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  1. A great pitching performance was not enough. The Twins offense wasted too many opportunities to score, despite producing a lot of baserunners. The Cubs, making their first trip to Target Field in six years, take game one of the interleague series. Box Score John Gant: 5.0 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 5 K (64% strikes) Home Runs: None Bottom 3 WPA: Kepler -.209, Buxton -.148, Simmons -.144 Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Each team scored a run in the first inning. John Gant, who’s trying to make a case for himself to be a part of the 2022 starting rotation, nearly had an uneventful top of the first. Standing in the way was Frank Schwindel, who jumped on the first pitch he saw to make it 1-0 Cubs. But that lead didn’t last long. Luis Arraez opened up the bottom of the inning with a leadoff double, snapping an 0-for-16 slump. Byron Buxton followed up with a single to move Arraez to third, and Jorge Polanco pushed him across with a sac-fly, tying the game. Since we mentioned Buxton, get a load of what he did during the second inning: The Cubs still managed to score their leadoff runner that same inning, after Robinson Chirinos hit a blast to center field and Brent Rooker couldn’t field it at the warning track. The ball apparently hit him on the leg and rolled away from Buxton. Matt Duffy scored, and Chirinos reached third very easily, giving Chicago back the lead. Minnesota threatened again, in the bottom half, with men in the corners with no outs. But this time, they ended up empty-handed. After a busy first couple of innings, both pitchers settled down and dominated opposing pitchers. Gant finished off his start with a perfect second time through the order – three consecutive 1-2-3 innings. He didn’t walk a single batter all night. Unfortunately for the Twins, Cubs starter Zach Davies also put away nine batters in a row, starting in the second inning. It was not until the fifth that the Twins would have baserunners again. Both of them ended up being stranded. Juan Minaya came in relief of Gant and faced the minimum in the sixth. However, he couldn’t keep up the good work during the seventh when he loaded the bases with no outs, forcing Rocco Baldelli to pull him from the game. Tyler Duffey took the mound and did a fantastic job, striking out the side on 16 pitches. This was the first time since May 29 (third overall) that Duffey pitched at least one scoreless inning with three strikeouts. With his outing tonight, he posted a 2.25 ERA in August. Meanwhile, the offense kept struggling against Cubs pitching. They stranded a pair of runners in the bottom of the seventh, at which point they had accumulated five men left on base and were 1-for-7 with men in scoring position. Chicago’s offense, on the other hand, extended their lead in the eighth, with Ian Happ hitting a monstrous third deck home run to left, which gave the Cubs a two-run lead, 3-1. The Twins tried to start a rally during the eighth, loading the bases with singles by Arraez and Polanco, and a walk by Donaldson. With only one out, Max Kepler hit a bloop to shallow right, and Arraez decided to tag up, but Duffy made a perfect throw home to get him, giving Chicago an inning-ending double play. Ralph Garza Jr. kept Minnesota’s hopes alive by pitching a scoreless ninth, but the offense went down in order in the bottom half. Despite losing tonight, the Twins still end up August with a winning record (14-13), the first time this has happened this season. They face the games again this Wednesday (9/1), at 7:10 pm CT, with Joe Ryan set to make his big-league debut. Check out Tom Froemming's video recap of tonight's Twins action! Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet FRI SAT SUN MON TUE TOT Albers 88 0 0 0 0 88 Colomé 13 13 0 23 0 49 Thielbar 0 23 0 0 26 49 Minaya 0 17 0 0 24 41 Alcalá 12 0 0 25 0 37 Gibaut 0 0 33 0 0 33 Garza Jr. 0 0 11 0 17 28 Duffey 6 0 0 0 16 22 Coulombe 20 0 0 0 0 20 View full article
  2. Box Score John Gant: 5.0 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 5 K (64% strikes) Home Runs: None Bottom 3 WPA: Kepler -.209, Buxton -.148, Simmons -.144 Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Each team scored a run in the first inning. John Gant, who’s trying to make a case for himself to be a part of the 2022 starting rotation, nearly had an uneventful top of the first. Standing in the way was Frank Schwindel, who jumped on the first pitch he saw to make it 1-0 Cubs. But that lead didn’t last long. Luis Arraez opened up the bottom of the inning with a leadoff double, snapping an 0-for-16 slump. Byron Buxton followed up with a single to move Arraez to third, and Jorge Polanco pushed him across with a sac-fly, tying the game. Since we mentioned Buxton, get a load of what he did during the second inning: The Cubs still managed to score their leadoff runner that same inning, after Robinson Chirinos hit a blast to center field and Brent Rooker couldn’t field it at the warning track. The ball apparently hit him on the leg and rolled away from Buxton. Matt Duffy scored, and Chirinos reached third very easily, giving Chicago back the lead. Minnesota threatened again, in the bottom half, with men in the corners with no outs. But this time, they ended up empty-handed. After a busy first couple of innings, both pitchers settled down and dominated opposing pitchers. Gant finished off his start with a perfect second time through the order – three consecutive 1-2-3 innings. He didn’t walk a single batter all night. Unfortunately for the Twins, Cubs starter Zach Davies also put away nine batters in a row, starting in the second inning. It was not until the fifth that the Twins would have baserunners again. Both of them ended up being stranded. Juan Minaya came in relief of Gant and faced the minimum in the sixth. However, he couldn’t keep up the good work during the seventh when he loaded the bases with no outs, forcing Rocco Baldelli to pull him from the game. Tyler Duffey took the mound and did a fantastic job, striking out the side on 16 pitches. This was the first time since May 29 (third overall) that Duffey pitched at least one scoreless inning with three strikeouts. With his outing tonight, he posted a 2.25 ERA in August. Meanwhile, the offense kept struggling against Cubs pitching. They stranded a pair of runners in the bottom of the seventh, at which point they had accumulated five men left on base and were 1-for-7 with men in scoring position. Chicago’s offense, on the other hand, extended their lead in the eighth, with Ian Happ hitting a monstrous third deck home run to left, which gave the Cubs a two-run lead, 3-1. The Twins tried to start a rally during the eighth, loading the bases with singles by Arraez and Polanco, and a walk by Donaldson. With only one out, Max Kepler hit a bloop to shallow right, and Arraez decided to tag up, but Duffy made a perfect throw home to get him, giving Chicago an inning-ending double play. Ralph Garza Jr. kept Minnesota’s hopes alive by pitching a scoreless ninth, but the offense went down in order in the bottom half. Despite losing tonight, the Twins still end up August with a winning record (14-13), the first time this has happened this season. They face the games again this Wednesday (9/1), at 7:10 pm CT, with Joe Ryan set to make his big-league debut. Check out Tom Froemming's video recap of tonight's Twins action! Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet FRI SAT SUN MON TUE TOT Albers 88 0 0 0 0 88 Colomé 13 13 0 23 0 49 Thielbar 0 23 0 0 26 49 Minaya 0 17 0 0 24 41 Alcalá 12 0 0 25 0 37 Gibaut 0 0 33 0 0 33 Garza Jr. 0 0 11 0 17 28 Duffey 6 0 0 0 16 22 Coulombe 20 0 0 0 0 20
  3. I have believed for some time that the Twins need to augment the pitchers they have in the bullpen and I still believe that. However, I certainly like what I see in Magill and Duffey. First of all, there's plenty of velocity for the reinvented Duffey and also Magill. Their numbers look good so far this year. I do want to see them perform in higher leverage situations, before I'm sold, but signs are promising. Harper has also been very good and seems to be the choice to replace Hildenerger in the bullpen rotation, but I wonder if his effectiveness will diminish as the league learns about him. I thought May would perhaps be the guy to step forward, but so far I'm haven't seen enough to believe in him. The team's insanely good stretch won't last forever, so I'm sure we'll see the bullpen tested. I do want to see how it holds up before a lot of assets are spent on a bullpen guy.
  4. Tyler Duffey is one of my favorite Twins, I won't hide from that fact. His mind-bending array of curve balls has my tender heart all aflutter. At the same time, I admit he's not a perfect pitcher. As much as his benders bend, his modest heater tends to be straight as a ruler, and his two-seamer is so-so. However, something has changed since Duffey retreated to the bullpen. Mainly, he discovered that he could increase the angle of his pitches to right handed batters by starting from the 3rd base side of the rubber. Suddenly his benders sweep almost impossibly far, like we see from legendary lefties. Suddenly he can throw his curve right at the front knee of a hitter, and it breaks past the plate, to the far side. Most hitters cannot make themselves keep their knee in the path of a ball traveling over 80 mph. The result is some gloriously clumsy swings as hitters are bailing and flailing helplessly. It's hard to cover the plate when your butt is flying the other way. Duffey's new trick also helps his fastball, which still isn't amazing, but now, when he throws it inside, the hitter has to wonder, will it bend a foot, or go straight? Is this ball going to hit my knee? This makes Duffey's inside fastballs much more intimidating. The overall impact of this change is that Duffey appears to have solved the problem that was preventing him from being a successful starter. He now appears to be reasonably effective against hitters on both sides of the plate. So, should the Twins test the waters of letting Duffey start, one more time? I believe they should. On the other hand, Duffey also is the team's most flexible relief pitcher, so maybe he's this season's Trevor May. Also, I have noticed another relief pitcher that is starting to look like a possible starter: Taylor Rogers. This young man appears to be filling out his frame, and his stuff appears more and more like something you might like in a starting pitcher. For the same reason as Duffey, Rogers may wind up sticking in the pen for now. The team needs reliable relievers as much as good starters.
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