Starting Pitcher: Chris Archer , 5.0 IP, 1H, 0R, 0ER, 1BB, 5K (78 pitches, 51 strikes, 65.4%)
Home Runs: none
Top 3 WPA: Chris Archer (.261), Luis Arraez (.096), Byron Buxton (.078)
Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs)
In last night’s game, the Twins offense got shut out for the 10th time this season, more than any team in the majors this year. Against Rockies’ ace
Germán Márquez, they were held to only three hits the entire game, sadly wasting a very solid start from Dylan Bundy. Frustrating to say the least. But tonight, things were bound to be different and that was largely thanks to a particular centerfielder returning to the lineup.
After three consecutive games away from the starting lineup,
Byron Buxton returned and he made his presence in the very first pitch he saw. After Luis Arráez hit a leadoff double to left, Buxton followed that with a hustle triple to center, celebrating a ton after he dove head first into third. Apparently, Minnesota’s offense got more energy in tonight’s first two at-bats than they did in the entire game on Friday night.
Still in the first, they could’ve added on when
Max Kepler drew a one-out walk to put men on the corners, but Antonio Senzatela struck out the next two batters to end the threat. Minnesota’s offense was hungry, though, and they picked up where they left off in the second inning. Gary Sanchez and Nick Gordon hit back-to-back singles to open the inning, and after Gio Urshela sent his longtime teammate to third on a sac-fly, Arráez hit the Twins’ third single of the inning to easily score Sánchez.
Posting a 2.00 ERA in June before this game,
Chris Archer was once again solid as a rock. He shut out the Rockies offense through five, allowing only one hit and a walk. The only time he was in fact in danger was in the second inning, when he surrendered a leadoff single to C.J. Cron, followed by a walk to Ryan McMahon. But after that, he went on to retire twelve Rockies in a row.
This was just the third time in the season he completed five innings (all of them this month), finishing one pitch shy of matching his season-high 79 pitches in a game. Archer has Arráez to thank, for, in his final pitch, the Twins second baseman made a fine defensive play to avoid a single by Elias Diaz.
Before Archer officially departed the game, the bats provided some more run support, to try and ensure he would end up with the win. Carlos Correa hit a one-out single and was followed by a Kepler walk. After a mound visit, Senzatela gave up a long single to Kyle Garlick that scored Correa and sent Kepler to third. Alex Kirilloff stepped up to the plate and couldn’t get a hit himself, but he batted in Kepler with a sac-fly, making it 4-0 Twins.
Following a complete meltdown on Wednesday’s game against the Guardians, the Twins bullpen didn’t allow any runs for the third consecutive game. Jharel Cotton took over for Archer in the sixth and he didn’t have a clean, easy outing, as he allowed back-to-back one-out walks, but managed to pitch around them to end the inning. Then Griffin Jax was fantastic in the seventh, striking out the side on 12 pitches with some nasty stuff.
In that same seventh inning, the offense scored a couple more runs to put the game out of Colorado’s reach. Reliever Carlos Estevez had gotten two quick outs when Kepler drew his third walk of the night, a season-high for him. Garlick followed him with a single, then Kirilloff hit a long double to right, pushing both runners across. His three runs batted in in the night are also a season-high for him.
Tyler Thornburg came into this game, making it the first time this season he’s pitched on back-to-back games. He had a 25-pitch eighth in which he was briefly in a jam when he gave up two consecutive one-out walks. He managed to get out of it and was brought back to the ninth. This time around he had a much easier time, finishing off the Rockies on ten pitches.
The series goes for its rubber game on Sunday afternoon, with the first pitch scheduled for 1:10 pm CDT, when rookie Joe Ryan (3.00 ERA) squares off against Ryan Feltner (5.46 ERA).
Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet