Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs)
Eight is Enough, at least tonight
When a team's bats are struggling, as the Twins certainly have of late, it sure is nice to see a pitching staff toss a shutout. When a team gets a short start from a starter, it is really nice to have the offense provide a little cushion and help deliver the team a relatively easy, low-stress win.
The Twins jumped on the board first in the bottom of the first when Gio Urshela ripped a ground-rule double to score Jose Miranda. Gary Sanchez followed with a sacrifice fly to make it 2-0. In the second frame, Carlos Correa singled to score Jermaine Palacios and give them a 3-0 lead.
In the fourth inning, Jermaine Palacios just missed a home run but flew out deep enough to left field to score Jake Cave who had led off with a double. Palacios had some quality plate appearances on Saturday, but he is now hitless in his past 31 at-bats. It is the longest hitless streak since Oswaldo Arcia went 0-for-31 in 2014.
The big blast came in the bottom of the fifth inning when Gary Sanchez came to the plate with two runners on base. He took a 3-0 pitch down the middle and crushed it well into the left field bleachers. Sanchez's 15th homer gave the Twins a little breathing room with a 7-3 lead. The Sanchez homer was the 153rd of his MLB career, so it is surprising that it was the first that he has hit on a 3-0 count.
Gilberto Celestino drove in Urshela with a ground out to give the Twins their eighth run which proved to be enough on this night.
The Twins snapped their five-game losing streak and can tie the season series with the Angels with a win on Sunday.
Jose Miranda took off with a big July, and while he has still been quite solid in August and September, there is no question that he has cooled down. On Saturday night, Miranda had three hits in his first three at-bats. His first-inning single ended an 0-for-14 streak.
In addition, Gio Urshela went 3-for-4, but as you can see from his WPA, he had a couple of big hits to help the team win. Luis Arraez had two hits, and clearly, the big hit of the game came off the bat of Sanchez.
Luis Arraez batted third and played first base on Saturday night. He went 2-for-4 in the game so his average now sits at .313. He recorded multiple hits for the 46th time this season.
Xander Bogaerts went 2-for 4. He is hitting .315. Aaron Judge went 0-for-3 with a walk, so his average is now down to .314. Jose Abreu went 0-for-4 to drop his average to .305. Nathaniel Lowe (Rangers) went 0-for-3 with a walk, so his average fell to .305 as well.
Bullpen Provides Zero(es)
Joe Ryan went just four innings, but the bullpen really stepped it up in this game to help the team to a win. However, Ryan did record five strikeouts and is now one strikeout shy of setting the Twins rookie record. Francisco Liriano struck out 144 batters in his 2006 rookie season.
Griffin Jax received his seventh win of the season. He walked one and struck out one in a scoreless fifth inning. Caleb Thielbar came in and looked dominant. He struck out the first two batters before the inning ended on a strikeout. Michael Fulmer only needed nine pitches to work a perfect seventh inning. Jorge Lopez got two groundouts and a strikeout in a perfect eighth frame.
Thielbar, Fulmer and Lopez faced a total of nine batters and needed a combined 33 pitches. Then the Twins bullpen ace, Jhoan Duran came on and struggled, but didn’t really struggle. He gave up one run on three hits, though none of the three hits was hit hard. The bases were loaded with one out and Mike Trout coming to the plate. Duran had already thrown a lot of pitches, so I’m sure the bench was getting a little anxious. However, Duran got Trout to line out to right field for a sacrifice fly before getting Ohtani on a slow roller to end the game.
The Twins will send RHP Dylan Bundy (8-7, 4.78 ERA) to the mound on Sunday to attempt to gain a series win over the Angels. The team will face Jose Suarez who is 6-8 with a 4.11 ERA. The game is scheduled for 1:10 pm.
On Monday, the Twins will have their final off day of the year.
Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet