Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs)
Joe Ryan Does it Again, Well, Not Quite That, but…
Earlier in the week, Twins starter Joe Ryan threw seven no-hit innings against the Kansas City Royals at Target Field. While disappointed, it was easy to understand why he was removed after the seventh inning, and it was said often. His next start would be his biggest start of the season.
Well, that may or may not still be true - based on the Twins losing the first three games of this series, and being seven games back coming into the day - it was a very important game for the Twins. Saturday was a long day that ended in a double-header sweep at the hands of the Guardians. The Twins had lost eight straight games to Cleveland in key September games. The Twins needed a big outing from Ryan, and he gave it to the Twins.
After Saturday, it was important for Ryan to start out well. He had a one-two-three first inning that included a strikeout of Twins Killer Amed Rosario and a Jose Ramirez pop-out. He got two groundouts and a strikeout in the second inning, which does mean that he had nine straight no-hit innings. He walked a guy in the third inning, but no hits again. The fourth inning was again perfect, including a ground out by Rosario and a strikeout of Ramirez. His no-hit streak ended with one out in the bottom of the fifth frame when Tyler Freeman singled. He gave up two more hits and walked two batters, but he even recorded two outs in the eighth inning. After a Myles Straw single, lefty Jovani Moran came on and got Andrew Gimenez to fly out to end the inning and officially close the book on Joe Ryan’s fantastic outing.
Defense Comes Through
Any great pitching performance is likely to include some help from his defense.
In the fifth inning, there were runners on first and second with just one out, but Austin Hedges grounded into a double play.
Then in the sixth inning, Straw led off with a double before Gimenez was hit by a pitch. Runners on first and second and nobody out. Amed Rosario stepped to the plate and grounded into a double play. Straw remained at third with Jose Ramirez to bat. The perennial MVP candidate lined a shot to deep center field, but Gilberto Celestino got a great jump and was able to run it down on a full sprint to the warning track to end the threat and maintain a 1-0 lead.
But that catch always reminds me of another great Celestino catch, and why not show that one again…
Captain Cave… Man!
Jake Cave has had a couple of tough years the last two seasons with the Twins, at least offensively. Prior to that, he was a very solid fourth outfielder, but with the Twins injuries the last couple of seasons, he has been forced into more action than was intended, including a lot of ABs against southpaws. Last year, he missed significant time with a fractured back.
Removed from the 40-man roster in the offseason, Cave spent most of this season at Triple-A St. Paul. He played great, getting on-base pretty much every game. In 85 games, he hit 273/.370/.509 (.879) with 20 doubles, seven triples and 14 home runs. As impressive, he continued to put up numbers as he watched player after player get called up to the Twins before he was. In fact, he was about the eighth outfielder on the depth chart when he was finally called back up. And, since then, more injuries have meant that he’s again played more than was planned.
Now, I’m not here to say that he’s been great. I’m not saying they should bring him back. I’m just saying that he’s filled in admirably and does not deserve the online hate that he often gets.
On Sunday afternoon, he gave the Twins their 1-0 lead in the second inning when he hit a solo homer. It was his fifth homer since joining the Twins and his second big home run in this Cleveland series.
One general observation from watching him play with the Saints and in his return to the Twins is that he is staying down on the ball and doing a much better job driving the ball to the opposite field, as he did today.
He has played solid defense wherever he’s been, and been happy with any opportunities he gets. And no one can ever question his effort.
All Rise for Arraez
Jovani Moran got the final out of the 8th inning to maintain a 1-0 lead for the Twins, but that isn’t exactly a comfortable lead. A little insurance sure would have been nice!
The first two batters in the top of the ninth inning got out, but then Celestino walked. It was followed by a single from Mark Contreras (who had come in an inning earlier as a defensive replacement for Matt Wallner, who had two hits in the game). Nick Gordon then pinch hit for Jermaine Palacios, and he waAll-Starlked to load the bases.
That set the stage for All Star Luis Arraez, and he came through with yet another big hit for the Twins. He lined a solid single up the middle to score two runs and give the Twins a 3-0 lead.
In addition, Carlos Correa continued his red-hot September. With three hits on Sunday, he had his seventh multi-hit game in the month.
Sanchez Helps Duran
Jhoan Duran has been, arguably, the most dominant reliever in baseball for much of the second half, if not all year. Obviously, Cleveland’s Emmanuel Clase is in that conversation as well.
However, on Sunday, he didn’t display the same kind of control and command as we have seen from him throughout the season. He got the leadoff man (Rosario) out, but then he walked Jose Ramirez, and not intentionally. He started Josh Naylor off with a fastball for a ball. At that point, just four of Duran’s 11 pitches were strikes.
Personal opinion and observation… With a 1-0 count, Gary Sanchez called three straight slow(ish) sliders (the upper-80s one that drops more than the other one) and Naylor missed all three for a strikeout. Sanchez continued to call mostly breaking balls and struck out Oscar Gonzalez on the same pitch.
Gary Sanchez is not a good defensive catcher. That’s probably putting it fairly nicely. The difference between Sanchez and Ryan Jeffers is very noticeable both by the eye test and by statistical measures.
However, have to give credit where credit is due, Sanchez deserves credit for having Duran mix it up. With his fastball command lost in this game, Sanchez recognized it and helped Duran by calling another of his pitches, and fortunately that pitch was on. In the end, he threw 17 pitches, so he ended the game with six straight strikes to end the game with two strikeouts.
Following Saturday’s lengthy double-header, the Twins wanted to make sure they had a long-relief option. Dereck Rodriguez was terrific in his 3 2/3 innings in that role in Saturday’s late game. Unfortunately, for him, that meant that he was optioned back to St. Paul.
Ronny Henriquez was set to start on Sunday afternoon for the Saints. Instead, he traveled to Cleveland and was activated shortly before the Twins game started. Veteran Ariel Jurado made the start for the Saints in his place.
Henriquez came to the Twins in the Mitch Garver trade to Texas. He turned 22 years old in mid-June, and has a 3-4 record with a 5.66 ERA with the Saints. The hard-throwing Dominican has made 14 starts and come out of the bullpen ten times. While his overall numbers don’t look great, he has been much better of late. Over his past five outings, he is 1-0 with a save. In 21 innings, he has just four walks to go with 24 strikeouts. He has given up just one or two runs in four of his past five appearances. On September 7th, he gave up two runs on one hit and one walk. In five innings, he struck out nine batters. On September 13th, he came out of the bullpen and recorded a four-inning save. He gave up one run on two hits. He walked none and struck out three. In short, if he doesn’t hurt himself with walks, he can be very effective and has some really sharp, nasty stuff. Texas had already placed him on the 40-man roster, so the Twins didn’t need to make an additional 40-man roster move.
The Twins had hoped to take at least four (if not five) games in this five-game series. On Monday afternoon, they’ll send RHP Sonny Gray (8-4, 2.83 ERA) to the mound and attempt to win a second game in a row, and in the series. The game will start at 12:05 central time and air on Bally Sports North. Cleveland will counter with RHP Cal Quantrill (12-5, 3.51 ERA).
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