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  • Twins 3, Guardians 1: Ryan Pitches Twins to Series Victory, Winning Homestand


    Theo Tollefson

    Twins rookie Joe Ryan took the mound on a beautiful Sunday afternoon to finish out the Twins' longest homestand of the season. Thanks to Ryan’s first 100-pitch start of the season and a couple of solo shots from Gio Urshela and Byron Buxton, the Twins were able to complete a series victory over Cleveland and finish their homestand 5-4.

    Image courtesy of Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

    Box Score
    SP: Joe Ryan 6 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 5 K (103 pitches, 70 strikes (68 strike %))
    Home Runs: Gio Urshela (3),  Byron Buxton (11)
    Top 3 or Bottom 3 WPA: Joe Ryan (.204), Gio Urshela (.119), Byron Buxton (.081)

    1939169240_TwinsWin5-15-22.png.13637873585279e9b6b6300caa06ca39.png

    After a low-scoring game Saturday that was decided by a questionable rule that just won’t go away, the Twins got on the first run on the board against Guardians starter Tristen McKenzie with an RBI single from Max Kepler that scored Luis Arraez. Kepler was able to drive in Arraez because he stole his first base of the season and adding the Twins' season total stolen bases to seven. Clearly a sign of the times.

    The game remained scoreless through the next two innings thanks to Ryan’s pitching. Ryan cruised his way through the Guardians lineup until the top of the fourth when, with one out, Jose Ramirez hit a solo shot to right-center field tying the game 1-1. 

    Even after the Ramirez homer, Ryan remained in control for the remainder of his start. Ryan had his first start with more than 100 pitches this season and kept his strike percentage at 68 percent, totaling five strikeouts. He also only allowed base runners via hits making Sunday his second start without a walk this season. 

    With the game tied going into the bottom of the fourth inning, the Twins found a way to retake the lead thanks to a two-out solo home run from Gio Urshela. An inning later, the Twins' unofficial captain Byron Buxton added to the lead with his 11th home run of the season making it a 3-1 game. 

    Buxton’s home run was called to be the 1,000th home run ever hit at Target Field by the Twins. However, thanks to research from Twins Dingers on Twitter, the home run was corrected to be the 999th home run by a Twin in Target Field’s history. Twins beat writer for MLB.com, Do Hyoung Park retweeted this finding by Twins Dingers to remind everyone the next home run hit by a Twin at Target Field will be the 1,000th. 

    The Twins bullpen kept the Guardians scoreless in the seventh inning thanks to a perfect inning from Cody Stashak who struck out two of three batters faced. In the eighth inning, Joe Smith did allow one base runner, a Richie Palacios single, but Palacios did not score thanks to the relief effort of Smith and Caleb Theilbar. 

    Emilio Pagan was given the ball for the save in the ninth inning and his third consecutive day with a relief appearance. Pagan had thrown 22 pitches Friday but only nine on Saturday making his availability to come into Sunday’s game for the save acceptable to Rocco Baldelli. Pagan completed the save giving up only one hit. He was helped by an outstanding defensive play at third base from Gio Urshela. 

    The win brings the Twins record to 20-15 through their first 35 games this season and extends their lead over the Guardians for first place in the American League Central to three games. 

    What’s Next? 
    The Twins make their first road trip west this season. On Monday night, they begin another three-game series against the Oakland Athletics. Chris Archer is scheduled to go against Athletics 26-year-old lefty rookie Zach Logue. 

    Postgame Interview 

    Bullpen Usage Chart 

      WED THU FRI SAT SUN TOT
                 
    Stashak 0 46 0 0 13 59
    Jax 0 0 50 0 0 50
    Pagán 0 0 22 9 10 41
    Thielbar 0 23 0 15 2 40
    Duffey 0 33 0 5 0 38
    Cano 0 36 0 0 0 36
    Smith 0 0 4 15 9 28
    Duran 0 0 10 12 0 22
    Cotton 0 0 0 17 0 17

     

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    Eventually all the starters should be able to throw 100 pitches if their performance is. good enough to reach 100 pitches.

    Good series win vs a Cleveland club that could well contend for division title.

    Also can Byron Buxton safely play 4 out of 5 games rather than 3 out of 5?

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    It's really wonderful to watch a starting pitcher carry the team into the last three innings. It's the way it's supposed to be for all of us who have grown up with baseball from the '50s and 60s and 70s and 80s and beyond. I, like one of the other posters said, can't we let Buxton play more often. Sitting him on the bench isn't saving him from injury. He's going to get injured at some point no matter how many times he sits on the bench and does nothing. I just fear he'll fall off the bench from boredom and then what do we do. Call up somebody to sit on the bench with his number on?

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    A few observations, along with upcoming roster questions after a WINNING (5-4) homestand:

    1.  Considering how horrible our hitters performed with RISP over the last 9 games (12-65 for a .185 avg), winning this homestand is something to feel good about.

    Winning 3 of those 5 games while scoring 3 or less runs is a credit to our rotation, but namely our improving bullpen.

    2.  Not sure how long the next homestand is, but I will bet that averaging  only 3 runs per game ( 27runs over 9 games), will NOT result in a winning record.

    3.  Maybe something others have mentioned, but IMO, a big reason why this team is sitting in 1st place tonight is due to its defense.  We don't win the game today without those 2 excellent plays by Urshela!  

    Not sure how this compares with other teams, but over this homestand, our defense committed only 5 errors.  Total of only 1 error in sweep vs. OAK and only 2 vs. CLE---both coming in 12-8 win on Friday.

    Moving on with upcoming roster issues:

    1.  As much as I love Miranda and believe he's a big part of our future-----how long can his sub . 120 avg and sub. 400 OPS be ignored?  He needs a re-set at SP.

    2.  When is Larnach expected back from IL?  Would strongly prefer to see him in LF on a daily basis so Gordon can go back to super utility role.

    3.  How much longer does Contreras last on active roster?  He hasn't got really any opportunity to this point.

    4. Is it accurate that Ober is projected to be activated this week?  If so, what happens with Smeltzer? Cotton?  I'd prefer to keep Smeltzer as 2nd LH bullpen option or in long relief role.

    5.  How much longer does mgmt stick with Archer in rotation?  His barely 4+ IP starts are putting much pressure on BP.

     

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    I'll grant Gio Urshela this - He's making a good case to keep him around, even after Correa gets back. Then the question becomes, what to do with Royce Lewis? Can the Twins really send down a player this obviously good, or do they find a place for him, like 1B while Miranda goes across the river for a bit more seasoning? New euphemism...across the river = down to the AAA Saints.

    Maybe Miranda to the Saints, Lewis to 1B is the solution, for now. 

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    Garlick is meeting the team in Oakland. Someone isn’t going to be active (probably Contreras). Correa and Larnach are both on track to be activated in the coming week. Miranda and (gulp) Lewis would be the logical choices. These moves would mean nearly zero depth at first base. If Lewis stays, it would mean Celestino goes. 

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    8 minutes ago, stringer bell said:

    Garlick is meeting the team in Oakland. Someone isn’t going to be active (probably Contreras). Correa and Larnach are both on track to be activated in the coming week. Miranda and (gulp) Lewis would be the logical choices. These moves would mean nearly zero depth at first base. If Lewis stays, it would mean Celestino goes. 

    Thanks for the update as I wasn't aware that Garlick was on verge of being activated. I would agree that Contreras is the likely demotion.  Now, if both Correa and Larnach are activated this week, I agree that Miranda should be demoted, but I'm in the camp of keeping Lewis on active roster. I say this for several reasons, but my main argument is why we have to remain at 14 pitchers? I'd make the argument that having 4 bench players, which may result in Lewis being in that group, is preferential.  Saying that, I'd argue that Lewis' bat, overall speed and solid defense helps this team to WIN games moreso than what Cano, Cotton and even Stashak, bring to the table.

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    51 minutes ago, jimbo92107 said:

    I'll grant Gio Urshela this - He's making a good case to keep him around, even after Correa gets back. Then the question becomes, what to do with Royce Lewis? Can the Twins really send down a player this obviously good, or do they find a place for him, like 1B while Miranda goes across the river for a bit more seasoning? New euphemism...across the river = down to the AAA Saints.

    Maybe Miranda to the Saints, Lewis to 1B is the solution, for now. 

    If our lilliputian 1B Arraez can handle this position (0 career GP played at 1B before this season), then certainly a younger and more agile athlete like Lewis can play there when Correa returns.  Lewis, imo, has earned the opportunity to continue to get regular ABs.  Although its a small sample size, my "eye test" of Lewis indicates his confidence, maturity and talent show he's not only capable, but worthy of staying on the active roster. I know there's a viable argument to him getting more daily ABs leading off at SP, but with the inconsistency of this offense (3 runs scored or less in 20 of 35 games), Lewis' bat is needed now! 

    Where does Lewis play and get regular AB's by staying on active roster?  Option 1- 1B-- which allows Arraez to DH or spell Urshela at 3B. Option 2:  3B- which allows Arraez to play 1B while Lewis can DH or spell Urshela at 3B.  I know those 2 options are similar, but I'm tired of seeing Jeffers or Sanchez in DH role.  I believe Arraez or Lewis are better options.  Option 3:  SS-spelling Correa for a needed day off or allowing Correa to DH. Option 4: DH; already covered, but Lewis' speed and more consistent contact rate offer more upside than the very occasional power that Jeffers or Sanchez offer.

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    What Lewis can do in Oakland will go a long way toward deciding the roster. Line drives > pop ups or lazy fly balls to the outfield. If Royce can stay disciplined and make consistent hard contact through the trips to Oakland and Kansas City, he should still be in the lineup for the next home stand.

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    Lewis will not be playing 1B. We don't want to stop his development on defense. He's got the talent but needs the reps at SS to improve after missing two years. I don't see him in the OF either for the Twins unless he first plays there for the Saints. Can you imagine the uproar if he were to play there and got seriously injured running into the fence because he hasn't played a game there in 3 years. We would have Buxton 2.0 on the injury side. When Correa returns, 3B would be the one option but Urshela would then move to 1B or DH. Since Lewis hasn't played there since 2019, our defense would we be worse as Urshela has played great D there. In the end, do you sacrifice the defensive development of our SS in 2023 and beyond in order to win in 2022 by getting Lewis bat in the Twins lineup and his speed on the bases?

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    I'm fully aware the following comment is "old school," but since I'm old (57) having followed this team since the early 70s, I'm still of the belief that scoring 4+ runs is a recipe for winning baseball.  I'm sure this is true for the vast majority of MLB teams for many years, but for those interested-----the 2022 Twins are 14-1 when scoring 4+ runs.  Yes, 14-1.

    Saying that, turning to the "cup half empty" axiom, the Twins have played 35 games this season-----meaning they've scored 3 runs or less 20 times (57.1% of games played).  Not surprisingly their record in those 20 games is 6-14.

    On the pitching side, I did find it interesting through 35 games-----that when our pitching staff allows 4 runs or less, which has happened in 25 games, the Twins record is 19-6.....760 win %.  (

    My apologies to those younger fans who don't subscribe to such outdated facts.

    Finally, for anyone wondering------at this point in 2021......the Twins record was 12-23.  This after a 5-2 start to the season.  With all the warts and deficiencies of this team to this point, an 8 game improvement (20-15) is significant.

    Only 127 games to go.

    Remain calm. All is well. (at least for today). 

     

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    32 minutes ago, darwin22 said:

    I'm fully aware the following comment is "old school," but since I'm old (57) having followed this team since the early 70s, I'm still of the belief that scoring 4+ runs is a recipe for winning baseball.  I'm sure this is true for the vast majority of MLB teams for many years, but for those interested-----the 2022 Twins are 14-1 when scoring 4+ runs.  Yes, 14-1.

    Saying that, turning to the "cup half empty" axiom, the Twins have played 35 games this season-----meaning they've scored 3 runs or less 20 times (57.1% of games played).  Not surprisingly their record in those 20 games is 6-14.

    On the pitching side, I did find it interesting through 35 games-----that when our pitching staff allows 4 runs or less, which has happened in 25 games, the Twins record is 19-6.....760 win %.  (

    My apologies to those younger fans who don't subscribe to such outdated facts.

    Finally, for anyone wondering------at this point in 2021......the Twins record was 12-23.  This after a 5-2 start to the season.  With all the warts and deficiencies of this team to this point, an 8 game improvement (20-15) is significant.

    Only 127 games to go.

    Remain calm. All is well. (at least for today). 

     

    I'm older than you and have been a Twins fan since the mid-60s. My recipe for winning is to score more than the other team, however you manage it. Some days you'll score a lot of runs and win; some days you won't score many but the pitching was great, so you still win. Winning is what matters to me. I don't care if they win scoring 1 run or 10. Just win. Again, I'm older than you. :) 

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    5 hours ago, darwin22 said:

    A few observations, along with upcoming roster questions after a WINNING (5-4) homestand:

    1.  Considering how horrible our hitters performed with RISP over the last 9 games (12-65 for a .185 avg), winning this homestand is something to feel good about.

    Winning 3 of those 5 games while scoring 3 or less runs is a credit to our rotation, but namely our improving bullpen.

    2.  Not sure how long the next homestand is, but I will bet that averaging  only 3 runs per game ( 27runs over 9 games), will NOT result in a winning record.

    3.  Maybe something others have mentioned, but IMO, a big reason why this team is sitting in 1st place tonight is due to its defense.  We don't win the game today without those 2 excellent plays by Urshela!  

    Not sure how this compares with other teams, but over this homestand, our defense committed only 5 errors.  Total of only 1 error in sweep vs. OAK and only 2 vs. CLE---both coming in 12-8 win on Friday.

    Moving on with upcoming roster issues:

    1.  As much as I love Miranda and believe he's a big part of our future-----how long can his sub . 120 avg and sub. 400 OPS be ignored?  He needs a re-set at SP.

    2.  When is Larnach expected back from IL?  Would strongly prefer to see him in LF on a daily basis so Gordon can go back to super utility role.

    3.  How much longer does Contreras last on active roster?  He hasn't got really any opportunity to this point.

    4. Is it accurate that Ober is projected to be activated this week?  If so, what happens with Smeltzer? Cotton?  I'd prefer to keep Smeltzer as 2nd LH bullpen option or in long relief role.

    5.  How much longer does mgmt stick with Archer in rotation?  His barely 4+ IP starts are putting much pressure on BP.

     

    1. I’m so with you that Miranda needs to be back at AAA. Needs some more time. Not too worried long-term.

    2. Very excited for Larnach to be back. Should be this week. Who would’ve thought Larnach would be better than Kiriloff this pint last season?

    3. Contreras should be optioned this week. Wish he would’ve gotten more of a chance. 
     

    4. When Ober comes back Smeltzer will likely be optioned. 
     

    5. I want Archer out of the rotation when Ober comes back. Winder should hold onto a spot and we’ll see how Bundy fares next time around. I’d rather have Smeltzer than Archer even though I’m not high on Devin. 

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    Good defense and no BBs by the pitching staff are extremely conducive to getting Ws. The Yankees just beat the Pale Hose 5-1 with only 2 hits, but they were the recipients of plenty of walks and wild pitches all in one inning and a two-run bomb later. Throw strikes and play good defense...I think the hitting will improve when we get a few more bodies healthy.

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    Based on the small pitch counts for the Twins relievers, the Indians Guardians must have been swinging early and often in the count.  This was a huge benefit to the Twins, especially with Smith and Pagan pitching three days in a row. 

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    What I liked best about this game is that Ryan bounced back and changed up his pitch selection.  The last two games he was walking guys and I think teams had adjusted to him not chasing pitches out of the zone.  So he pumped fastballs in the zone telling teams he will adjust if they do.  Then once he pumped a ton of fastballs in the zone, he started to mix in off-speed again.  

    I agree with Justin when he said having a starter throw nothing but fastballs for like 20 pitches really messes with a hitters head.  They keep thinking when is something else coming.  It like in a multiple choice test, if each answer is the same letter, eventually you second guess your answer because no way would it always be B or whatever. 

    Baseball is such a head game, and keeping hitters guessing will do that.  I think Joe was trying to get ahead too much with off-speed then pitch the fastball ahead in count, I could be wrong but just feel like that is what he was doing the previous two games. 

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    14 hours ago, darwin22 said:

    Thanks for the update as I wasn't aware that Garlick was on verge of being activated. I would agree that Contreras is the likely demotion.  Now, if both Correa and Larnach are activated this week, I agree that Miranda should be demoted, but I'm in the camp of keeping Lewis on active roster. I say this for several reasons, but my main argument is why we have to remain at 14 pitchers? I'd make the argument that having 4 bench players, which may result in Lewis being in that group, is preferential.  Saying that, I'd argue that Lewis' bat, overall speed and solid defense helps this team to WIN games moreso than what Cano, Cotton and even Stashak, bring to the table.

    Short starts and a well-used bullpen argue to keep the maximum number of pitchers. Of all the factors about Lewis, the one area of concern would be defense. Sticking him at third where he played a bit in the AFL, or in the outfield would be a stretch IMHO. He has aced the audition, but that doesn’t qualify him to be a utility player or supplant Correa  

     

     

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