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  • Twins 4, A's 3: Bullpen Completes Sweep of Oakland


    Seth Stohs

    Chris Paddack had a short start, but the Twins bullpen continued to be incredible. They threw six zeroes on the board to close out the win on Sunday. Jorge Polanco had the big hit in the third inning. The Twins won their ninth straight game at Target Field. The A's lost their ninth straight game. 

    Image courtesy of Bruce Kluckhohn, USA TODAY Sports

    Twins Video

     

    Box Score
    SP: Chris Paddack: 2 1/3 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 4 K (55 pitches, 41 strikes (74.5%)
    Home Runs: None
    Top 3 WPA: Emilio Pagan (0.150), Jorge Polanco (0.146), Gilberto Celestino (0.124)

    Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs)

    image.png

    Pregame Notes
    Injuries and ‘day-to-day’ nagging injuries are adding up, and that continued on Sunday. In the morning, the team announced that outfielder Trevor Larnach was being placed on the Injured List with a right adductor strain. To take his place, the Twins recalled catcher Jose Godoy

    In 22 games this year, Larnach has hit .313/.365/.448 (.813) with nine doubles. He has been hitting most everything hard. Hopefully it’s just a 10-day injury and he can get back into the lineup shortly. 

    It’s also fair to ask why Godoy would be brought up? Sure. However, he is the only hitter on the 40-man roster, and it would make no sense to take someone off the 40-man roster, add someone else, when it's likely a couple of hitters will be playing again on Tuesday.

    Paddack Leaves with Injury 
    Chris Paddack started the game strong. He struck out the first two batters, but after a couple of soft singles, Chad Pinder lined a single that gave the A’s a 1-0 lead. In the second inning, he had a strikeout, a weak line out, and a ground out. He started the third inning with a strikeout as well. But after Sheldon Neuse hit a single and Sean Murphy doubled, trainer Michael Salazar was summoned to the mound. After a couple of questions, Paddack was removed from the game without even attempting a practice throw off the mound.

    With two runners on, Cody Stashak came into the game. He gave up a single that scored both inherited runners before getting out of the inning. 

    Obviously, we can hope for the best. Paddack has looked really good so far this season. On Sunday, he was sitting 93-95 mph and had a pitch hit 95.8 mph. His breaking ball has been much improved and his changeup remains a really good pitch. 

    In the middle innings, we learned that he was removed from the game with “right elbow inflammation.” That’s pretty vague, and with his history of elbow issues, they will certainly continue to evaluate and do all the needed imaging. 

    Twins starting pitching has been good to this point in the season, much better than expected. They really have had seven starting pitchers on their roster. Sonny Gray just returned from a hamstring injury. Bailey Ober is on the IL with a groin injury. Dylan Bundy is on the Covid-IL. The Twins have good starting pitching depth, but that’s only true until it isn’t. 

    Get ‘em Back
    The best way to respond after a tough top of the third inning, not only falling behind 3-1 but also losing their starting pitcher is to put up some runs. 

    The Twins did just that in the bottom of the third inning. With runners on first and third and one out, Jose Miranda doubled down the left-field line to score one run. Then came Jorge Polanco, and he dropped a 72.5 mph single in front of the left fielder. Miranda read it well and scored from second to give the Twins a 4-3 lead. Polanco now has a nine-game hitting streak.  

    Celebrating Celestino
    A year ago, Gilberto Celestino had barely played above Low-A ball when the Twins were desperate in the outfield and called him up because he was on the 40-man roster.  

    Celestino had ended the 2019 season with eight games in High-A Ft. Myers. He missed the entire 2020 season, though he was at the alternate site. Then he began the 2021 season with 21 games at Double-A Wichita before being called up. No surprise that he struggled. In 23 games last year with the Twins, he hit just .136/.177/.288 (.466). 

    He was set to begin the 2022 season in St. Paul, but he ended up on the Opening Day roster, playing little. He was sent to the Saints, but after just two games, he was needed at Target Field again. And he has been a major contributor. On Sunday, he had three more hits and ended the day hitting .324/.390/.405 (.796) with three doubles. He has at least one hit in eight of his past nine games. Over that time, he is 11-for-27 (.407). 

    With the Twins being cautious with Byron Buxton, Celestino has been given opportunities in center field, and he has done well out there too. 

    Bullpen Big Again 
    While Stashak allowed his inherited runners to score, he was very good. He gave up just one hit over 2 2/3 innings. Caleb Thielbar came in for the sixth inning. He walked the leadoff batter but then struck out the next three hitters. Joe Smith faced three batters in a scoreless seventh frame. Tyler Duffey needed nine pitches to close out the eighth inning. And, Emilio Pagan came in for the ninth inning. Of course, runners got to second and third, but he did not allow a run and recorded the save. 

    When you sweep a series by scores of 2-1, 1-0, and 4-3, the bullpen has to perform under stress, and they have certainly done that! 

    The Defense of Lewis
    Royce Lewis made all the plays this weekend at shortstop. On Sunday, he made a play early in the game, deep in the hole, and threw a perfect, one-hop throw across the diamond to Alex Kirilloff for an out. It's such a smart play, and one we have seen Carlos Correa make a couple of times already this season. In the eighth inning, the leadoff batter hit a slow roller toward short. Lewis charged, bare-handed it, and uncoiled a perfect throw to first for a big out. 

    From what we have seen, both this weekend and in the first month at St. Paul, Royce Lewis can play shortstop in the big leagues. He won't always be perfect. There will be errors, but it's good to know that he can stick there. 

    Lewis had one hit in all three games this weekend. He went 3-for-10 (.300). 

    Do you know when the last time that a Twins' hitter had a hit in each of his first three games? In May of 2019, Luis Arraez did it. 

    What’s Next? 
    The Twins will enjoy a day off at home on Monday. The Twins have been playing well, but the aches and pains are catching up so a day off is really needed. On Tuesday, the Astros will come to town for a three-game series. 

    Tuesday: Joe Ryan (3-1, 1.63 ERA) vs TBA
    Wednesday: Chris Archer (0-0, 3.26 ERA) vs TBA
    Thursday: Josh Winder (2-0, 1.61 ERA) vs TBA  

    Postgame Interviews

    Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet

      WED THU FRI SAT SUN TOT
                 
    Pagán 0 0 28 0 28 56
    Coulombe 26 0 0 12 0 38
    Thielbar 0 18 0 0 20 38
    Jax 0 15 0 19 0 34
    Stashak 0 0 0 0 34 34
    Duran 0 0 0 31 0 31
    Duffey 0 0 11 0 9 20
    Smith 0 0 6 0 12 18
     

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    I've been impressed by Lewis' defense as well.  I don't see any reason that he can't stick there.  

    Celestino has also held his own very well.  He's learned from that early big league experience and we're seeing the benefits of that now.

    Hopefully Paddack's injury isn't too bad and just requires some rest.  

    Kind of a brutal series, but they came out with a sweep.  It definitely wasn't pretty, but I'll take it.

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    This A's team reminds me of Charlie Finley's A's teams from 1977 and 1978, after Jackson, Bando, Campaneris, Hunter, etc. had all left with the dawn of free agency. We used to go and watch the Twins play them in Oakland from time to time.

    They were brutal (but still managed to beat the Twins a few times when we went). Think about what would happen if the entire Twins team left all at once and the whole team was promoted from the minor leagues. That's what those teams were like.

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    In the beginning of the year there were a lot of question marks. one of the biggest was was who would adquately sub Buxton? There was no doubt about Celestino's glove, there was only doubt about his bat and wether he could get his bat going in the MLB instead of doing it in AAA. He has answered that question. 

    2nd was how fast or if Lewis could play SS in the MLB? Not playing for 2yrs. and after only playing AA. He has marveled all of us in answering that question, with all those challenges and only being 20yrs old.

    Winder and Duran has answered other question marks, while having a new question on who will be the next closers? Hopefully that will soon be answered.

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    I had to be a wet blanket on the pitching performances this week, but the A’s line-up is really bad.  I would say worst in the mlb. Is there anyone in the As line-up, other than Murphy b/c of his defense, that would play for the Twins right now.  I wouldn’t want any of the A’s starters, outside Murphy, even with all the Twins injuries. I guess Larauno, but he wasn’t hitting at AAA.  It has the 2012-2014 twins vibe.  A lot of Chris Parmalee and Alexi Castilla types.   But the twins did what they were supposed to do and beat an inferior team.  They did it hurt and short handed nonetheless,

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    I am delighted with Celestino and have liked him since his premature call up, but I am not excited about Pagan as our closer.  I know - on another site I was told we do not have a designated closer, but when do we bring in Pagan?  So far Pagan has the most saves on the team and he has the most games finished.  I am never comfortable with RP stats and this is one of those ocassions.

    I loved the victory,  But as I look at the teams we have beaten - The A's are nothing to brag about - the statistics that the broadcasters shared are horrible and they are 10 - 18.  True we beat the Rays in a series and they are 18 - 10, but then we have beaten Detroit 8 - 19, Split with Baltimore 10 - 17, lost to KC 9 - `15, beat Boston which felt good but they are 10 - 19, split with the Mariners 12 - 16 and were destroyed by the Dodgers 18 - 7. and beat the White Sox who so far are 14 - 13 and just coming on.  

    Our opponents have a a record of 109 - 134 (045) (without the Dodgers 91 - 127 .042).  Let's hope our injuries do not set us back.  Although after the Astros the rest of May is A's, Tigers, Guardians, and Royals.  Nice schedule. 

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    25 minutes ago, The Mad King said:

     

    I would say his play in right has been solid. There was a fly ball Friday night that I believe should have been caught. Celestino has hit much better than anticipated and his OF play has been much better too. I wouldn't mind him staying in LF if he keeps it going. Subbing for Buxton on his off days. DH Larnach and have him in left on days Celestino is in CF upon Larnachs return. Miranda and or  Lewis could possibly stay as I believe Kirilloff just won't be able to go every day and Urshela has been struggling. JMO 

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    Baseball is a crazy game.  Who would of thought at the start of the season that the Twins pitching would be dominating and the offense a little hit and miss?  Let's just hope that the pitching stays consistent and Buxton, Correa, and Larnach come back quickly and the offense begins to rake.  Boy, hate to hear the news on Paddack.  Hopefully, it will turn out better than we anticipate and will not lead to significant elbow issues.  

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    Really enjoyed today’s game, Seth.  But when will the injuries stop, even for a week or two?  I saw that Arraez is on the 10 day IL, is there something else wrong besides COVID?

    Cannot be happier with our first look at Miranda and Lewis.  Is likely best for both to go back to the Saints in the next week or so to build on this experience so when they come back it is for good.  Do you think the Twins are assuming that until they hear different, Correa will be gone at the end of the year?  If not, wouldn’t they be getting Lewis some games at third or the outfield?

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    16 minutes ago, mikelink45 said:

    I am delighted with Celestino and have liked him since his premature call up, but I am not excited about Pagan as our closer.  I know - on another site I was told we do not have a designated closer, but when do we bring in Pagan?  So far Pagan has the most saves on the team and he has the most games finished.  I am never comfortable with RP stats and this is one of those ocassions.

    I loved the victory,  But as I look at the teams we have beaten - The A's are nothing to brag about - the statistics that the broadcasters shared are horrible and they are 10 - 18.  True we beat the Rays in a series and they are 18 - 10, but then we have beaten Detroit 8 - 19, Split with Baltimore 10 - 17, lost to KC 9 - `15, beat Boston which felt good but they are 10 - 19, split with the Mariners 12 - 16 and were destroyed by the Dodgers 18 - 7. and beat the White Sox who so far are 14 - 13 and just coming on.  

    Our opponents have a a record of 109 - 134 (045) (without the Dodgers 91 - 127 .042).  Let's hope our injuries do not set us back.  Although after the Astros the rest of May is A's, Tigers, Guardians, and Royals.  Nice schedule. 

    There's another way to look at it. The Tigers were near .500 when they played as was Boston and KC. and Cleveland. Tampa was over .500. Only Baltimore was way below .500 when they played. And if you read MLB's team rankings all except Baltimore were ranked ahead of Minnesota 

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    13 minutes ago, Schmoeman5 said:

    There's another way to look at it. The Tigers were near .500 when they played as was Boston and KC. and Cleveland. Tampa was over .500. Only Baltimore was way below .500 when they played. And if you read MLB's team rankings all except Baltimore were ranked ahead of Minnesota 

    And so far, the only teams who were ranked lower than the Twins when they played has been Baltimore and Oakland. According to MLB pipeline 1-30 weekly rankings. Yes I believe the schedule has been weak. And they did stumble vs the Orioles the final 2 games. But last years team would be 11-18 instead of 18-11

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    I'm maybe more impressed with this W than any of the others so far. Buxton, Correa, Arraez out, Paddack injured early, A's take an early lead and they just fought back and then held the line. I'm not convinced we're going to end up ahead of Chicago when all is said and done, but I love the fight in this young team. They are forcing wins to happen. They are building a culture of winning. That has been my dream for this club for awhile.

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    37 minutes ago, Schmoeman5 said:

    And so far, the only teams who were ranked lower than the Twins when they played has been Baltimore and Oakland. According to MLB pipeline 1-30 weekly rankings. Yes I believe the schedule has been weak. And they did stumble vs the Orioles the final 2 games. But last years team would be 11-18 instead of 18-11

    What should we expect?  Even the best teams lose to poor teams at some point during the season.  If we take the Dodgers out of the equation (since it is clear that they are an elite team right now), the Twins are 18-8 against mostly mediocre to poor teams.  That is a 0.692 win percentage.  If the Twins can take seven out of ten from every poor to mediocre team they will face the rest of the way, we probably should start selling tickets for October. 

    I have been impressed that this team has kept finding ways to win.  At the beginning of the season, I would have said that everything needs to go perfectly and they needs some luck on top of that to maybe compete for the postseason.  While the Twins have had some luck go their way, things have definitely not gone according to plan.  I am happy to celebrate that a month into the season the Twins are three games up in a very winnable division and seem to be in the driver's seat right now.  I look forward to some head-to-head games with Cleveland and Chicago later this season.

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    2 hours ago, wabene said:

    Royce looks like a shortstop to me, the full package really. Getting to hang out with Correa, we couldn't ask for much more.

    Completely agree. I'm sure he'll have some rookie bumps, but his ability to step into the SS role for a first-place team (filling the shoes of a possible HOFer, no less) right after returning to pro ball is a testament to his talent and character. Lewis is the definition of a winner.

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    2 hours ago, Doctor Gast said:

    In the beginning of the year there were a lot of question marks. one of the biggest was was who would adquately sub Buxton? There was no doubt about Celestino's glove, there was only doubt about his bat and wether he could get his bat going in the MLB instead of doing it in AAA. He has answered that question. 

    2nd was how fast or if Lewis could play SS in the MLB? Not playing for 2yrs. and after only playing AA. He has marveled all of us in answering that question, with all those challenges and only being 20yrs old.

    Winder and Duran has answered other question marks, while having a new question on who will be the next closers? Hopefully that will soon be answered.

    Not to be nitpicky, but Royce Lewis isn't 20. He's 22, turning 23 in June.

     

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    Great 2-strike at bat by Miranda in the third.  Gritty plate coverage, ripshot down the line.  Big league at bat.  Helped put the Twins on top for good.

    7-4 Twins = 3-0 Twins ???  I can’t recall watching a team win three straight one-run games.  But a W is a W is a W and even better for the Twwwins.

    Lewis strikes me as fair in the field.  Good natural talent, but needs more polish.  He also looks a little stocky to be an electric fielder at the position.  His feet don’t spark like Correa’s.

    If I was a mother, the bullpen today was the perfect gift.  Roses, chocolate, and baby blues gold.  Happy Mothers Day!

    Go Twins.

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    1 hour ago, Schmoeman5 said:

    There's another way to look at it. The Tigers were near .500 when they played as was Boston and KC. and Cleveland. Tampa was over .500. Only Baltimore was way below .500 when they played. And if you read MLB's team rankings all except Baltimore were ranked ahead of Minnesota 

    I am not against being happy with where we are, but I want perspective and we have a lot of season left.  

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    In the morning, the team announced that outfielder Trevor Larnach was being placed on the Injured List with a right adductor strain. To take his place, the Twins recalled catcher Jose Godoy...

    It’s also fair to ask why Godoy would be brought up? Sure. However, he is the only hitter on the 40-man roster...

    It's also worth noting that, while Gary Sánchez' defense still may regress, his ability to stick at catcher and the Twins' willingness to work with him there make this roster move make more sense. Obviously it's not a seamless change, and they'd rather have Larnach's bat than Godoy's glove - but Sánchez being at least theoretically playable both at DH (though he hasn't hit well so far) and as a part-time catcher allows this move, subbing a catcher for a corner OF/DH,  to work more smoothly.

    Also just want to point out that that video clip of Polanco's hit just captures the Oakland left fielder getting so caught by the force of his running throw that he helicoptered his entire body into the air.

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    1 hour ago, Possumlad said:

    Not to be nitpicky, but Royce Lewis isn't 20. He's 22, turning 23 in June.

     

    Thank you for that correction, I shot that from the top of my head

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    I don't care if Smeltzer isn't on the 40 man we need him on the active list. He has pitched well enough to be selected and we need him if not in the rotation therefore in long relief. Using 4 short RPs every game is going burn them out again (seems like almost every year they do it).

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    3 hours ago, The Mad King said:

    Hats off to Celestino. I was not a fan but he's winning me over. He belongs. And can we admit that Kepler's defence in right has been great?

    Celestino was called up after just a month at AA last year. He wasn't nearly ready, and he only got at bats like every 3rd or 4th day when he was up last year. It was not a good way for a 22 year old to learn to adjust to MLB pitching.

    You have to consider the context before making judgements on the young guys. He actually adjusted incredibly quickly considering his situation. I think they planned for him to still be getting seasoning in AAA this season too but at this point he's become a necessity for the roster and he doesn't seem to have any need for AAA either.  I think he's here to stay unless they somehow really need a roster spot, which doesn't seem likely anytime soon.

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    The only thing that really matters, in the end, is winning the games. Whether it is by luck, gift, skill, or blowout. It doesn't really matter. Winning  games is the goal. I still worry plenty about the pen, and the rotation, and will take the luck. I hope it continues. They will need it. This one would have looked a lot different if the bats hadn't bailed out Stashak. Only one hit for his outing, but it was to the batter he absolutely was brought in to take care of. Paddack says thanks. Good to see Thielbar's ERA is all the way down to 9 and to single digits again. Lewis is impressive. And I lived to see it. Lots of good things happening for this team amongst the annoying injuries, and the B team won 3 one run games.

    This team, like most of the others, has seen plenty of adversity so far with the injuries and COVID and opposing pitchers hitting batters, and still winning. May we weather the storm, and keep winning. 

    I wonder..... do the fans BOO the Astros as usual? Are they forgiven now that Correa is on our team? Does Correa boo them now? Kind of a ironic circumstance coming up.

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    3 hours ago, mikelink45 said:

     I know - on another site I was told we do not have a designated closer, but when do we bring in Pagan?  So far Pagan has the most saves on the team and he has the most games finished.  I am never comfortable with RP stats and this is one of those ocassions.

     

    You don't like back to back 28 pitch 1 innings saves? His walks scare me, so far it hasn't really hurt, but...

    As for the twins schedule, doing what they are doing against poor teams, sets themselves up for a good summer and contention down the stretch. If there record was reversed against this schedule, well the season might already be over.

    Just playing .500 the rest of the year puts them at 85 wins, Just winning 6 out of 11 the rest of the way puts them at 90.

    Now they just need to stay more healthy then they have been, and don't let bad pitchers pitch too many times.

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    Overall, the Twins haven’t played as well as when they were on their seven game winning streak. They aren’t hitting or fielding as well as they were. Probably, that is a function of playing call-ups and backups. They have had the good fortune of playing Baltimore and Oakland. Outside of Bundy and Pagán, the pitching has been solid. Again it helps to be playing the O’s and A’s. 
     

    I keep seeing a roster crunch on the horizon and it never comes.  Buxton is supposed to be back midweek, Larnach and Garlick are supposed to be on the IL for the minimum duration and if they are back, there might not be room for Celestino, but I’ll believe it when I see it. The same for the 40-man roster. Sanó could be transferred to the 60-day list and Vallimont has not performed well enough to continue to be protected. Yet, the Twins haven’t made changes in their 40-man and almost every MLB team has. 

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    I'll say again, as with the last time he pitched... I don't like Pagan pitching critical innings, in comparison to some theoretical ideal that could be had... but given his limitations, I have some grudging appreciation for his approach.  (As long as it works.)

    In the game thread, I gave the outline of how I expected the inning to go, and except for a flyout to end the game rather than a strikeout (on what should be ball four, I added for amusement) it pretty much went that way.  I believe, for better or for worse, he pitches to a plan - specifically he aims to finish the inning before reaching the top of the order.  Today the first batter was the #5 guy, and he went after him, but (I infer) only in a way to allow the batter to get himself out.  If that works, great, on to the next batter.  But he seems always to have an eye toward the next batter, who will be easier.  And the next one easier still (not taking into account pinch-hitters),  On down to the #8 guy, if he hasn't got two outs yet, then he goes after him.  Ditto for the #9 guy with two outs. 

    You can view it as playing with fire, because such a plan involves being okay with putting on baserunners.  And quite possibly his game plan is not as I have stated - I'm not a mind reader.  But for his past couple of games, it has worked well to check who leads off the ninth, and work out the logistics.  A lot easier on the nerves to accept that he'll put a couple of guys on because he doesn't want to give in. :)

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    8 minutes ago, stringer bell said:

    Yet, the Twins haven’t made changes in their 40-man and almost every MLB team has. 

    Cotton, Rodriguez, Garlick and Godoy come to mind as adds/drops from the 40 since opening day.

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