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  • Twins 6, Rockies 3: Buxton Falls HR Short of Cycle in Series Win over Rockies


    Theo Tollefson

    The Twins concluded their series against the Colorado Rockies on Sunday with rookie starter Joe Ryan on the mound. Ryan did not have the best control but his teammates were able to deliver at the plate for him to still come away with a win on the afternoon.

    Image courtesy of Bruce Kluckhohn

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    Box Score

    SP: Joe Ryan 5 IP, 8 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 1 K (102 pitches, 64 strikes (62.7 strike %))

    Home Runs: None

    Top 3 or Bottom 3 WPA: Emilo Pagan .173, Byron Buxton .160, Max Kepler .117

    Win Probability Chart

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    Joe Ryan got the start for the Twins and was overworked during the first inning. Ryan allowed a leadoff double to Rockies left fielder Connor Joe, got the next two batters out on a ground and flyout, then surrendered an RBI double to former Twin C.J. Cron that put the Rockies up 1-0. Ryan escaped the inning on a groundout from Brendan Rodgers, but threw 23 pitches to start his day. 

    Ryan’s battery mates came up for him in the bottom of the first after his struggles. Byron Buxton drew one out to get things going for the Twins. Then Carlos Correa and Max Kepler followed up with singles of their own, Kepler driving in Buxton who scored the tying run making it 1-1 game. 

    Alex Kirilloff wanted to join in on the fun following Kepler with another RBI single that scored Correa and gave the Twins a 2-1 lead with only one out. The hits couldn’t stop coming after Kirilloff as Gio Urshela added another RBI single to the train. 

    The Rockies were able to stop the bleeding with their starter Ryan Feltner getting Nick Gordon out on a warning track flyout and a strikeout of Ryan Jeffers. The Twins finished the inning with 3 runs on 4 hits giving Ryan a 3-1 lead for the second inning. 

    The top of the second was another rough patch for Ryan. Ryan started the inning with a lead off walk to Ryan McMahon and a single to Elehuris Montero. Ryan was able to get Rockies catcher Brian Serven out on a flyout the next at bat. 

    Kirilloff had left first base to get the out and neither Arraez or Correa were covering second. Montero took advantage of the situation and tagged up from first to second to give the Rockies runners in scoring position with one out. Ryan once again got out of the jam but not without clocking up his pitch count to 56 through two innings. 

    The Twins lineup was once again able to support Ryan after a rough inning as Arraez got his first hit of the afternoon with one out. Following that at-bat, Buxton had his second triple of the season and first back-to-back game with triples since September 2 and 3 of 2017 against the Royals. Buxton’s triple gave the Twins a 4-1 lead and one at-bat later, Correa hit a sacrifice fly to give the Twins a 5-1 lead. 

    Struggles continued for Ryan on the mound in the top of the third as Charlie Blackmon hit a solo home run with one out to make it a 5-2 game. The next batter Cron got hit by a Cron fastball, his fourth of the season. Ryan was able to get out of the jam but not before surrendering another hit. 

    The Twins bats went quiet in the bottom of the third and it looked to be the same for the Rockies in the top of the fourth. That was until Connor Joe got another hit with two outs and was driven in by Yonathan Daza in the next at-bat on a double. Ryan was able to retire Blackmon during the next at-bat on a ground out, but the damage had been done as the score turned to 5-3 with Ryan at 88 pitches through four innings. 

    Following another rough inning for Ryan, the Twins were able to get runners into scoring position on another Arraez single and Buxton double. But Correa flew out to Blackmon on two outs, keeping the Twins from extending their lead.

    Ryan’s best inning on the mound came in the fifth inning but it did not come without a hit surrendered to Cron once again. The inning ended on a spectacular warning track catch by Mark Contreras but Ryan’s afternoon on the mound was certainly over as he had 102 pitches and 11 base runners through 5 innings. 

    Caleb Thielbar came on in relief for Ryan in the top of the sixth. Thielbar allowed the first three batters he faced to reach on two hits and walk, but then retired his first batter a line drive back to his glove from Daza. The next at-bat led to a groundout to Urshela where he was able to get the runner out at home for the force before scoring. Thielbar was then removed from the game following Blackmon’s ground out. 

    Emilo Pagan was brought in to get the final out of the sixth, and he did it as quickly as he could getting a three-pitch strikeout of Cron to end the inning. 

    Things were quiet for both teams until the bottom of the seventh when Buxton reached base for the fourth time on the day on a single. He only needed a home run to complete the cycle for the day after that at-bat. Buxton would later score on a Kepler RBI double giving the Twins a 6-3 lead.

    The Twins bats would not get much else going in the bottom of the eighth and Buxton would not receive one last opportunity to hit for the cycle. 

    Jhoan Duran came on for the save in the top of the ninth and recorded a one, two, three inning to give the Twins the series victory over Colorado. The Twins improved their all time record against their closest National League West opponent to 10-8 in 18 games since 2003. 

    The under-the-radar hero in the top of the ninth that should not go without mention, was the Athletic's Dan Hayes in the Twins press box. Hayes infamously dropped a foul ball late in the Twins Wednesday night game against Cleveland which earned him roasting from the fellow press core and Twins Bally broadcast booth. 

     

    Today, Hayes redeemed himself as with two outs in the ninth, he had a foul ball from Rodgers hit directly to him. This time he caught it and found a kid to give the ball to. Hayes received a well deserved round-of-applause from the press box, the only exception that was allowed to have the room cheering. 

    What’s Next? 
    The Twins begin a five game series against the Cleveland Guardians in four days with the first beginning Monday night at 6:10 p.m. CT. The Twins will have Sonny Gray (3-1, 2.53) on the mound going against Triston McKenzie (4-5, 3.51) for the Guardians. 

    Postgame Interview (Bally Sports Tweets)

     

    Bullpen Usage Sheet

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    1 minute ago, Melissa said:

    Great win!

    BTW, the “battery mates” sentence  confused this older lady. Aren’t the pitcher and catcher meant by that phrase? The OP seems to think it means “teammates” or lineup or hitters…

    Something stronger than a Like button is needed.  Truth.

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    It’s perfectly ok to question some of Rocco’s moves when his strategies don’t work. It also is appropriate to give him credit when they do. Having Pagan up and ready if needed in the 6th was a good move as was having him come in to finish the inning. That move may have saved the game. Good move Rocco.

    Also, several people commented yesterday about Archer’s pitch count. Rocco is making a good call saving him for later in the year. It’s not clear Maeda will make it back and we have a number of young guys who might be near their ideal yearly innings count come September. Another good strategy by Rocco.

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    Nice game. Pagán came up big. If they can add someone at the top of the pen he would be an asset in inning 6-7. Duffey pitched well. No hard contact. Ground balls. Contreras took away a hit that had a .970 expected batting average. He will be useful the next few years while he is on options. In that time he may grow into a fourth OF role.

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    19 minutes ago, stringer bell said:

    The best thing is watching Buxton run--home to third, home to second and finally first to home--and then watching the joy on his face. It doesn't appear that he has lost much speed, if any, when he actually opens it up and runs full speed.

    Meanwhile Contreras made a difficult zig-zaggy play in center to prevent trouble, that I believe Buxton would have made look pretty routine; it's not solely the speed but also the nearly unerring bead he gets on the ball right away.  We miss having the full suite of services he offers this team.

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    Just now, ashbury said:

    Meanwhile Contreras made a difficult play in center to prevent trouble, that I believe Buxton would have made look pretty routine.  We miss having the full suite of services he offers this team.

    Not to rain on Contreras' parade, but he made the catch look more difficult than it really was. He had a full step to the wall. That said, it was a key play that went the Twins way. 

    I have been commenting that we've been seeing a limited Buxton. However, today he didn't hit a homer and was the dominant player for the team. A lot of players don't score from first after Kepler's double and very few get a triple to left-center in the second inning. 

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    Buxton is usually very good when he plays.  But his inability to stay on the field has been troublesome for 7 years and continues as expected this year.  Four inning Archer should have been extended more by now.  The year is half over.  Maybe using him as an opener is working I don't know.  Just not sold on him yet.  If he was signed to be a starter then he should be going 6 innings by now.  Big Cleveland series.  Twins need some serious depth from Gray tonight to save on the bullpen for Tuesdays doubleheader.  With so many holes on this team it is amazing they are still competitive

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    A little bit of a nervy game, because Ryan just didn't look comfortable out there. He wasn't finishing guys off like we've been used to. Fair play to the Rockies, they stayed alive at the plate until they got a pitch to hit, but it really didn't seem like Ryan had it tonight. Appreciate how he battled through it to get five done, though.

    Duran was just filthy yesterday. the fastball was lightning, 101-102 with good movement. the splinker was ridiculous (I think Smalley's brain melted when he tossed one at 97). 

    Buxton's knee must have been feeling good, certainly no problems for him running the bases! Love seeing him hit triples (still one of the most exciting plays in baseball) and when he turns a single into a double it's enough to get me out of my seat even when I'm at home. 

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