SP: Sonny Gray 4 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4 K (55 pitches, 33 strikes (60%))
Home Runs: None
Top 3 WPA: Willi Castro (.11), Sonny Gray (.08), Louie Varland (.03)
Bottom 3 WPA: Ryan Jeffers (-.019), Michael A. Taylor (-.08), Donovan Solano (-.06)
Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs)
A Different Look to the Pitching
Sonny Gray started his appearance, allowing a few hits, but ultimately had a scoreless inning to start the game. It was a nice outing and a short one for his final regular-season start. Gray only pitched four innings to bring in Kenta Maeda, as the Twins are moving around some of the pitching for the postseason and seeing how pitchers perform in different roles and situations.
Maeda came in in the fifth inning as a reliever, but it's not new for him. Maeda pitched in relief with the Dodgers; he had 20 appearances with Los Angeles out of the bullpen (22 innings), only giving up three runs over those games.
Maeda did well in his first inning in the relief spot with a 1-2-3 inning. Still, Maeda's second inning looked a little less like the first, drawing two walks and struggling a bit to get out of the top of the sixth, but he returned for the seventh, throwing 50 pitches in his three innings, but did so with no runs added to the board.
A Battle of the Bats
The Athletics strung together some singles and sacrifices to get on the board first in the top of the second inning, but Gray kept the score at one run during his appearance. Gray silenced the A's, but the Twins offense struggled to get things going.
Today's Twins offensive lineup was full of rookies, sprinkled in with a few veterans and acquisitions. It was one of the season's more unique and fun lineups and indicative of the roster's depth heading into the postseason. Many 'regular' players could rest to prepare for the postseason.
The Athletic pitcher Luis Medina and the defense, specifically former Twin Brent Rooker in right field, kept the Twins from getting on the board. Kyle Farmer was the only player with a hit through five innings, but the Twins stayed scoreless through six innings.
Castro got a base hit off his bunt for the Twins' second hit of the game, just for Donovan Solano to come in and hit a liner to left to advance Castro and land on first. With no outs on the board and two on, Alex Kirilloff was hit-by-pitch to load the bases for Wallner, who hit into a double play to bring Castro home to tie up the game.
A Little Late Excitement
With the game tied up in the sixth, the Twins kept the seventh inning interesting, battling with Athletics pitcher Lucas Erceg. The Twins worked back and loaded up the bases for Solano with two outs and two on base. Solano battled by making the Oakland reliever throw twelve pitches but ultimately struck out to end the inning.
With the game tied and potential for a sweep, the Twins brought Maeda back out but was retired quickly after giving up a solo home run to Ryan Noda. Louie Varland, another starter turned reliever, came out to replace Maeda and finished the inning and a repeat performance in the ninth with no more damage. Varland struck out three in his 1 2/3 innings of relief.
The A's called on old friend Trevor May to hold on to the 2-1 lead. May effectively shut his former team down to end the game and the series.
The Twins head to Colorado to finish their regular season, leaving behind some of the "A" team players from the roster to rest and prepare for the postseason push.
Friday 7:10 pm CDT: RHP Joe Ryan (11-10, 4.31 ERA) vs. LHP Ty Blach (3-3, 5.42 ERA)
Saturday 6:10 pm CDT: RHP Pablo Lopez (10-7, 3.43 ERA) vs. RHP Karl Kauffmann (2-4, 7.04 ERA)
Sunday 1:10 pm CDT: RHP Bailey Ober (8-6, 3.53 ERA) vs. RHP Chase Anderson (1-6, 5.42 ERA)
Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet