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  • Twins 11, Guardians 1: Gray Throws Seven Scoreless as Twins Crush Guardians in First of Five


    Theo Tollefson

    The Twins opened up with the first of five games in four days Monday night against the Guardians. Sonny Gray made his ninth start of the season dominating through seven innings as the Twins bats awoke for the first of five straight games in Cleveland.

    Image courtesy of David Richard, USA Today

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    Box Score
    SP: Sonny Gray 7 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 K (97 pitches, 64 strikes (66 strike %))
    Home Runs: Gary Sanchez (9), Nick Gordon (3), Carlos Correa (8)
    Top 3 or Bottom 3 WPA: Gary Sanchez .199, Sonny Gray .198, Gio Urshela .167

    Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs)

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    The first inning was a quiet affair at the plate for both teams. That changed in the top of the second as Alex Kirilloff and Gio Urshela reached base on a hit-by-pitch and double, respectively. Then Gary Sanchez came to the plate and on a 1-0 count saw a fastball right down the middle of the plate from Triston McKenzie and took it to deep left field for a three-run homer giving the Twins the first lead of the game. 

    As the Twins moved into the bottom halves of the second and third, Sonny Gray kept the game scoreless allowing only one base runner on a single by Josh Naylor. Come time for the top of the fourth, the Twins were back at it again with the hits.

    Kirilloff reached base once again, this time on a single, and Urshela continued to be a doubles machine in his second at-bat getting an RBI double that scored Kirllioff to make it a 4-0 Twins lead. The following at-bat by Gary Sanchez brought another run home with Urshela scoring on an RBI single to make it 5-0 Twins over Cleveland.

    In the bottom of the fourth, Gray once again allowed the leadoff man Amed Rosario to reach, making it three of four innings where the leadoff man reached on a single off Gray. Still Gray escaped the hiccup retiring the next three batters and keeping the score at 5-0. Both McKenzie and Gray retired the minimum in the fifth inning keeping the game score at 5-0. 

    Kirilloff kept up the hitting game again in the top of the sixth with a leadoff single. He wanted to extend that hit into a double but slid in too late and was thrown out by Steven Kwan from left field. Sanchez followed up Kirilloff two at-bats later by being the other Twin to reach base at least three times in the game. The next pitch was the first for Nick Gordon’s third at-bat and Nick Gordon pulled it to right field for a two-run home run to make the Twins lead 7-0.

    Gray continued his domination in the bottom of the sixth retiring the minimum for the third time in the game. Even more impressive was Gray’s total pitch count being only at 77 through six in his third start since returning from the IL.

    The offense gave Gray even more run support in the top of the seventh inning as Luis Arraez led off, drawing his second walk of the game. Two at-bats later, Carlos Correa delivered more runs on another two-run shot to put the Twins up further 9-0. 

    Kirilloff got another chance to make up for his running game in his next at-bat in the top of the seventh. This time, Kwan had trouble reading the ball landing in left field from Kirilloff and he reached second safely to give himself a three-hit game and reached base in every plate appearance of the game to that point. 

    The bottom of the seventh started off with a ten-pitch at-bat by Jose Ramirez against Gray that ended in a walk. The following at-bat made up for the walk as the Twins recorded a 3-5-1 double play against Naylor. Gray retired the final batter of the inning and Spongbob fan Oscar Gonzalez on a live drive to Correa, marking the end of Gray’s stellar start with seven innings of shutout baseball on 97 pitches. 

    The eighth inning did not have much going for either team and as the game entered the top of the ninth inning, the Guardians forfeited their designated hitter by putting in Ernie Clement in the game for Jose Ramirez. Clement was on the mound in the ninth and the Guardians starting designated hitter, Owen Miller, was moved over to third. 

    The top of the ninth did bring another first of the season as Mark Contreras came off the bench in place of Correa, hit against the shift and earned his first major league hit. 

    Kirilloff was retired in the top of the ninth but got a sacrifice that scored Gilberto Celestino changing the score to 10-0. The next at-bat saw Urshela get his third hit and third RBI of the game scoring Contreras for his first big league run scored and making it an 11-0. Sanchez ended the inning on a double play, but the Twins walked away happy with a couple more insurance runs. 

    Jharel Cotton, who had already pitched in the eighth, continued for the Twins in the ninth to close out the game. Cotton struggled with the first two batters giving up a single and a walk. He retired the next two batters but a wild pitch to Naylor allowed Myles Straw to score, but Cotton fixed that error by retiring Naylor on the very next pitch. 

    What’s Next? 
    The Twins have their second double header of the season on Tuesday with the first game against the Guardians starting at 12:10 p.m. CT and the second 6:10 p.m. CT. Game one will be started by Devin Smeltzer against Zach Plesac and game two Josh Winder will face off against Konnor Pilkington for the Guardians. 

    Postgame Interview 
    Coming soon.

    Bullpen Usage
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    I was concerned about how the pitchers would react to Wes Johnson's leaving. Although Gray struke out only 3 batters, he dominated. I believe that each pitcher will pitch his best to send off Wes with a bang. The middle of the order carried the team last night, this team has set the tone for this series. I previous predicted for the Twins to take 3 out of 5 now I think the Twins could sweep CLE.

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    Very nice complete victory.  Gray did great job of saving bullpen!!  It will be interesting to see how twins perform and who's playing and not playing for today's doubleheader.  One of the most unpredictable twins teams in recent memory.  Never quite sure what team is going to show up.  I hope we sweep today.  Go Twins

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    9 hours ago, ashbury said:

    This has been as Jekyll-and-Hyde as any Twins squad I can remember.  I'm enjoying the good Doctor while he is gracing us with his presence. I fear the Fiend's return, though.

    My thoughts exactly.  Call me glass half empty but after the opening 11-1 win it feels like this team will get shutout with the bats going quiet the next few games.  They really have a hard time staying consistent pitching or hitting and yet here they are 3 up in first place.  I should probably just enjoy where the team is at but the baseball gods give and they take away.  They gave a lot yesterday the take away can't be far behind.

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    I have a lot of confidence in Sonny Gray pitching. The only issue with him is whether you can keep him healthy to pitch a full season. He's been a very good pitcher pretty much his entire career (excepting for a season in Oak where he was dealing with injuries and was a bit unlucky and a season in NY where he was unlucky and having to play in NY). I think the Twins got exactly what they needed in him and this start against Cle was exactly the kind of start we were hoping for from him.

    Offense came out big and it's really nice to see the bottom part of the order carry the load. I know how crazy it makes me when one of our pitchers can get the 7-8 hitters out and it starts a rally so hopefully we inflicted the same pain on Cle. And it's nice to see Sanchez have a big game like this and hopefully he gets on a bit of a roll. Urshela has been very good all year on defense and every time I think his offense might be going to hell he comes through with a big hit or a multi-hit game it seems. We've seemed to be a bit top-heavy on the lineup this season, with Arraez, Buxton, and Correa needing to carry the team often. Hopefully this is a sign that the bottom half of the lineup is getting ready to share more of the load and help gain more blowouts.

    Let's keep it rolling! Cle is scuffling right now, let's make it worse on them!

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    36 minutes ago, Dman said:

    I should probably just enjoy where the team is at but the baseball gods give and they take away.  They gave a lot yesterday the take away can't be far behind.

    Well, even a split of the remaining 4 games in this series is acceptable. But I'm greedy, and 3 of 4 (and a 5 game lead) would be better. And Baltimore is on deck. Anyone notice that the Orioles have been playing really well lately? 

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    Nice comfortable win for the Twins. Now, I'm wondering about the lineups for the rest of the series, but particularly for the day/night doubleheader today. Sanchez and Jeffers will each catch a game--I presume Sanchez catches the day game. Buxton certainly won't play center for both games--DH in one and CF in the other? Correa might get a game off or DH in one, I would expect every position player to start one of the games. Sounds like a lot of lineup hash to me.

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    1 hour ago, stringer bell said:

    Nice comfortable win for the Twins. Now, I'm wondering about the lineups for the rest of the series, but particularly for the day/night doubleheader today. Sanchez and Jeffers will each catch a game--I presume Sanchez catches the day game. Buxton certainly won't play center for both games--DH in one and CF in the other? Correa might get a game off or DH in one, I would expect every position player to start one of the games. Sounds like a lot of lineup hash to me.

    First game lineup for the Twins is up in the game preview.

    2B - Arraez

    SS - Correa

    RF - Kepler

    DH - Garlick

    1B - Kirilloff

    C - Sanchez

    LF - Gordon

    CF - Celestino

    So I would guess Buxton gets center in game 2, Urshela obviously gets 3rd and Jeffers obviously catches, maybe Contreras will get a start in left.

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    Kirilloff is finally playing like the young hitter we have expected for so long.  Everything he hits appears to be hit hard.  Cannot be happier for this young man.  When they get a healthy Larnach back, likely 2023, and a more experienced Miranda, this lineup is gonna be good...really good.  Still gonna have to figure out how to keep Arraez in the lineup 150 games a year, but that should be workable.

    Unfortunately, as these young hitters finally begin filling out their lineup all the promising young arms again appear to be bogged down on the injured list.  None, other than Winder and Duran, are getting the experience they would need this year to count on come 2023.  Fortunately, they have one more year of Gray and Maeda should be back and healthy next year.  Add that pair to Ryan, Ober and Winder and they should have a solid starting 5.  Now where will the depth come from?

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