Starting Pitcher: Bailey Ober, 5.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 3 K (97 pitches, 60 strikes, 61.9%)
Home Runs: Willi Castro (9)
Top 3 WPA: Willi Castro (.353), Jorge Polanco (.207), Kyle Farmer (.172)
Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs)
In the first two games of this Cincinnati series, the Twins were dealt two significant blows on the injury front, with Carlos Correa departing Monday’s game after the first inning with an aggravated left foot plantar fasciitis and Royce Lewis limping out of Tuesday’s game in the eighth with an apparent hamstring injury. But news emerged earlier today that helped calm Twins fans down a bit.
Shortly before today’s game, the Twins placed Correa on the 10-day Injured List and recalled Trevor Larnach from Triple-A St. Paul. However, as reported by MLB.com’s Do-Hyoung Park, Correa has a full-thickness tear to the central cortex of the area, and that tear might facilitate the healing process. Also, Bally Sports North's Audra Martin reported during the broadcast that Royce Lewis was able to ride the stationary bike in the clubhouse this morning and that his condition is "much better than expected."
On to the game, and neither offense was able to bother their opposing starters much during the first two innings. Bailey Ober, the 346th pick in the 2017 Draft, and Hunter Greene, the 2nd overall pick the Twins passed on to select Royce Lewis, didn’t allow any hits in that span. But things changed in the third, as both of them pitched themselves into jams. Andrew Stevenson hit a leadoff double and was followed by a single from Christian Vázquez. Greene, however, managed to retire the next three batters and end the threat.
Ober was also ambushed in the bottom of the inning and he couldn’t keep the zero on the board. Will Benson worked a leadoff walk, and a couple of at-bats later, Ober hit Jonathan India on the shoulder to put two men on with only one out. TJ Friedl stepped up to the plate and slapped a base hit to left to score Benson. Spencer Steer then hit a long flyball to center that, fortunately, was caught by Michael A. Taylor for the second out, but both runners moved into scoring position. After an eight-pitch at-bat, Ober struck out Jake Fraley, to end a 35-pitch inning for him.
Greene dominated Minnesota’s offense throughout this game, including eight strikeouts through four innings. After a shaky third, Ober gave up a home run to former Twin Christian Encarnacion-Strand to lead off the bottom of the fourth, making it 2-0 Reds. This time, though, he was able to navigate through the inning without much risk. Ober settled in well and completed five innings on 96 pitches before Josh Winder took over in the sixth.
Castro brings the Twins back… Twice!
Greene struck out Max Kepler to lead off the top of the seventh, making it 13 punch outs for him in the afternoon – already a career-high for him. When it seemed like the Twins offense would get nothing against him, Willi Castro went yard for a second consecutive game, the first time he’s done so this season. That was all the damage the Twins could inflict, as Greene picked up his 14th strikeout on the day on his way to complete seven innings.
Winder had tossed a quick, easy sixth, before giving up a leadoff triple to Benson in the seventh. That’s when things got weird. Luke Maile made a bunt attempt, the ball went into play, and he was initially out. David Bell noticed the ball had hit Maile on the fingers and challenged the call, and a review showed the ball hit Maile in the box and was ruled dead, turning Maile’s failed bunt attempt into a strike, and allowing the at-bat to continue. On the very next pitch, Maile hit a bloop single to shallow left, driving in Benson from third and making it 3-1 Reds.
Minnesota didn’t give up, and they made this a one-run game again in the eighth, once Greene was no longer in the game. Vázquez doubled to deep right to lead off the inning, and after Larnach flied out, Édouard Julien got his first hit of the day, a bloop single to center, deep enough to score Vázquez. After Jhoan Durán pitched around a leadoff walk to deliver a scoreless eighth, the Twins were ready to rally in the ninth.
Castro was once again the headliner. Facing reliever Alexis Díaz, he hit a leadoff bunt single, then immediately tried stealing second. He succeeded, and more, as Maile made an awful throw to second, allowing Castro to advance to third. Kyle Farmer smacked a single to right to score Castro and tie the game. Vázquez drew a one-out walk, prompting a pitching change. But that was useless.
After striking out Larnach for the second out, Sam Moll intentionally walked Ryan Jeffers to face Jorge Polanco next and load the bases. Polo wasted no time, and jumped on the very first pitch for a base hit down the middle, scoring Farmer and Vázquez and giving the Twins their first lead of the afternoon, 5-3.
One week after giving up a game-winning home run to the Rays in the ninth, Griffin Jax was given another late high-leverage opportunity today. He came in to pitch the ninth, and despite giving up a leadoff walk, he was able to retire the side and record his third save of the season.
The Twins head back to the Twin Cities, where they’ll have a day off on Thursday and kick off their final homestand of the season the next day. They host the Los Angeles Angels for a three-gamer over the weekend, with game one scheduled for 7:10 pm CDT on Friday. Pablo López (10-8, 3.58 ERA) takes the mound for Minnesota, while the Angels’ starter is yet to be determined.
Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet