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  • Twins 8, Blue Jays 6: Twins Win A Rubber Match Nail-Biter in Toronto


    Theo Tollefson

    A flock of errors from the Jays gave the Twins early runs and the Twins survived a nail-biting ninth to win the game and the series over Toronto,

     

    Image courtesy of John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

    Box Score
    SP: Devin Smeltzer 4 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 1 K (62 pitches, 38 strikes (61.2 strike %))
    Home Runs: Trevor Larnach (4), Gary Sanchez (7)
    Top 3 WPA: Jorge Polanco .186 , Luis Arraez .087, Nick Gordon .076


    Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs)

    561958198_TwinsWin6-5-22.png.a0923e3d95fc3eca1c0c317595fc77a9.png

    Sunday was the Twins last day North of the Border potentially until October and the last day of an unusual roster. Thankfully for Twins fans, the team did not disappoint in the series final as the Twins collected eight runs on 16 hits and a few Blue Jays errors to give them the series win over Toronto.

    The Twins scored their first run on a wild play. Luis Arraez and Gary Sanchez had reached base both on singles. With Jorge Polanco at the plate, he hit a lazy fly ball to right field that was flat out dropped by Blue Jays right fielder Teoscar Hernandez. That allowed Arraez to score. The Twins were able to score another run in the next at-bat thanks to a Gio Urshela sacrifice flyout.

    The Twins' weren't done in that first inning. Next, Blue Jays starter Kevin Gausman faced rookie Jose Miranda. Miranda worked the count full on Gausman and landed an RBI single to center field driving in Jorge Polanco. The Blue Jays caught a break to end the inning when Gilberto Celestino singled but the Blue Jays threw out Miranda as he tried to go from first to third.

    Three runs in the top of the first were exactly what the Twins needed as Blue Jays centerfielder George Springer led off the bottom of the first with his 50th career lead off home run. Later in the inning, Twins starter Devin Smeltzer found himself in a jam with two runners on from two walks and Blue Jays catcher Alejandro Kirk at the plate. Kirk hit a ground ball on an 0-1 count that ended in a diving stop by shortstop Jermaine Palacios who turned a double play. 

    The Twins did not stop hitting as the top of the second began. The Jays outfield was shifted more to the left for Nick Gordon and that was their first mistake. Gordon pulled a Gausman changeup down the right field line and turned it into a triple to lead off the inning. Next, Palacios was able to pull an opposite field single and get his first big league run batted in to give the Twins a 4-1 lead. 

    A few at-bats later, Polanco drove his first, (or second depending on your scorecard), run of the game on an RBI single that scored Palacios. Gausman remained in the game for the third and fourth innings but left in the fourth facing another jam with Arraez on second and Polanco on first. Reliever David Phelps came in and got his team out of the jam, ending Gausman’s day with 3 ER’s, 9 hits, and a walk in 3 ⅔ innings pitched. 

    Smeltzer fared well for his 4 innings of work on Sunday. Many Twins fans on Twitter were displeased that Rocco Baldelli pulled Smeltzer after 4 with only 62 total pitches thrown. Smeltzer had gone 6 ⅔ innings in his last start against Detroit on May 31 on 101 pitches. 

    Early exit aside, Smeltzer’s command was inconsistent on Sunday. Smeltzer allowed two walks in the first that led to Palacios' impressive double play, but he also allowed two home runs, first to Springer and later to Kirk in the bottom of the fourth. The Jays had two additional hits off of Smeltzer. He recorded only one strikeout all day and that was in the fourth against Santiago Espinal

    The Twins bullpen was effective, but not as perfect as they were Friday, following Smeltzer’s removal from the game. Jharel Cotton pitched the fifth for the Twins and was perfect with a strikeout of Danny Jansen. Griffin Jax came in next and was again perfect with a strikeout of his own, this one against Hernandez. 

    Before the Twins continued with another reliever, Trevor Larnach took center stage in the top of the 7th. With the score still at 5-2, Larnach gave the Twins another insurance run with his fourth home run of the year making it a 6-2 game. 

    Then it was Joe Smith’s turn, but Matt Chapman made sure his performance wasn’t a repeat of Friday night. Chapman drilled his seventh home run of the season to center field bringing the Blue Jays back within a run with the score at 6-3. 

    What was starting to look like a save opportunity for the Twins turned into a bigger lead for them. With two outs in the top of the eighth, Arraez collected his fourth hit of the game and reached base for the fifth time to put a runner on for Gary Sanchez. 

    The Blue Jays switched relievers prior to Sanchez’s at-bat taking out Andrew Vasquez and putting in Jeremy Beasly. The Jays may have wanted to keep Vasquez in a little longer as Sanchez smacked his seventh home run of the season on Beasly’s very first pitch making it 8-3, Twins. 

    For the bottom of the eighth, the Twins brought in Johan Duran who had not pitched since Thursday. After one pitch, Duran’s day was looking to be shortened as Springer lined a ball off of Duran’s leg on the first pitch. Duran recorded the out, but time was needed before Bo Bichette’s at-bat for the Twins coaching staff to make sure Duran could stay in the game. 

    Stay in he did, as Duran struck out Bichette and got Vladimir Guerrero Jr. to ground out to complete the eighth for the Twins on eight pitches. For precautionary reasons, the Twins took Duran out after the eighth to be sure his bruise from Springer did not worsen. Baldelli handed the ball to Tyler Duffey to close out a five-run lead for the Twins in the ninth.

    Duffey, oh Duffey. The concern of Duffey coming into the game from Twins fans was well granted. After retiring only one batter, Duffey walked Kirk, gave up a single to Chapman, lining up a good at-bat for Santiago Espinal who hit a three-run home run to make it a 8-6 game. The bleeding did not stop there for Duffey. He gave up another hit, this time to Lourdes Gurriel Jr. 

    Duffey was finally able to record a second out on a fielder's choice, but the throw from Polanco to try and turn a double play was too far away from Jose Miranda at first. This allowed Jansen to advance to second, but the Twins thought pinch runner Bradley Zimmer, who was out at second, had interfered to mess up Polanco’s throw. After review, the call was upheld and Duffey was replaced by Jovani Moran to get the final out against George Springer. 

    Springer wasted no time driving a single to right that advanced Jansen to third and brought up Bichette as the winning run at the plate for his at-bat. Thankfully for the Twins, Bichette hit a ground ball straight to Gio Urshela who threw him out to end the game and give the Twins their series victory in Toronto. 

    What’s Next? 

    The Twins return home, have an off day tomorrow, and play Tuesday night in a three game series against the dreaded evil (and overrated) empire that is the New York Yankees. Jameson Taillion is scheduled to start for the Yankees and the Twins have yet to announce a starter as many roster moves will be announced by the Twins prior to Tuesday night’s game which starts at 6:40 p.m. 

    Postgame Interview

     

    Bullpen Usage Sheet

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    Loved how scrappy this group is becoming.  Celestino, Gordon, Palacios and Arraez.  And damn, that Palacios kid can pick it at short.

    Also like Moran, who can be more than a lefty specialist.  Now let’s hope like heck that Duran wasn’t injured.  Gotta get Alcala healthy.  Did he throw today in Ft. Myers?  Or were they rained out again by the storm?

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    As I said before, when Baldelli risked Lewis in CF and he got hurt and Correa got on the IL. As bad as that was, one good thing that could come out of it is we get to see what Palacios can do because I believed that he could play SS and eventually figure out MLB pitching.

    Palacios hasn't disapponted me at all. We finally have that depth at SS & CF since I can't remember when. Smeltzer gave us a chance to win too bad he couldn't go 5 innings. After a very disappointing DET series, the offense is finally show some life, especially with some of lesser stars on the team. Winning a series against red hot TOR is very gratifing. 

    Baseball is indeed a crazy sport, maybe we can sweep the Yankees like PIT did to LAD. Go Twins.

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    50 minutes ago, Aggies7 said:

    Rocco tried his darndest to manage us into a loss. Thankfully the offense covered for him 

    Feels like a lazy take in this case. All the moves worked great until Duffey, and it's pretty clear that Duffey wasn't supposed to be part of the plan. Duran would have gone 2 had he not been hit in the leg. It was a 5 run lead going into the 9th, so Rocco reasonably thought it was probably best not to push Duran too hard on a probably very sore leg. Even 5 runs proved to be a small lead for Duffey to protect today, though I don't think that we can blame Rocco for thinking that literally anyone in the bullpen should have been able to hold the lead.

    I have sometimes been critical of Rocco's feel for the bullpen. I think today we were starting to see the bullpen roles changing though. Jax was brought into the set up mix to face the heart of the Jays' lineup and Pagan and Duffey were nowhere in the plans. I think this is good, and I think we have seen the nail in the coffin for Duffey as a high leverage reliever.  Unless he really starts to look like his old self in his new low/medium lever role. He's just been giving up so much hard contact though, I don't have too much hope.

    I hope we will see the top of the bullpen coalesce around Duran, Smith, and Jax now, which seems to be what's happening. It's pretty unclear who should be next on the list right now, I would probably put Thielbar who has actually been very solid over the last month+ now.

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    The bad:

    1] Despite not being as sharp as he had been previously, I thought Smeltzer should have started the 5th.

    2] I had hoped Duffey had settled in after his early season meltdown. He was throwing 93-95 today, showing a definite uptick in velocity that was previously missing. But he needs middle or long relief at this point. 

    The good:

    Basically everything else! The team was short handed to due injury, covid illness and covid policy and still took 2 of 3 from a contender on their home field. And everyone  contributed in the wins, including then pen, with the Duffey exception Sunday. The Twins are deep and resilient and keep finding ways to win, despite some frustrating losses.

    Not sure what else Cotton has to do to stick. He's looked really good.

    Here's hoping Moran keeps it up and is here to stay.

    Palacios is a pleasure to watch in the field. He's figured out how to hit again since coming back to the Twins, at least at the milb level, and I think he's going to stick with someone, even if it's not the Twins.

    It's been fun watching this team win and grow and seeing all the kids getting a chance and mostly all succeeding. 

    The future is looking very bright. But we have a quality, contending team right now.

     

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    1 minute ago, 2wins87 said:

    Feels like a lazy take in this case. All the moves worked great until Duffey, and it's pretty clear that Duffey wasn't supposed to be part of the plan. Duran would have gone 2 had he not been hit in the leg. It was a 5 run lead going into the 9th, so Rocco reasonably thought it was probably best not to push Duran too hard on a probably very sore leg. Even 5 runs proved to be a small lead for Duffey to protect today, though I don't think that we can blame Rocco for thinking that literally anyone in the bullpen should have been able to hold the lead.

    I have sometimes been critical of Rocco's feel for the bullpen. I think today we were starting to see the bullpen roles changing though. Jax was brought into the set up mix to face the heart of the Jays' lineup and Pagan and Duffey were nowhere in the plans. I think this is good, and I think we have seen the nail in the coffin for Duffey as a high leverage reliever.  Unless he really starts to look like his old self in his new low/medium lever role. He's just been giving up so much hard contact though, I don't have too much hope.

    I hope we will see the top of the bullpen coalesce around Duran, Smith, and Jax now, which seems to be what's happening. It's pretty unclear who should be next on the list right now, I would probably put Thielbar who has actually been very solid over the last month+ now.

    A plan that features 2 innings from your best reliever with a big lead is not "great."

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    5 minutes ago, 2wins87 said:

    Feels like a lazy take in this case. All the moves worked great until Duffey, and it's pretty clear that Duffey wasn't supposed to be part of the plan. Duran would have gone 2 had he not been hit in the leg. It was a 5 run lead going into the 9th, so Rocco reasonably thought it was probably best not to push Duran too hard on a probably very sore leg. Even 5 runs proved to be a small lead for Duffey to protect today, though I don't think that we can blame Rocco for thinking that literally anyone in the bullpen should have been able to hold the lead.

    I have sometimes been critical of Rocco's feel for the bullpen. I think today we were starting to see the bullpen roles changing though. Jax was brought into the set up mix to face the heart of the Jays' lineup and Pagan and Duffey were nowhere in the plans. I think this is good, and I think we have seen the nail in the coffin for Duffey as a high leverage reliever.  Unless he really starts to look like his old self in his new low/medium lever role. He's just been giving up so much hard contact though, I don't have too much hope.

    I hope we will see the top of the bullpen coalesce around Duran, Smith, and Jax now, which seems to be what's happening. It's pretty unclear who should be next on the list right now, I would probably put Thielbar who has actually been very solid over the last month+ now.

    I'm of the opinion and maybe among the minority that Jax should have came in for one more inning since he got through on 9 pitches.

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    2 minutes ago, Peter Labuza said:

    I know when the rumors of Correa expressing interest in a long term deal in Minnesota felt very cool, but I feel it's going to be difficult for the Twins to look at the combo of Lewis and Palacios and feel this is where they need to spend their money.

    I think the Twins may have been very lucky there was no rule 5 since Palacios was left off the 40-man and certainly could have been taken as a good defensive backup at SS. We should be realistic that in all likelihood he will only be a defensive backup SS/utility player though.  After all he's only got a .450 OPS in the majors. Not to be negative, I actually thought he deserved a spot on the 40-man coming into this year, and I think if given a chance he'll produce enough offense to be a good backup/utility guy as well.

    I don't think Lewis nor certainly Palacios should prevent them from discussing an extension though. It'll probably be a moot point since I don't think they will offer anything close to Correa's desired contract. And Lewis could at least make them feel less urgency to really try.

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    12 minutes ago, rwilfong86 said:

    I'm of the opinion and maybe among the minority that Jax should have came in for one more inning since he got through on 9 pitches.

    That's fair, I also had that thought and even expected it a little, though I thought bringing in Smith was fine too.  Jax will definitely be good to go on Tuesday this way, where maybe he's a little more of maybe if he goes two innings and runs up the pitch count in the second inning 

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    A few observations after a BIG "W" today:

    1.  Considering the Twins have consistently failed to add on runs after scoring early---------the 2-out HRs by Larnach (solo) and Sanchez (2 run bomb) proved to be the cushion needed after the implosion of Duffey.

    2.  A question:   Which hitter--------Arraez or Sanchez---------would get your vote for "most valuable" over the last several weeks with Correa's absence and Buxton's prolonged slump?  Hard for me to choose.

    3.  Related to above-------Has Rocco FINALLY figured out that Sanchez needs to be our regular (5-6 games per week) catcher?  It might appear so.  Saying that, Jeffers, imo, needs to be relegated to the bench with possibly 1-2 starts per week if Twins have zero "off days".    For those keeping track---------Jeffers, who I'm sure is nice to dogs and old ladies---is stuck in a 3-35 (.086 avg) slump since May 21st.  Sanchez--now with 6 jacks and 27 RBI-----has earned full time status behind the plate.  

    With upcoming roster moves before Tuesday, there is ZERO reason this team should EVER have Jeffers in the lineup as DH.

    4.  Yes, I know Twins won the game, but a few questions for Rocco.  Sorry, I can't help myself:

    A.  Why was Smeltzer pulled after 4 IP when he'd only thrown 62 pitches?

    Yes, I know he labored somewhat in that inning, but the FACT is he did have the 8-9 hitters coming up in the 5th that he had retired on ground balls in their only other AB?

    B.   Why was Jax pulled after his dominant--only 9 pitches---6th inning with an "off day" tomorrow?  Jax buzzed through the heart of the Jays order (2-3-4) with ZERO issues.  

    C.   Related to above:  What does Jax have to do to earn more late inning/high pressure innings (7th or 8th) with the recent struggles of Joe Smith?

    D.  Rocco---------Why do you refuse to get pitchers warmed up when the current RP is imploding?  This is a troublesome and re-occurring theme.  Rocco:  Have you forgotten that you can REMOVE a pitcher after facing 3 batters?  I'm serious in asking that question!  I believe I'm correct on this having watched the game, but Baldelli didn't even get a pitcher warming up until AFTER Duffey served up his 3-run gopher ball.  Why?  This makes zero sense.

    E.  Does anyone know if Duffey has a minor league option remaining?  I doubt it, but have to ask as he continues to fail in situations that demand he just pitch average.  He looks totally lost with ZERO confidence.  He rates a whisker behind Pagan in my level of confidence to protect a lead.

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    37 minutes ago, DocBauer said:

    Not sure what else Cotton has to do to stick. He's looked really good.

    Yes - he's been one of the quiet heroes for this team. He's been caught up in the RP call-up/DFA grist mill. He deserves better, and I hope it works for him to stick around for the rest of the season.

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    36 minutes ago, USAFChief said:

    That said, can't complain about getting 2 of 3 over the weekend in Tronno. 

    It's actually "Churonno" (I live there)

    As you say, can't complain about the outcome. Stunning, in a good way.

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    21 minutes ago, 2wins87 said:

    That's fair, I also had that thought and even expected it a little, though I thought bringing in Smith was fine too.  Jax will definitely be good to go on Tuesday this way, where maybe he's a little more of maybe if he goes two innings and runs up the pitch count in the second inning 

    With Megill, Pagan, and Thielbar coming back i think they could have stretched him a little more. But we got the W and thats the most important thing.

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    17 minutes ago, darwin22 said:

    A few observations after a BIG "W" today:

    1.  Considering the Twins have consistently failed to add on runs after scoring early---------the 2-out HRs by Larnach (solo) and Sanchez (2 run bomb) proved to be the cushion needed after the implosion of Duffey.

    2.  A question:   Which hitter--------Arraez or Sanchez---------would get your vote for "most valuable" over the last several weeks with Correa's absence and Buxton's prolonged slump?  Hard for me to choose.

    3.  Related to above-------Has Rocco FINALLY figured out that Sanchez needs to be our regular (5-6 games per week) catcher?  It might appear so.  Saying that, Jeffers, imo, needs to be relegated to the bench with possibly 1-2 starts per week if Twins have zero "off days".    For those keeping track---------Jeffers, who I'm sure is nice to dogs and old ladies---is stuck in a 3-35 (.086 avg) slump since May 21st.  Sanchez--now with 6 jacks and 27 RBI-----has earned full time status behind the plate.  

    With upcoming roster moves before Tuesday, there is ZERO reason this team should EVER have Jeffers in the lineup as DH.

    4.  Yes, I know Twins won the game, but a few questions for Rocco.  Sorry, I can't help myself:

    A.  Why was Smeltzer pulled after 4 IP when he'd only thrown 62 pitches?

    Yes, I know he labored somewhat in that inning, but the FACT is he did have the 8-9 hitters coming up in the 5th that he had retired on ground balls in their only other AB?

    B.   Why was Jax pulled after his dominant--only 9 pitches---6th inning with an "off day" tomorrow?  Jax buzzed through the heart of the Jays order (2-3-4) with ZERO issues.  

    C.   Related to above:  What does Jax have to do to earn more late inning/high pressure innings (7th or 8th) with the recent struggles of Joe Smith?

    D.  Rocco---------Why do you refuse to get pitchers warmed up when the current RP is imploding?  This is a troublesome and re-occurring theme.  Rocco:  Have you forgotten that you can REMOVE a pitcher after facing 3 batters?  I'm serious in asking that question!  I believe I'm correct on this having watched the game, but Baldelli didn't even get a pitcher warming up until AFTER Duffey served up his 3-run gopher ball.  Why?  This makes zero sense.

    E.  Does anyone know if Duffey has a minor league option remaining?  I doubt it, but have to ask as he continues to fail in situations that demand he just pitch average.  He looks totally lost with ZERO confidence.  He rates a whisker behind Pagan in my level of confidence to protect a lead.

    Your questions are absolutely valid and most of them are exactly what many of us are thinking, for me the Jax move made no sense. 

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    51 minutes ago, 2wins87 said:

    Feels like a lazy take in this case. All the moves worked great until Duffey, and it's pretty clear that Duffey wasn't supposed to be part of the plan. Duran would have gone 2 had he not been hit in the leg. It was a 5 run lead going into the 9th, so Rocco reasonably thought it was probably best not to push Duran too hard on a probably very sore leg. Even 5 runs proved to be a small lead for Duffey to protect today, though I don't think that we can blame Rocco for thinking that literally anyone in the bullpen should have been able to hold the lead.

    I have sometimes been critical of Rocco's feel for the bullpen. I think today we were starting to see the bullpen roles changing though. Jax was brought into the set up mix to face the heart of the Jays' lineup and Pagan and Duffey were nowhere in the plans. I think this is good, and I think we have seen the nail in the coffin for Duffey as a high leverage reliever.  Unless he really starts to look like his old self in his new low/medium lever role. He's just been giving up so much hard contact though, I don't have too much hope.

    I hope we will see the top of the bullpen coalesce around Duran, Smith, and Jax now, which seems to be what's happening. It's pretty unclear who should be next on the list right now, I would probably put Thielbar who has actually been very solid over the last month+ now.

    Aren’t we supposed to be watching how many innings duran has? Why use him for TWO innings of a 5 run game? And smith has been shaky shaky shaky for about a month now. Rocco manages the pitching staff like we have an all star loaded bullpen. There’s a steep drop off after duran. Rocco should be trying to get as many innings out of his starters as possible, not yanking them because they reach the magical third time through the order 

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    Baseball can be a really tough business. It takes years to make a team and get somewhat established and then if a pitcher loses their command and control ... poof there goes their career. Duffey and Pagan get longer looks than Cotton, Moran, or a few others but it is approaching a time to get the gang together to chat over how long the Twins hang in there with those guys. Based purely on stuff, command, control, and the eye test of how batters look against the relief staff, my personal ranking goes something like Duran, a healthy Alcala, Jax, Moran, Cotton, and then the others: Smith, Megill, Stashak, Minaya, Cano, Thielbar, Coulonbe, Pagan, and Duffey. I think they use those options until it is obvious that a few vets need to be DFA. I guess we will see in the next six weeks or sooner.

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    I gotta bone to pick with the Twins organization about Jermaine Palacios. Here is a young man with the size and shape of a young Alex Rodriguez. He's a big, athletic guy, yet they have him hitting in a stance and style hat guarantees he will never hit for power. 

    Jermaine Palacios should have a stance like Chili Davis: Front shoulder closed, front hip pointing at the pitcher, front heel lined up with rear toe, weight back on inside of rear foot. It's a simple power stance I once taught to a complete novice in 30 seconds. Then you meet the ball no later than a line you draw from the front toe. 

    This guy should be terrifying opposing teams with exit velocities rivaling anybody in the league. Why the Twins taught him to tippy toe through an at-bat, that's just coaching malfeasance. Let this man swing a bat for real!

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    1 hour ago, USAFChief said:

    A plan that features 2 innings from your best reliever with a big lead is not "great."

    The lead was 3 runs when he started getting loose and against one of the best lineups in the league, idk, it seems fine to me.  

    The way they have used Duran this year is different from other high leverage guys. He never goes back to back days and usually they try to give him at least 2 days off, but he does frequently go 2 innings.  I'm pretty sure that's not a Baldelli invention, rather the front office/training staff have decided it's the best way to transition him to the bullpen. Given those parameters, since he had already started warming up it seemed like a fine plan to me.

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    25 minutes ago, rwilfong86 said:

    With Megill, Pagan, and Thielbar coming back i think they could have stretched him a little more. But we got the W and thats the most important thing.

    I'm not sure Megill will be coming back given what we saw from Cotton and I don't want to see him or Pagan in a high leverage situation anyway.

    Agreed on the W though.

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