Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs)
After a rough road trip to LA, the Minnesota Twins needed to return home and find some home cooking. A familiar division foe in the Kansas City Royals awaited them. Only playing the game would let us know if the Twins would take advantage of an easy stretch in their schedule.
Royals New and Old
A familiar Royals bat and a new royals bat teamed up in the first inning to give the visiting team an early lead. Joe Ryan has struggled as of late and was looking to find the front-line starter form that he had exhibited early in the season. That form looked to have returned as Ryan struck out the first two batters of the night.
That changed as usual Twins killer Salvador Perez, broke open the hitting with an opposite-field single. Something the Twins will take as Perez has made loud contact against the Twins more often than anyone wants to remember. While Ryan avoided loud contact against Perez, he didn't, with Vinny Pasquantino facing the Twins for the first time. Pasquantino squared up a Ryan fastball and dropped it in the right field bleachers to give the Royals an early 2-0 lead.
Max Kepler’s bat has been absent since coming back to action after breaking his toe. Coming into the evening, Kepler was 0 for 29. With runners on first and second, Kepler would slap the ball to the opposite field. The hit had just enough run to bring Jorge Polanco around to score and bring the Twins within one run.
While snapping his individual hitless streak, Kepler also snapped the Twins 0-19 streak with runners in scoring position. The new haircut Kepler was sporting will certainly receive lots of attention and credit through the evening as Kepler went on to go 3-for-4 with a double, a run, and an RBI.
Ryan hits the century-inning mark
As Ryan steadied his form after the first inning home run, in the middle of the fifth inning, he hit a significant number on the season. Ryan became the first Twins pitcher to log 100 innings in 2022. The Minnesota Twins were also the last remaining MLB team to have a pitcher hit that mark. A further display of the struggles in the rotation when it comes to both health and having any starters who can pitch deep into games.
The Rookie and Polanco show up in the fifth
As the Twins bats struggled through much of the game to get going against Royals starter Kris Bubic, in the fifth, the Twins finally began to string some hits together. Jose Miranda added an exclamation point by singling to right-field to score Luis Arraez to tie the game. Polanco followed with a sac-fly to score Carlos Correa to give the Twins a 3-2 lead.
Thielbar slams the door in the sixth
As Ryan was making his way a third time through the Royals lineup, he ran into trouble. After a walk to Pasquantino and a near homerun to Michael Massey there were runners on second and third with no outs. Ryan was able to strike out Nate Eaton before being lifted for Caleb Thielbar.
Thielbar came into the game to face former Twin Brent Rooker and forced him to fly out. The lefty then slammed the door on the Royals scoring opportunity by striking out Michael A. Taylor to strand two Royals runners in scoring position. That outing from Thielbar set up the bullpen to do what it is designed to do. That is shut down the opposing lineup as it goes through Griffin Jax, Jhoan Duran, and lastly Jorge Lopez to finish out the win.
Tomorrow evening the Twins will send Sonny Gray to the mound. Gray will be looking to put together a complete outing after falling apart late last time out. The Royals will counter with veteran Zack Greinke. Greinke has not been the same pitcher as he has been in previous seasons, and the Twins bats will look to capitalize on that.
Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet