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  • Twins 6, White Sox 4: Twins End White Sox Series Sweep with a Bang


    Sherry Cerny

    The Twins fell behind very early, like on the first pitch. Chris Archer started out the Twins game by giving Tim Anderson a one-run home run and continued to struggle throughout the game. Archer fought through three innings giving up two runs before being relieved by Josh Winder, who gave up a solo home run in the seventh.

    Image courtesy of Bruce Kluckhohn, USA TODAY Sports

    But they battled back, scoring one run off of White Sox ace Lucas Giolito and tying up the game on a home run by Byron Buxton in the seventh inning. They threatened to take the lead in the eighth inning but left the bases loaded when Luis Arraez grounded out to second base. 

    That didn't stop the Twins from having faith. Byron Buxton came up to bat in the 10th inning to get a three-run homerun to walk it off!

    Box Score
    SP: Chris Archer: 3 IP,3 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 2 K (61 pitches, 32 strikes (52.4%))
    Home Runs: Byron Buxton 2 (6)
    Top 3 WPA: Byron Buxton (.761), Jhoan Duran (.227), Max Kepler (.168) 
    Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs)

    image.png.dc8c8b361fdd8a2d2b6ef69cce7edfb7.png

    Larnach’s Series
    Trevor Larnach’s series versus the White Sox has been one of consistency. Since the game in Kansas City versus the Royals, Larnach has had a hit every game, responsible for two of the RBIs in the Saturday afternoon game giving the Twins a seven-run lead in the bottom of the fourth. He did not fare as well at the plate today, striking out twice (looking, once with the bases loaded, and once with runners on second and third) but still found a way to contribute. 

    As Archer struggled to maintain control in the third inning, with bases loaded, Andrew Vaughn singled a sharp line drive to Larnach in left-field, who threw a cannon home to Jose Godoy to end the inning. 

    Godoy Makes Twins Debut
    Jose Godoy’s contract was added to the Twins’ roster yesterday and made his debut with the Twins today. The former Seattle Mariner had 40 at-bats last year ending the season with a .162 batting average. Ryan Jeffers was scratched from the line-up two hours before game time for a knee contusion and Gary Sanchez is still out with abdominal tightness. 

    Godoy saw five pitches in his first at-bat, striking out.  Godoy’s first and second appearances he struck out, but rounded out his first game with the Twins being walked by Aaron Bummer, before being sent home off Byron Buxton game-tying two-run home run. Then he walked again in the 10th inning, coming around again on Buxton's game-winning home run. 

    His defense and chemistry with Archer was impressive to watch. The rookie catcher was able to frame pitches on a consistent basis and has good reaction time. Godoy showed his speed and agility as he ran to catch a foul off Grandal’s bat at the top of the third. Interference from the fence made for a hard catch, but Archer and Godoy got Grandal to swing at a high fast ball striking him out with the next pitch.

    He did, however, commit a cardinal sin in the 8th inning. With the winning run on third base and one out, he squared to bunt but popped out to White Sox pitcher Kendall Graveman. 

    Postgame Postscript: We learned after the game that Jeffers took a ball off his knee earlier this series and had a left knee contusion and that Rocco really did not want to use him. That proved to be important as there was that opportunity in the 8th inning to pinch hit for Godoy in the bat in which he popped out on a bump. So the Twins entered today's game with three catchers on the active roster, but only one was truly active. 

    Bats Show Signs of Life
    The Twins line-up was consistent over the series and through today battling rain and cold to keep their bats swinging, a nice change of pace from the earliest part of the season’s start. With the exception of a few players getting strikeouts early, by the 6th inning, at a minimum, almost every bat made contact with a pitch. Even Miguel Sano who was 0-for-8 through the series ended up getting a single into right field in the second inning. 


    Giolito Returns But Doesn’t Last Long
    The Twins have been having trouble scoring runs, so the last thing they need is to face a preseason Cy Young Award candidate. Not only was today’s opposing pitcher, Lucas Giolito, a candidate, he opened the season as one of the favorites at 13-2 odds.

    However, he was also making his first start after a stay on the 10-day injured list for an abdominal strain, and that rust showed a bit in the first inning. Giolito threw 26 pitches that inning, only half of which were strikes, and walked two Twins. But with the bases loaded, he escaped untarnished by striking out Trevor Larnach on two changeups and a fastball. 

    The story was similar in the third inning. This time, a walk, and a couple of singles loaded the bases, and the Twins cashed in a run on a sacrifice fly by Gio Urshela. But Giolito escaped further damage by fooling young left-handed hitters - this time both Larnach and Nick Gordon - with his changeup and fastballs away. 

    Still, he had already thrown 65 pitches through three innings, and due to his stint on the injured list, it was expected he would only throw 70-80 pitches in his second outing this year. Sure enough, after an efficient fourth inning, his day was over. 

    Gordon’s Growth
    Nick Gordon played in his 12th game today, starting at shortstop as manager Rocco Baldelli gave Carlos Correa a day off. He entered today with a 694 OPS in 26 plate appearances. He will likely never show a lot of power, and a .261 batting average is nothing special, but he is getting on base almost 35% of the time.

    Almost any evaluation of Gordon’s future and performance are tied to the wide range of expectations attached to him. If your expectations are tied to his selection in the first round of the 2014 draft, or of his family pedigree, you’re likely going to be disappointed. If, on the other hand, your expectations of him were set by his performance and health issues in AAA as recently as 2019, you might be delighted by his sudden progression as a valuable bench asset. 

    To both camps, I’d suggest it is time to take a look at him with fresh eyes. He’s a 26-year-old who is likely to never post a big OPS because he will likely never hit for power. But he gets on base, he is capable (though not outstanding) in several key defensive roles, and as a left-handed hitter, he is more likely to get a decent matchup versus right-handed pitchers. Plus, he’s an asset on the base paths.

    All that makes him an ideal super-utility player, which is exactly the role he is fulfilling this year. If he can show that he can raise his batting average closer to .300, he might improve to the point where he could be a regular starter. Fortunately for him, his performance and usefulness should provide plenty of opportunities to show his development in the super-utility role.

    Winder Unleashed
    After nearly a week without making an appearance, long reliever and promising prospect Josh Winder made an appearance when Chris Archer only lasted three innings. He gave up one run over four innings, striking out two and giving up three hits. Maybe most notably, after struggling with his control in his first appearance, he walked none and threw strikes in 42 of his 61 pitches. 

    Winder is working as the long reliever but is a starting pitching prospect long-term. We saw today what we have seen from him so far: he is a slider-first pitcher who turns to his fastball to keep hitters off-balance. It seems to be working well in a relief role, but it will be interesting to see how it plays when he has to face a lineup a second time. Certainly today that was in question, as he gave up a home run on his second time through the order. 

    But for the most part, we likely won’t see him face batters more than once in his current role with the Twins. We might get a better sense of that if he was starting in St. Paul, but he’s now fulfilling an important role with the major league club. Regardless, it’s nice to see another Twins pitching prospect having some success in the majors. 

    Postgame Postscript: We learned after the game that the plan was always for Archer to be limited to only 50-60 pitches, and he was told that after his last start in Kansas City. We also learned from Rocco that this decision was specific to Archer; they're not planning right now on similar planned short starts with the rest of the rotation. He also hinted that they wanted to do this now, when they still had a 28-man roster. It'll be interesting to see if Winder eventually does go down to St. Paul as part of the mandatory roster trimming that will happen next week, or whether he'll continue in this role in which he's having success. 

    Clutch Buxton

    Byron Buxton had a fantastic series, hitting every chance he got, and coming through whenever the team needed him. His 3-run home run came on a 3-1 count with runners on second and third base and one out. White Sox closer Liam Hendricks, in his second inning of work, pitched to Buxton in that situation rather than give him a free pass to first base and load the bases for Luis Arraez. It’s not clear that strategy would have fared any better, but they likely would choose a different path given another chance.

    Postgame Postscript: As expected (and completely appropriate) postgame interviews centered entirely around Buxton doing godlike things. Baldelli called Buxton the best player in the world right now, and marveled at some of the things he did. But you might be surprised at what he wanted to breakdown: it was Buxton's first, game-tying home run in the 8th.  Here it is, because he breaks down what  we are seeing pretty nicely.

    "He's facing a left-hander who as we saw earlier in the game, is one of the best left-handers in the game. Gets a ton of groundballs. He's a really hard guy to drive the ball in the air against. And he's a guy that normally pitches all the right-handers in, pound 'em in. And he decided to go away to Buck.

    And it took a few pitches, but Buck identifies what's going on. Completely changes what he's trying to do at the plate. And lines a ball over the right field fence. I mean, there's nothing typical or everyday or normal about that. That's very, very special. And I don't want to stop talking about it, because it's so impressive. Even for people who watch this level of baseball everyday. To see what he's doing it's just awesome."

    What’s Next? 

    The Twins will enjoy an off day at home on Monday before starting a three-game series against the Detroit Tigers at Target Field. Pitching matchups for the series include: 

    • Tuesday 6:40: Chris Paddock (0-2, 5.00) vs LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (0-1, 5.27 ERA)
    • Wednesday 6:40: Joe Ryan (2-1, 1.69 ERA) vs RHP Michael Pineda (1-0, 0.00 ERA) 
    • Thursday 12:10: Bailey Ober  (1-1, 2.81 ERA) vs LHP Tarik Skubal (1-1, 2.30 ERA)

    Postgame Interview 

    Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet

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    This game seems pretty entertaining.  The Twins must have read Nick’s comments about being boring and decided to have several defensive gems, key well timed Buxton Homer’s, and even a Sano single.  Everyone was entertained today.  And we are back to .500 and knocking on the door to first place again where we belong.

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    I don't know what the Twins record will be at the end of the season, but I do know that there is nobody else in the MLB that I would rather have right now than Buck (yes, including even Trout). 

    Buxton at peak powers over the next few years will be something to behold (please to not run into anymore walls hard to save one out unless it is in the playoffs....we need you too much!)

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    5 minutes ago, Brandon said:

    This game seems pretty entertaining.  The Twins must have read Nick’s comments about being boring and decided to have several defensive gems, key well timed Buxton Homer’s, and even a Sano single.  Everyone was entertained today.  And we are back to .500 and knocking on the door to first place again where we belong.

    Yeah, my buddy who isn't really into baseball went to this game and I couldn't have asked for a better game to win him over.

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    I know they're dealing with a bunch of injuries now but wow did the White Sox look terrible this weekend. Did their best to gift-wrap two wins to the Twins this series. And this is supposed to be a legit World Series contender? They don't look to be even a .500 team if they keep this up. Three weeks into the season the AL Central has zero teams above .500 - in the last year of the hyper-unbalanced schedule, this division might be the worst it's ever been, which is truly saying something. 

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    Really good to see Twins hitters working pitchers for walks. Normally, if you grind out 9 of them in a game, you're going to score a big pile of runs, lol. Also glad to see Winder get in a game; I don't care for a pitcher at his development stage just sitting in the bullpen waiting for a long relief shot in a blowout. He needs to pitch, and did ok today.

    Buxton is ridiculous. Oh my goodness, he is a heck of a baseball player. He absolutely obliterated that walk-off.

    Gordon is doing a nice job as a utility guy. He's been profiled as this for a while, and he can add a lot of value to a team's bench with his positional flexibility, on-base skills, and respectable speed. He's never going to have much pop in his bat and I don't know if he'll ever be a plus defender at any position but he's solid enough in a lot of places that you can play him there comfortably for a game, which also adds options for you to use him as a pinch hitter (or anyone else, really).

    Dang, I like sweeping the ChiSox. Suck it, LaRussa.

    (and hey, Liam? Who's shouting now?)

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    10 minutes ago, Yawn Gardenhose said:

    I know they're dealing with a bunch of injuries now but wow did the White Sox look terrible this weekend. Did their best to gift-wrap two wins to the Twins this series. And this is supposed to be a legit World Series contender? They don't look to be even a .500 team if they keep this up. Three weeks into the season the AL Central has zero teams above .500 - in the last year of the hyper-unbalanced schedule, this division might be the worst it's ever been, which is truly saying something. 

    I don't know yet if this is how the Sox's year will end ... but their beginning certainly reminds me of the Twins last year ... high expectations, then injuries and illness and under/poor performance just derailed them. The Sox seem to be going that route this season when their expectations are high

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    4 minutes ago, Nashvilletwin said:

    ESPN said Buck’s walkoff measured 469ft - that has to be one of the longest HRs at Target Field, yes?

    Sano had a 496-er in 2019 against the ChiSox (according to a quick google search ... someone else may be able to confirm or deny this)

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    Aside from the glorious obvious and well covered Buxton love, let me give Gio Ushela his due, too. That play at third with the great get and throw from his butt without a bounce was truly astounding!

    And.... the play that Godoy finished and Larnach started with the fine throw from left is notable. Saved that run. Seeing where Godoy placed his foot as he made the tag was very impressive. Godoy working the 2 important walks, too. Both became runs with Buxton homers (which was the 2 run difference in this win). Larnach got a lot of love in the article. But the two at bats that he watched the third strike looking with the bases loaded and runners on second and third...... and that is consistency? Not a consistency I hope continues.

    In a lament....... it sure would be nice to have CJ Cron at first right now instead of Sano. Sano is just painful to watch, at the plate, and in the field.

    FIRST place feels good, even if it is with a .500 record!

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    8 minutes ago, Nashvilletwin said:

    ESPN said Buck’s walkoff measured 469ft - that has to be one of the longest HRs at Target Field, yes?

    According to Baseball Savants, Buxton's is tied with Miguel Sano and Nelson Cruz for the 8th furthest since 2015. Top 3:

    Sano: 496

    Sano: 495

    Vargas(!): 483

     

    Jim Thome hit one in 2011 that went 490 ft.

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    5 minutes ago, h2oface said:

    In a lament....... it sure would be nice to have CJ Cron at first right now instead of Sano. Sano is just painful to watch, at the plate, and in the field.

    Such a strange comment in otherwise grounded post. Cron hasn't been a Twin for 3 years. We can play let's cherry pick former Twins all day long....

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    27 minutes ago, h2oface said:

    In a lament....... it sure would be nice to have CJ Cron at first right now instead of Sano. Sano is just painful to watch, at the plate, and in the field.

    FIRST place feels good, even if it is with a .500 record!

    Looking at numbers from last year, it would be nice to have Cron and Schoop on the team.

    Polanco at 2nd is good, but Cron at First would be nice .

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    51 minutes ago, Squirrel said:

    I don't recall Buxton ever being this animated, showing how much of a leader he is. Shades of Kirby's 'jump on my back' ... it seems like either he's just really, finally, coming into his own, or what? But it seems he's found a missing component

    Seems that between the extension and the lack of clear veteran clubhouse leader, he's simply stepped into that role.  It's fun to see, that is for sure.

    He knows that it's his team now.  

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    How fun. We have the Buxton we dreamed of and he's healthy. We have Arraez doing what we expect from him. Winder is looking like the pitcher we had hoped and I'm ready to put archer in the bullpen.

    It's fun to have the team doing what we had expected. The Central division looks pretty interesting again.

    The White Sox once again show why Fielding is underrated. It is such an important part of the game and too often overlooked. Of course I'm looking at the Phillies when I say that.

     

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    Being very selfish here, but it feels really good being rewarded with such an excellent victory today after I invested my whole afternoon watching this game.  

    For anyone wondering, this is the 1st time the Twins have been at .500 since April 13th, 2021, which was in the midst of a 3 game losing streak.

    A few observations to make:

    1.  Buxton...nothing to add than hasn't been covered.  Just stay humble young man, eat your vitamins and stay HEALTHY!

    2.  Star 1B to today's Twins win----------I would submit the excellent performance of Josh Winder:  4IP only 3 hits, 1 ER and 0 walks.  That allowed Rocco to avoid others (thank goodness) to go to Duran in the 8th.

    Others may not agree, but I truly believe Winder will be a productive mainstay in our rotation for years to come.  That may be coming as early as this season if Archer's command (only 32 strikes over 61 pitches in his 3 IP) doesn't improve very soon.

    3.  Johan Duran:  This dude is special.  Note to Rocco and Wes Johnson:  Leave him in bullpen.  With Alcala out for extended time combined with Duffey's continued struggles, Duran has to be there to hold games tied or protect a lead.

    4.  Joe Smith:  Just the type of aggressive type of RP I like with a funky delivery that produces.  Can't overuse him though.

    5.  Urshela:  Gio is looking like he's settling in at the plate. 2-3 today with a BB along with his great play at 3B.  He should play everyday.  With Miranda looming at SP, Gio has responded.

    6.  Kepler:  1 of my main "whipping boys" for the last 2 years plus, but maybe he's turning a corner.  Sure would like him to regain his power stroke from 2019, but his .300 slug pct. is an issue.

    7.  Sano:  Not much to say other than I hope Kirilloff can show he can hit soon so he can take over at 1B.  Sano is nothing more than a bench player against RH pitching.  A possible DH against a LH SP.

    8.  Garlick:  Ugh.  He needs to be DFA'ed soon.  Celestino offers much more.

    9.  Rocco:  Sorry to end on a negative note, but I have to question his absolute refusal to pinch hit Correa late in the game!!   I will give Rocco the benefit of the doubt not pinch hitting Correa for Goday due to the health issues of Sanchez and Jeffers, but I would really like to hear his answer of why he refused to pinch hit for Gordon in the bottom of the 9th with Kepler (good speed) on 2nd base???  Did Rocco forget that Gordon had already whiffed 3x earlier in game?? With an off day tomorrow, I just don't understand his reasoning for keeping Correa's bat on the bench.

     

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    Buxton is always absolutely amazing. He affects all aspects of the game true MVP caliber. Still waiting for Polanco & Correa to turn it around and help lead the team but with Buxton carring the team we can afford to be patient. I have to say that Baldelli called a good BP selection. Winder, Duran and Smith pitched great. Although I'd question why he'd rest Correa on such important game and why he feels the need to get Garlick in the game and compromise the defense.

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    1 hour ago, Nashvilletwin said:

    ESPN said Buck’s walkoff measured 469ft - that has to be one of the longest HRs at Target Field, yes?

    And that was on a 45° day. That ball goes significantly farther on a warm humid afternoon.

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