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  • Twins 6, Royals 4: Smeltzer, Miranda and Defense Push Twins to the Win


    Thiéres Rabelo

    The Twins put together a good offensive performance early and survived a late rally from the Royals to take game one of the series in Kansas City. Devin Smeltzer had another convincing start and rookie Jose Miranda hit a clutch double late.

    Image courtesy of Peter Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

    Box Score
    Starting Pitcher: Devin Smeltzer, 5.1 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 0 K (74 pitches, 47 strikes, 63.5%)
    Home Runs: none
    Top 3 WPA: Devin Smeltzer (.180), Jose Miranda (.180), Jhoan Duran (.170)
    Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs)
    chart.png.61509efdc73bb842625bc2e56fdbf2c3.png

    After dropping two out of three in their last series against the Royals, the Twins were poised not to let that happen again this time. To try and accomplish that, they picked up where they left off in Oakland on Wednesday and put together a great offensive display early.

    Despite posting a solid 3.30 ERA for the year, Royals starter Daniel Lynch was over the place to begin this game. Only two of his thirteen pitches were strikes, allowing the first three Minnesota batters to reach. After Byron Buxton walked and Carlos Correa singled to lead off, Kyle Garlick grounded to left to easily score Buxton from second.

    One at-bat later, Gary Sánchez refused to slow down and hit yet another extra-base hit, making it four games in a row with at least one such hit. He doubled to left to score Correa. Then, Gio Urshela scored Garlick from third on a sac-fly, giving the Twins a 3-0 lead in the first inning.

     

    The Royals got one run back on three hits against Devin Smeltzer in the bottom of the first, but the Twins immediately responded in the second. Once again Lynch struggled with his command and three of the first four Minnesota batters reached, loading the bases for Garlick. Coming into this game, Garlick was posting a 1.187 OPS against lefties. Despite not getting a hit, he did get a good enough contact to score Jose Miranda from third on a sac-fly, making it 4-1 Twins.

    Smeltzer pitches into the sixth with the help of stellar defense behind him
    Smeltzer’s night could’ve gone downhill very early in this game, as he gave up three hits in the first inning. Fortunately, he was able to limit the damage to only the one run, stranding two runners. Then he would go on to toss 4 1/3 solid innings, with great help from his fielders.

    He retired the side on ten pitches in the second and pitched around a leadoff walk in the second. Jorge Polanco provided a great contribution when he started a lovely 4-3 double play on an Andrew Benintendi grounder. After another quick inning in the fourth, the Twins defense continued flashing the leather.

    The first two outs of the fifth inning came on a couple of great defensive plays. Polanco got Nicky Lopez on a beautiful throw to first and Gilberto Celestino caught Dairon Blanco trying to stretch a single into a double.

    Smeltzer came back to face only one batter in the sixth and he was removed from the game with only 74 pitches. He probably never looked more comfortable on the big league level than he does right now, with his ERA dropping to 1.74 after two starts. Is he here to stay? Do his low strikeouts numbers so far worry you at all?

    Royals get within one, but Miranda comes up clutch
    The bullpen looked shaky right from the get-go, with Griffin Jax giving up a walk against the first batter he saw and getting behind 2-0 in the count against the next one. He came around and ended up striking out both remaining batters to end the fifth, but the struggles continued in the next inning.

    Tyler Duffey had allowed only one run in his previous ten outings. Before this ten-game stretch, he had given up two runs in a game on April 19, against this same Royals team, also at Kauffman Stadium, in a blown save that eventually would represent the series loss for Minnesota.

    Two pitches into the game, Duffey gave up a leadoff home run to Carlos Santana to cut the Twins lead to one. Failing to get ahead on the counts, gave up a single to Emmanuel Rivera and a double to Kyle Isbel. Rocco Baldelli had enough and pulled him. Jhoan Duran came in in his relief inheriting two runners in scoring position. Whit Merrifield scored Rivera from third on a sac-fly before Duran could end the inning, making it a one-run game.

    Polanco and Sánchez were quickly retired to start the eighth inning, but the Twins offense still had some fight in them. Urshela and Max Kepler worked out crucial two-out walks against reliever Dylan Coleman, allowing Miranda to come up clutch.

    With his second-inning single, Miranda snapped an 0-for-20 slump, and this time he wanted more. He stepped up to the plate and jumped on the second pitch for a double, lining to center where Isbell couldn’t make the play, allowing both runners to score.

    It was up to Emilio Pagán in the ninth to try and secure the win. He had yet to allow an earned run this month and that happened on a Rivera one-out, solo home run to deep center. With already two outs, he allowed back-to-back singles, to Isbell and Merrifield, bringing the winning run to the plate. After a mound visit, he got behind in the count 3-0 against Benintendi, but beautifully came back to strike him out looking to end the ball game.

     

    What’s Next?
    Tomorrow at 6:10 pm CDT both teams will be back on the field for game 2.  The Twins turn to Joe Ryan (2.39 ERA), who will face Brad Keller (2.89 ERA).

    Postgame Interview

    Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet

      MON TUE WED THU FRI TOT
                 
    Winder 0 78 0 0 0 78
    Cano 25 0 19 0 0 44
    Jax 25 0 0 0 18 43
    Duran 0 0 23 0 16 39
    Duffey 20 0 0 0 18 38
    Pagán 0 0 0 0 19 19
    Thielbar 0 16 0 0 0 16
    Stashak 0 0 13 0 0 13
    Smith 0 0 0 0 0 0




     

     

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    Devin Smeltzer can win at the mlb level...when he's got this defense behind him. Urshela playing 3B like an All Star. Correa at SS. Polanco playing 2B like an All Star. Miranda playing decent 1B. Then the outfield, possibly the fastest OF the Twins have had since Rosie Buck Kepler. Celestino's arm - as good as Rosario's? More data needed. 

    Still, I can see why the FO doesn't want Smeltzer at this moment to be a regular in the rotation. Pitch to bad contact is an old Twins maxim, but today's FO wants more K's. Smeltzer in the past has racked up more K's, so he'll probably be back. Long live the fighters!

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    Pagan is constantly one pitch away from complete disaster. Twins have to be already eyeing up closers to target come the trade deadline. Bullpen help appears to be the number one need.

    Nice to see Miranda come through, things have been tough for him lately. One has to wonder if the Royals had left the speedy rookie in CF if he'd have got to that ball. Isbel made a nice effort though. Twins seem to be getting lots of lucky bounces this year - last year it was the opposite.

    Smeltzer sent to St. Paul after the game, it'll be nice to see Baily Ober back on the mound on Sunday.

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    1, Pagan is so nerve wracking. It’s literally unbearable to watch him close a game. Watching my kids compete in sports was less angst inducing than having Pagan come in to close - no matter how big the lead. Even Rocco, the ever staid, looked like he was dying inside.

    2. Btw, there is a closer in the NL who leads the majors in saves with 15, and has an ERA of 0.52 and a WHIP of 0.63.  I wonder what it would cost us to rent him for the rest of the season?

    3. It’s often stated that good ball clubs make their own luck.  If so, then this Twins team must be very, very good.

     

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    34 minutes ago, Nashvilletwin said:

    1, Pagan is so nerve wracking. It’s literally unbearable to watch him close a game. Watching my kids compete in sports was less angst inducing than having Pagan come in to close - no matter how big the lead. Even Rocco, the ever staid, looked like he was dying inside.

    2. Btw, there is a closer in the NL who leads the majors in saves with 15, and has an ERA of 0.52 and a WHIP of 0.63.  I wonder what it would cost us to rent him for the rest of the season?

    3. It’s often stated that good ball clubs make their own luck.  If so, then this Twins team must be very, very good.

     

    It seemed like every possible bounce went against the Twins last season and this year they're getting those bounces. Hopefully that continues. 

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    8 hours ago, milkytoast said:

    Can we please stop using Pagan in save situations!!

    They're kind of in a bad spot because Duran has the stuff to be a closer, but more often than not they need him to put out fires before the 9th. But I think Pagan as a closer is flirting with danger when they play better teams in a couple weeks. 

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    Too bad we had to lose Rogers for essentially pagan at this point.   Mmmm. Now who would you rather have closing?  Pagan or Rogers?  Tough choice hey?  I'm afraid when the schedule toughens up next month Pagan will get lit up by the big boys.  Twins still need to find a way to consistently get starters through 6 or 7 innings.  The overworked bullpen needs a little break.  I'm worried they won't be able to sustain their pace.

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    6 minutes ago, Whitey333 said:

    Too bad we had to lose Rogers for essentially pagan at this point.   Mmmm. Now who would you rather have closing?  Pagan or Rogers?  Tough choice hey?  I'm afraid when the schedule toughens up next month Pagan will get lit up by the big boys.  Twins still need to find a way to consistently get starters through 6 or 7 innings.  The overworked bullpen needs a little break.  I'm worried they won't be able to sustain their pace.

    Pagan will get lit up like a Christmas tree. Honestly I think they have 3 or 4 relievers that will get crushed against better hitting teams. 

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    The plan  , the plan,  the plan  .....

    Smiles everyone 

    It is sometimes hysterical  and I have to laugh at the plan ...

    Pagan the plan .... new nickname 

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    Very disappointed in the managerial decision of sending Smeltzer down when he has the defense to back him up and gives us the opportunities to win. Smeltzer has been steady all through the season why send him down when we others who are less worthy to be on the 26 active list.

    Our rotation is full of young, injured, just reabilitated and not 100% pitchers. Our roster is crying out for more long relievers so why didn't they keep Smeltzer up? My guess is Baldelli's mindset of playing chess by relying so heavily on his short relievers, it's dfficult for him to recognize long relief as a valuable arsenal. Which is a pity which could very likely burn out our short relief and then in turn our rotation. IMO short relief is our greatest weakness right now, we need as much help as we can there. We need more long relief and an experienced closer would be very nice to shore up short relief.

     

     

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    11 hours ago, blindeke said:

    As the story stated, this is a great example of how defense can save a pitcher. If a few of those plays go the other way, Smeltzer has a terrible night. 2

    Defense can save a pitcher, but in no way would this have been a terrible night for Smeltzer.  The run the Royals got in the first was on seeing eye ground balls.  The play that Polanco made was on a weak ground ball.  Celestino's throw was terrific but essentially was a hard single.  I was so impressed with Smeltzer who seemed in complete control and gave up few hard hits.  Frankly, he got the 1st out in the 6th and should have been given a chance to finish the inning.  He'll be back soon.  He has options and others don't.  I don't know what other move they could make with Ober coming back, although I think that Stashak is just a body taking up a spot right now. 

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    4 hours ago, Nashvilletwin said:

    .2. Btw, there is a closer in the NL who leads the majors in saves with 15, and has an ERA of 0.52 and a WHIP of 0.63.  I wonder what it would cost us to rent him for the rest of the season?

    The Twins are even still paying $7 million for him to pitch for the Padres!

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    I hate to say this out loud but I thought Angel Hernandez called a good game last night. I didn't think that was possible. I'm not sure what that balk was (I know he strode too far towards home plate but that is almost never called). At least I know that Angel has it in him.

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    2 hours ago, Doctor Gast said:

    Very disappointed in the managerial decision of sending Smeltzer down when he has the defense to back him up and gives us the opportunities to win. Smeltzer has been steady all through the season why send him down when we others who are less worthy to be on the 26 active list.

    Our rotation is full of young, injured, just reabilitated and not 100% pitchers. Our roster is crying out for more long relievers so why didn't they keep Smeltzer up? My guess is Baldelli's mindset of playing chess by relying so heavily on his short relievers, it's dfficult for him to recognize long relief as a valuable arsenal. Which is a pity which could very likely burn out our short relief and then in turn our rotation. IMO short relief is our greatest weakness right now, we need as much help as we can there. We need more long relief and an experienced closer would be very nice to shore up short relief.

     

     

    Having a lefty in the rotation was nice.... for the 2 games it lasted. I have a feeling the leash on guys like Archer and Bundy will shorten so Smeltzer may be back in the rotation pretty quickly if he keeps pitching well in St. Paul. 

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    6 hours ago, Nashvilletwin said:

    1, Pagan is so nerve wracking. It’s literally unbearable to watch him close a game. Watching my kids compete in sports was less angst inducing than having Pagan come in to close - no matter how big the lead. Even Rocco, the ever staid, looked like he was dying inside.

    Bull-Durham-mv04.jpg&f=1&nofb=1

    "Don't try to get everybody out. Clean innings are fascist.  Put some runners on - it's more democratic."

     

    / I may have misremembered the movie quote slightly.

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