 3-0 in the top of the third in a game that seemed to be getting away from the Twins early. In the bottom of the fourth, the offense found life. Max Kepler singled and Gary Sanchez walked, before Kirilloff launched a 106 mph double to score both runners and cut the lead to 3-2.
Meanwhile, Ryan began to settle in the middle innings. He allowed a walk and a single in the top of the fourth inning, before retiring seven Cleveland hitters in a row, striking out the side in the sixth inning. After a shaky start, Ryan rebounded nicely to keep the Twins in the game, giving them six innings and surpassing 100 pitches in the process.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, the Cleveland bullpen took over. After a quiet sixth inning, pinch-hitter Trevor Larnach drew a walk with one out in the top of the seventh. Eli Morgan took over in relief for Cleveland. Ryan Jeffers crushed a 102 mph double down the left field line. A batter later, Luis Arraez turned on a fastball inside to hit a 359 foot, three run home run to put the Twins ahead five to three.
Emilio Pagan took over in the eighth inning. After a Josh Naylor single, Franmil Reyes hit a center cut offering from Pagan 419 feet to tie the game at five. The Twins, it seems, will continue the revolving door of who will get high leverage opportunities behind Jhoan Duran. No one has stepped up with consistency.
Duran pitched a scoreless ninth inning despite an infield single from Steven Kwan on a groundball Gio Urshela struggled to gain control of. In the bottom of the ninth, Kyle Garlick led off with a pinch-hit, infield single. Nick Gordon pinch ran for him and was thrown out on a close play at second base, bringing him to 3 for 6 in stolen base attempts on the season. Despite a Ryan Jeffers single, the game headed to extra innings after a Luis Arraez groundout.
Duran got the tenth for the Twins. With a runner on second base, he induced a quick groundout from Jose Ramirez. After intentionally walking Josh Naylor, Duran managed to get Oscar Gonzalez to ground into an inning ending double play to end the inning and give the Twins a chance to walk it off in the bottom of the tenth inning.
In the bottom of the tenth, Luis Arraez started on second base, with Byron Buxton at the plate. Buxton walked, putting runners at first and second base with no outs. Carlos Correa, Max Kepler, and Gary Sanchez struck out in consecutive at bats, stranding the runner, keeping the game tied at five, and dropping the Twins at 2-10 with RISP in the game.
The Guardians took the lead in the eleventh. Andres Gimenez floating a 71 mph single to center field off Griffin Jax to retake the lead. Jax worked around further trouble to retire the side, leaving the Twins trailing 6-5, with Emmanuel Clase entering the game to close in the bottom of the eleventh inning. Clase managed the inning with relative ease, despite Jose Miranda missing a walkoff homerun by five feet. Just like that, the Twins are in second place.
The loss leaves the Twins and Guardians tied at the top of the AL Central. The story was a familiar one for the Twins. They had ample opportunities to score more runs, but struggled to cash runners in scoring position. Ultimately, this game came down to a battle of the bullpens. The Twins aren't going to win too many of those against serious teams.
Bullpen Usage Chart