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  1. A bleak year for the Minnesota Twins didn't cloud the incredible efforts of one player. Congrats to Jorge Polanco on being named our MVP for the 2021 season! Other Twins Daily 2021 Award Winners Twins Daily 2021 Awards: Most Improved Twins Daily 2021 Awards: Pitcher of the Year Twins Daily 2021 Awards: Rookie of the Year Even the gleaming optimist would struggle to tally a fruitful list of positives from the Twins rocky 2021 season. Let's face it, 2021 was a wash. Players underperformed, a cesspool of injuries plagued, and the team as a whole fell mountains short of preseason expectations. There's plenty of content out there about the ladder issues. Yet as an optimist myself, it would be cruel not to highlight some of brilliant performances that took place in a deeply-needed 'normal' year of Major League Baseball for the Minnesota Twins. Losing sucks, but at the end of the day there are reasons for Twins fans to be optimistic. The players below prove why. Honorable Mention for Twins Daily 2021 Most Valuable Player (listed in reverse order of votes received) 3B Josh Donaldson (18 Votes) After a less-than-ideal first season with the Twins, Donaldson was stellar this season. The Bringer of Rain posted a 3.2 Offensive WAR and was an extra-base hit machine, tallying 26 homers and 26 doubles. Donaldson's .247 batting average doesn't do justice for how impactful he was in the Twins lineup. On top of that, his defense was rock-solid, as demonstrated by his 2.2 Defensive War. Will Donaldson remain a Twin for the final two years of his four-ear contract? Given his impact this year, I sure hope he does, When healthy, the man is a force on both sides of the ball. CF Byron Buxton (33 Votes) If it weren't for the injury-crutch there's a good chance that Buxton would be atop this list...and atop standings for league-wide awards. In just 61 games Buxton slashed .306/.358/.647 (1.005) with 72 hits (23 doubles), 19 homers, and 32 RBI. Arguably the fastest player in baseball, Buxton stole nine bases on 10 attempts and was as Buxton-esque as ever patrolling center field at Target Field. There's a lot of speculation regarding Buxton's future in Minnesota. Yes, health is an issue but my goodness, if you can't see that Buxton is a generational player, please open your eyes. Also Receiving Votes: Baily Ober (13), Luis Arraez (12), Jose Berrios (8), Michael Pineda (6), Nelson Cruz (4), Taylor Rogers (4), Max Kepler (1), Caleb Thielbar (2) Twins Daily 2021 MVP: 2B Jorge Polanco (50) Mention Jorge Polanco's name to Twins fans a year ago and one would likely be met with discouragement and vitriol. My oh my have the tables turned. While the whole Andrelton Simmons project at shortstop didn't exactly work out, Polanco's shift to second base rejuvenated the former all-star with the caliber of elite performance that we all knew he was capable of. Polanco finished the 2021 season with a .269/.323/.503 (.826) slash line, knocking 158 hits, 97 runs, 33 home runs, and 98 RBI. The speedy infielder also stole 11 bases in 17 attempts and touted a team-leading 4.8 offensive WAR. Polanco was a beacon of light all season for the Twins offense. After a slow April, Polanco's batting average hovered in excellency each month as the season progressed. And despite a subpar September (.245/.273/.547), Polanco still managed to knock eight homers (only second to his nine HR in August) and compile 58 total bases (26 H, 8 2B, 4 BB). Polanco's 33 homers put him fourth on the list amongst all MLB second basemen. The 28-year-old also ranks fourth at the position for RBI (98), and fifth for slugging percentage (.503). Coming off of his eighth season with the organization it's clear that Polanco is a player that the Twins are comfortable investing in. If that wasn't the case they would have taken advantage of numerous opportunities to trade him away. The investment has paid off, yet there's still work to be done. Polanco posted a defensive WAR of 0.7 this season and totaled a .961 Fielding Percentage with 17 errors (15 at 2B). Those numbers are solid but aren't going to win any Gold Gloves. Yet that misses the point of the greater picture. Polanco looked infinitely more confident at second base compared to his days at shortstop. There's a great chance that the confidence in the field correlated directly to his enormous year at the plate. Baseball is an incredibly difficult sport on the mental side of the game and Polanco's newfound confidence is a huge win for the future of the Twins organization. At the end of the day Polanco truly was the most valued player on this season's roster. He stayed healthy (in comparison to others), was a staple in the field, and hit for power and consistency from both sides of the plate. Hopefully the Twins can wrangle up a high-quality shortstop to complement Polanco up the middle. If so, the Twins could have one of the stronger infields in all of MLB. How do you feel about the choice of Jorge Polanco as the teams Most Valuable Player in 2021? View full article
  2. Other Twins Daily 2021 Award Winners Twins Daily 2021 Awards: Most Improved Twins Daily 2021 Awards: Pitcher of the Year Twins Daily 2021 Awards: Rookie of the Year Even the gleaming optimist would struggle to tally a fruitful list of positives from the Twins rocky 2021 season. Let's face it, 2021 was a wash. Players underperformed, a cesspool of injuries plagued, and the team as a whole fell mountains short of preseason expectations. There's plenty of content out there about the ladder issues. Yet as an optimist myself, it would be cruel not to highlight some of brilliant performances that took place in a deeply-needed 'normal' year of Major League Baseball for the Minnesota Twins. Losing sucks, but at the end of the day there are reasons for Twins fans to be optimistic. The players below prove why. Honorable Mention for Twins Daily 2021 Most Valuable Player (listed in reverse order of votes received) 3B Josh Donaldson (18 Votes) After a less-than-ideal first season with the Twins, Donaldson was stellar this season. The Bringer of Rain posted a 3.2 Offensive WAR and was an extra-base hit machine, tallying 26 homers and 26 doubles. Donaldson's .247 batting average doesn't do justice for how impactful he was in the Twins lineup. On top of that, his defense was rock-solid, as demonstrated by his 2.2 Defensive War. Will Donaldson remain a Twin for the final two years of his four-ear contract? Given his impact this year, I sure hope he does, When healthy, the man is a force on both sides of the ball. CF Byron Buxton (33 Votes) If it weren't for the injury-crutch there's a good chance that Buxton would be atop this list...and atop standings for league-wide awards. In just 61 games Buxton slashed .306/.358/.647 (1.005) with 72 hits (23 doubles), 19 homers, and 32 RBI. Arguably the fastest player in baseball, Buxton stole nine bases on 10 attempts and was as Buxton-esque as ever patrolling center field at Target Field. There's a lot of speculation regarding Buxton's future in Minnesota. Yes, health is an issue but my goodness, if you can't see that Buxton is a generational player, please open your eyes. Also Receiving Votes: Baily Ober (13), Luis Arraez (12), Jose Berrios (8), Michael Pineda (6), Nelson Cruz (4), Taylor Rogers (4), Max Kepler (1), Caleb Thielbar (2) Twins Daily 2021 MVP: 2B Jorge Polanco (50) Mention Jorge Polanco's name to Twins fans a year ago and one would likely be met with discouragement and vitriol. My oh my have the tables turned. While the whole Andrelton Simmons project at shortstop didn't exactly work out, Polanco's shift to second base rejuvenated the former all-star with the caliber of elite performance that we all knew he was capable of. Polanco finished the 2021 season with a .269/.323/.503 (.826) slash line, knocking 158 hits, 97 runs, 33 home runs, and 98 RBI. The speedy infielder also stole 11 bases in 17 attempts and touted a team-leading 4.8 offensive WAR. Polanco was a beacon of light all season for the Twins offense. After a slow April, Polanco's batting average hovered in excellency each month as the season progressed. And despite a subpar September (.245/.273/.547), Polanco still managed to knock eight homers (only second to his nine HR in August) and compile 58 total bases (26 H, 8 2B, 4 BB). Polanco's 33 homers put him fourth on the list amongst all MLB second basemen. The 28-year-old also ranks fourth at the position for RBI (98), and fifth for slugging percentage (.503). Coming off of his eighth season with the organization it's clear that Polanco is a player that the Twins are comfortable investing in. If that wasn't the case they would have taken advantage of numerous opportunities to trade him away. The investment has paid off, yet there's still work to be done. Polanco posted a defensive WAR of 0.7 this season and totaled a .961 Fielding Percentage with 17 errors (15 at 2B). Those numbers are solid but aren't going to win any Gold Gloves. Yet that misses the point of the greater picture. Polanco looked infinitely more confident at second base compared to his days at shortstop. There's a great chance that the confidence in the field correlated directly to his enormous year at the plate. Baseball is an incredibly difficult sport on the mental side of the game and Polanco's newfound confidence is a huge win for the future of the Twins organization. At the end of the day Polanco truly was the most valued player on this season's roster. He stayed healthy (in comparison to others), was a staple in the field, and hit for power and consistency from both sides of the plate. Hopefully the Twins can wrangle up a high-quality shortstop to complement Polanco up the middle. If so, the Twins could have one of the stronger infields in all of MLB. How do you feel about the choice of Jorge Polanco as the teams Most Valuable Player in 2021?
  3. Each of the past two seasons, the AL Central Division winner has faced the Houston Astros. For the second straight season, Dusty Baker’s club has had the upper hand. Is there more to it than circumstance? Last season the Minnesota Twins played Houston in a three-game series and was swept, scoring just two runs in 18 innings of work. The 2020 club wasn’t the 2019 Bomba Squad, but they still won the division over Chicago and Cleveland while playing at a 97-win clip. The Twins looked well-positioned, with Kenta Maeda pitching like a Cy Young and Jose Berrios being a formidable starter in his own right. The lineup was still plenty scary, and distancing themselves from an insufferable Postseason losing streak was no doubt the goal. That didn’t happen. Unfortunately, they needed to break in rookie Alex Kirilloff out of necessity, and star third basemen Josh Donaldson couldn’t go. Jorge Polanco made a critical throwing error, and the Twins were done in mainly by their ineffectiveness. This season, they were expected to compete for a third straight division title, but after fumbling out of the gate, the Chicago White Sox represented the Central against the same foe. This time around, a Chicago team looked plenty capable of knocking off Houston but yet has thus far suffered the same fate. Lance Lynn and Lucas Giolito should both get Cy Young votes this season. Along with Carlos Rodon, the South Siders have a trio of talented arms. Defense isn’t Tony La Russa’s club’s calling card, but the lineup is plenty potent. With Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert back, Jose Abreu and Yasmani Grandal get help with the heavy lifting. It shouldn’t have been expected to go this way, but now down 2-0, Chicago is backed up against the wall. They won’t have a pitching advantage in game three but will get the game back at home. Barring a miraculous three-in-a-row run, the Central division winner will bow out quickly for the second year in a row. I’ve seen it suggested that the White Sox, and probably Minnesota last season, are just division-winning good. The AL Central was expected to be down this year, and given the Twins performance, it wasn’t as top-heavy as expected, but it’s hardly the doldrums of baseball. No team in the Central lost 90 games, the Royals got off to a strong start, and the Tigers finished playing good baseball. While the group as a whole didn’t have a herculean frontrunner, there’s no denying it played competitive baseball on a nightly basis. Suggesting that the White Sox weren’t in the same tier as Houston falls on deaf ears for this writer. The lineup, rotation, and pieces of the pen can compete with anyone. I think the Astros are being slept on some as they look to fly under the radar following the fallout of their cheating scandal. What takes place in a five-game series doesn’t define the body of work necessary to reach this point. Chicago dealt with some of the most crippling injuries this season and still ripped off 93 wins. Minnesota battled through a weird year a season ago and lost two in a row at the wrong time. Houston is good, the Central is OK, and the only problem may be Chicago returning this core next season. The Twins, and everyone else, are on notice. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  4. Last season the Minnesota Twins played Houston in a three-game series and was swept, scoring just two runs in 18 innings of work. The 2020 club wasn’t the 2019 Bomba Squad, but they still won the division over Chicago and Cleveland while playing at a 97-win clip. The Twins looked well-positioned, with Kenta Maeda pitching like a Cy Young and Jose Berrios being a formidable starter in his own right. The lineup was still plenty scary, and distancing themselves from an insufferable Postseason losing streak was no doubt the goal. That didn’t happen. Unfortunately, they needed to break in rookie Alex Kirilloff out of necessity, and star third basemen Josh Donaldson couldn’t go. Jorge Polanco made a critical throwing error, and the Twins were done in mainly by their ineffectiveness. This season, they were expected to compete for a third straight division title, but after fumbling out of the gate, the Chicago White Sox represented the Central against the same foe. This time around, a Chicago team looked plenty capable of knocking off Houston but yet has thus far suffered the same fate. Lance Lynn and Lucas Giolito should both get Cy Young votes this season. Along with Carlos Rodon, the South Siders have a trio of talented arms. Defense isn’t Tony La Russa’s club’s calling card, but the lineup is plenty potent. With Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert back, Jose Abreu and Yasmani Grandal get help with the heavy lifting. It shouldn’t have been expected to go this way, but now down 2-0, Chicago is backed up against the wall. They won’t have a pitching advantage in game three but will get the game back at home. Barring a miraculous three-in-a-row run, the Central division winner will bow out quickly for the second year in a row. I’ve seen it suggested that the White Sox, and probably Minnesota last season, are just division-winning good. The AL Central was expected to be down this year, and given the Twins performance, it wasn’t as top-heavy as expected, but it’s hardly the doldrums of baseball. No team in the Central lost 90 games, the Royals got off to a strong start, and the Tigers finished playing good baseball. While the group as a whole didn’t have a herculean frontrunner, there’s no denying it played competitive baseball on a nightly basis. Suggesting that the White Sox weren’t in the same tier as Houston falls on deaf ears for this writer. The lineup, rotation, and pieces of the pen can compete with anyone. I think the Astros are being slept on some as they look to fly under the radar following the fallout of their cheating scandal. What takes place in a five-game series doesn’t define the body of work necessary to reach this point. Chicago dealt with some of the most crippling injuries this season and still ripped off 93 wins. Minnesota battled through a weird year a season ago and lost two in a row at the wrong time. Houston is good, the Central is OK, and the only problem may be Chicago returning this core next season. The Twins, and everyone else, are on notice. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  5. On Wednesday, Twins Daily unveiled Baily Ober as our Minnesota Twins Rookie of the Year. Today, we extend our congratulations to Jorge Polanco for claiming the Most Improved honor. But before we get to Polanco, let's discuss those athletes who finished just short. HONORABLE MENTIONS Byron Buxton, CF: 61 G, .306/.358/.647, 23 2B, 19 HR, 9 SB, 4.2 fWAR, 169 wRC+ Jorge Alcala, RHP: 59 2/3 IP, 3.92 ERA, 61 K, 14 BB, 10 HR allowed, 90 ERA- Byron Buxton would have undoubtedly landed in the top spot on this list had he stayed healthy, but even still, one could argue that he should have placed in the top three. (Full discloser: Buxton received my top vote.) No one in the history of the Minnesota Twins has ever performed better overall than Buxton did throughout his 61 games. His 4.2 fWAR and 169 wRC+ led the team by a significant margin, with only Jorge Polanco's and arguably Mitch Garver's advanced metrics able to hold a candle to what he put forth (*hint hint*). Alcala, on the other hand, finished the season strongly after getting off to a slow start. He allowed only eight earned runs in 25 innings following the All-Star break while striking out 30 and walking five. His performance in September and October was particularly encouraging as he surrendered only a single run and struck out 15 of the 44 batters he faced. Had his first half of the season not been a relative stinker (4.67 ERA, 3.9 K:BB ratio), he maybe would have squeezed into the top three. Show: Caleb Thielbar, LHP 64 IP, 3.23 ERA, 77 K, 21 BB, 8 HR allowed, 75 ERA-, 0.9 fWAR It would be difficult to find a better story among the 2021 Twins roster than that of Caleb Thielbar. An 18th-round pick out of South Dakota State in the 2009 draft by the Milwaukee Brewers, Thielbar posted career-highs in virtually every statistical category en route to putting together the best season of his career at age 34. Thielbar was arguably the team's top performer overall out of the pen, placing third in ERA- (Tyler Duffey, 73; Juan Minaya, 57) and second in fWAR (Taylor Rogers, 1.6) among the relievers who threw at least 40 innings. He was able to accomplish the feats due in large part to possessing one of the best fastball-slider combinations in the game. While he is arguably more well-known for his borderline-eephus curveball, which sits in the upper-60s, Thielbar's fastball and slider accounted for most of his outs this past summer. The four-seam fastball has always been his most utilized pitch — it accounted for 49% of the offerings to batters in 2021 — Thielbar more than doubled the use of his slider compared to 2020 while cutting his curveball usage nearly in half, according to Baseball Savant. Opposing batters could not figure out his slider as they slugged a meager .296 and struck out 19 times. It registered an average of 14.4 inches of horizontal break in 2021, which was a whopping 5.4 inches above average. Similarly, they couldn't touch his fastball with regularity despite it sitting in the low-90s. Thielbar's heater was worth a Run Value of -12, meaning it theoretically allowed 12 fewer runs over the course of the season compared to an average fastball. Thielbar's 2021 performance showed that his 2020 season wasn't a fluke and cemented himself a prominent role during 2022. Runner-Up: Mitch Garver, C 68 G, .256/.358/.517, 15 2B, 13 HR, 2.1 fWAR, 137 wRC+ 2021 Mitch Garver was a facsimile of 2019 Mitch Garver, which should be encouraging to Twins fans; the only blemish on his otherwise great season was a plethora of injuries that limited him to only 68 games. The reason for Garver's turnaround from a disastrous 2020 that saw him slash .167/.247/.264 in 23 games? He remembered how to hit fastballs. Not only did Garver hit fastballs in 2021, he destroyed them to the tune of a .688 slugging percentage with 10 home runs and 10 doubles. These numbers approximate his .829, 25, and 12 rates from the juiced-ball 2019 season, re-establishing him as one of the most powerful catchers in MLB Garver will likely enter the 2022 season as the team's primary catcher and will once again split time with Ryan Jeffers, barring an offseason trade. There's little reason to doubt that he can't put forth a similarly strong season if he can remain healthy, and doing so would make the Twins' offense that much scarier. Winner: Jorge Polanco, 2B 152 G, .269/.323/.503, 35 2B, 33 HR, 11 SB, 3.9 fWAR, 122 wRC+ Jorge Polanco was the Twins' best player, and he put together arguably his best season one year after ankle injuries debilitated him to the degree that many wondered if he'd be long for the team. Polanco became the first Twins' second baseman not named Brian Dozier to eclipse the 30 homer mark in a season, and his 35 doubles were the most on the team by nearly double-digits; Josh Donaldson's 26 came in second. His numbers would have looked even better had he not hit .237 with a near 7:1 K:BB ratio during the final month of the season. Polanco's meteoric rise from light-hitting albeit promising prospect to an All-Star-caliber, 30-home run middle infielder has been a joyous surprise to watch. His 2021 season reinvigorated his status in the fans' minds and likely the front office as well, as he figures to again be a staple of the Twins' lineup for years to come. Others receiving votes: Rob Refsnyder, Juan Minaya, Danny Coulombe, Miguel Sano, Nick Gordon, Taylor Rogers, Bailey Ober MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook, or email — Read more from Lucas here View full article
  6. But before we get to Polanco, let's discuss those athletes who finished just short. HONORABLE MENTIONS Byron Buxton, CF: 61 G, .306/.358/.647, 23 2B, 19 HR, 9 SB, 4.2 fWAR, 169 wRC+ Jorge Alcala, RHP: 59 2/3 IP, 3.92 ERA, 61 K, 14 BB, 10 HR allowed, 90 ERA- Byron Buxton would have undoubtedly landed in the top spot on this list had he stayed healthy, but even still, one could argue that he should have placed in the top three. (Full discloser: Buxton received my top vote.) No one in the history of the Minnesota Twins has ever performed better overall than Buxton did throughout his 61 games. His 4.2 fWAR and 169 wRC+ led the team by a significant margin, with only Jorge Polanco's and arguably Mitch Garver's advanced metrics able to hold a candle to what he put forth (*hint hint*). Alcala, on the other hand, finished the season strongly after getting off to a slow start. He allowed only eight earned runs in 25 innings following the All-Star break while striking out 30 and walking five. His performance in September and October was particularly encouraging as he surrendered only a single run and struck out 15 of the 44 batters he faced. Had his first half of the season not been a relative stinker (4.67 ERA, 3.9 K:BB ratio), he maybe would have squeezed into the top three. Show: Caleb Thielbar, LHP 64 IP, 3.23 ERA, 77 K, 21 BB, 8 HR allowed, 75 ERA-, 0.9 fWAR It would be difficult to find a better story among the 2021 Twins roster than that of Caleb Thielbar. An 18th-round pick out of South Dakota State in the 2009 draft by the Milwaukee Brewers, Thielbar posted career-highs in virtually every statistical category en route to putting together the best season of his career at age 34. Thielbar was arguably the team's top performer overall out of the pen, placing third in ERA- (Tyler Duffey, 73; Juan Minaya, 57) and second in fWAR (Taylor Rogers, 1.6) among the relievers who threw at least 40 innings. He was able to accomplish the feats due in large part to possessing one of the best fastball-slider combinations in the game. While he is arguably more well-known for his borderline-eephus curveball, which sits in the upper-60s, Thielbar's fastball and slider accounted for most of his outs this past summer. The four-seam fastball has always been his most utilized pitch — it accounted for 49% of the offerings to batters in 2021 — Thielbar more than doubled the use of his slider compared to 2020 while cutting his curveball usage nearly in half, according to Baseball Savant. Opposing batters could not figure out his slider as they slugged a meager .296 and struck out 19 times. It registered an average of 14.4 inches of horizontal break in 2021, which was a whopping 5.4 inches above average. Similarly, they couldn't touch his fastball with regularity despite it sitting in the low-90s. Thielbar's heater was worth a Run Value of -12, meaning it theoretically allowed 12 fewer runs over the course of the season compared to an average fastball. Thielbar's 2021 performance showed that his 2020 season wasn't a fluke and cemented himself a prominent role during 2022. Runner-Up: Mitch Garver, C 68 G, .256/.358/.517, 15 2B, 13 HR, 2.1 fWAR, 137 wRC+ 2021 Mitch Garver was a facsimile of 2019 Mitch Garver, which should be encouraging to Twins fans; the only blemish on his otherwise great season was a plethora of injuries that limited him to only 68 games. The reason for Garver's turnaround from a disastrous 2020 that saw him slash .167/.247/.264 in 23 games? He remembered how to hit fastballs. Not only did Garver hit fastballs in 2021, he destroyed them to the tune of a .688 slugging percentage with 10 home runs and 10 doubles. These numbers approximate his .829, 25, and 12 rates from the juiced-ball 2019 season, re-establishing him as one of the most powerful catchers in MLB Garver will likely enter the 2022 season as the team's primary catcher and will once again split time with Ryan Jeffers, barring an offseason trade. There's little reason to doubt that he can't put forth a similarly strong season if he can remain healthy, and doing so would make the Twins' offense that much scarier. Winner: Jorge Polanco, 2B 152 G, .269/.323/.503, 35 2B, 33 HR, 11 SB, 3.9 fWAR, 122 wRC+ Jorge Polanco was the Twins' best player, and he put together arguably his best season one year after ankle injuries debilitated him to the degree that many wondered if he'd be long for the team. Polanco became the first Twins' second baseman not named Brian Dozier to eclipse the 30 homer mark in a season, and his 35 doubles were the most on the team by nearly double-digits; Josh Donaldson's 26 came in second. His numbers would have looked even better had he not hit .237 with a near 7:1 K:BB ratio during the final month of the season. Polanco's meteoric rise from light-hitting albeit promising prospect to an All-Star-caliber, 30-home run middle infielder has been a joyous surprise to watch. His 2021 season reinvigorated his status in the fans' minds and likely the front office as well, as he figures to again be a staple of the Twins' lineup for years to come. Others receiving votes: Rob Refsnyder, Juan Minaya, Danny Coulombe, Miguel Sano, Nick Gordon, Taylor Rogers, Bailey Ober MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook, or email — Read more from Lucas here
  7. The Minnesota Twins 2021 season is now in the books, and most of us will be more than happy to leave it there. With that said, as a postmortem, I'd like to document six milestones that will define this immensely disappointing campaign when we look back at it. These are the lasting memorable moments from a forgettable year. April: That Loss in Oakland (4/21) In Twins lore, this was a game that will forever live in infamy. In fact, it probably needs a nickname for eternal reference. Bayside Blunderfest? Catastrophe in the Coliseum? The Oaktown Meltdown? Whatever you want to call it, this was the clear low point in a gut-punch of a first month for the Twins. I don't say so lightly, because there was no shortage of brutal blows from which to choose, but this game was the cream of the crap. It wasn't just the dire implications of that 13-12 result itself, sealing a sweep for the A's and marking Minnesota's ninth loss in 10 games. No, what made this one an L for the ages – to the extent you knew exactly which game I was talking about when you read "that loss in Oakland" – was the almost comically painful way in which it all unfolded. I won't torture you with a full recap, but the gist is this: With the team playing short-handed due to a COVID outbreak, Kenta Maeda digs a deep hole by allowing seven runs (an early sign something is amiss for the reigning Cy Young runner-up); the offense mounts a big rally; Byron Buxton attempts to will the team to victory single-handed with a huge catch and home run; and then ... Alex Colomé happens. As these Twins stumbled out of the gates and fell flat on their faces, Colomé was a deserving figurehead for the failure. The front office's big-ticket bullpen pickup was an incomprehensible disaster, repeatedly giving away games that were in hand. On this special occasion, he did so twice in a two-inning span! Minnesota led 9-8 heading into the bottom of the ninth when Colomé entered. He gave up a run. The game went to extras. Buxton launched a dramatic two-run homer in the 10th. Then Colomé promptly walked the bases loaded in the bottom half, and watched the infield defense implode behind him as the A's rallied to score three runs on back-to-back errors and walk it off. *chef's kiss* May: Twins Drop 12th Out of 15 Games (5/20) Damaging to our collective psyches as it may have been, the above game was not fatal to the team's hopes of contending. While a 6-11 start wasn't ideal, the Twins were padded by a strong first week. This was just a good team going through an ugly April funk ... right? Nah. Turns out they were just bad. From May 8th through May 20th they went 3-12, turning in lifeless outing after lifeless outing as their season crumbled into nothingness, a mere seven weeks after getting started. Prior to this stretch the Twins were modestly climbing toward .500; by the end they were 14-28, and 11 ½ games out of first place. The last of the dozen losses during this 16-day stretch – a 7-1 doubleheader matinee against the Angels – was not especially noteworthy, save for how typical it was. Lewis Thorpe made a spot start and got lit up. The bullpen was bad. The offense did nothing. It was obvious from early on the Twins were going nowhere in this one, which is a suitable summarization of their season as a whole. June: Buxton Breaks His Hand (6/21) As things devolved in the early weeks, there was one redeeming storyline for Twins fans. Buxton was playing out of his mind. In April he became the first Twins player to earn Player of the Month honors in more than a decade. Unlocking his long-simmering potential at last, the center fielder was a must-watch attraction on a team that was otherwise hard to stomach. In early May, a hip injury shut Buxton down, leading to more than a month on the Injured List. He returned in mid-June, fighting through obvious pain and physical limitation, but was nonetheless productive for three games. Then, a freaking fastball hit his hand and fractured it. The team's fate was already more or less sealed by this point, but seeing their most likable player suffer another unthinkable setback was almost too much to take. I'll never forget Rocco Baldelli's somber postgame press conference, which conveyed empathy for his snakebit center fielder, as well as a general sense of dazed bewilderment at the state of his club's shattered season. This was going to be the year Buxton pulled it all together. Instead, it'll go down as yet another fleeting glimmer of greatness. And perhaps his final hurrah in a Twins uniform. July: Berríos Dealt on Deadline Day (7/30) We've already seen that final hurrah from José Berríos, who was drafted the same year as Buxton and rose to similarly impressive heights. The blockbuster deal that sent Berríos to Toronto for two top prospects was among the most significant deadline trades in franchise history, and a bellwether moment. Trading Berríos affirmed a full-on changing of the guard, following the less surprising Nelson Cruz trade a week earlier. Factor in coinciding reports of fruitless extension negotiations with Buxton, and this year's deadline openly signaled an oncoming identity shift for the Twins. This changing identity was evident in the final two months, during which we'd see these Twins play some of their very best ball. August: Ober Blanks Boston at Fenway (8/25) No Berríos. No Cruz. No Maeda. No Taylor Rogers. And yet the Twins were a .500 team after the trade deadline. That's not anything to write home about but, all things considered, it's kind of eyebrow-raising. How'd they do it? Bailey Ober played a big part (figuratively and literally) in the quality results, and the long-term implications of his sudden ascent from organization filler to rotation fixture are difficult to overstate. The month of August saw Ober pitch to a 2.30 ERA and 27-to-3 K/BB ratio in 27 ⅓ innings. The Twins went 4-1 in his five starts. While veteran pitchers around him got injured, got traded, and got blown up, Ober remained steady, with his newfound velocity boost and 6-foot-9 frame proving a sustainable formula. His most memorable outing in an excellent month came in Boston on the 25th. One year prior, no one would've realistically expected Ober to be pitching in the big leagues, so the rookie must've been feeling some nerves as he took the mound against a powerhouse at legendary Fenway Park for his 15th MLB start. You would've never known it from the way he pitched. Ober tossed a leisurely five shutout innings, striking out seven and walking one. At this moment he's the presumed Opening Day starter in 2022. September: Polanco Tallies 4 Extra-Base Hits (9/6) While Ober's emergence as a rotation staple was the most consequential unexpected development of the 2021 season, Jorge Polanco's rejuvenated slugging prowess may be a close second. For better or worse, the Twins are contractually tied to Polanco through at least 2023, and that was tilting in the "or worse" direction when his punchless 2020 production spilled over to April. But as he became more comfortable on his twice-surgically-repaired ankle, and began to find his stride once again, Polanco's long-absent power came rushing back. Suddenly, the switch-slugging All-Star from early 2019 was back and better than ever. And this was no flash in the pan. Polanco consistently kept pounding baseballs for the rest of the season – reflected by the fact that his most memorable highlight arrived in September. On this day in Cleveland, Polanco tallied a season-high four of his 70 extra-base hits, doubling three times and homering in a 5-2 win. During the previous series in Tampa, he launched two home runs and two doubles. Five days later against the Royals, he'd go deep twice. Polanco relentlessly slugged and produced all the way through to the end, playing at an MVP level while the team around him acquiesced to sub-mediocrity. It's reminiscent, in some ways, of Brian Dozier in 2016. One year later, Dozier was the veteran star and leader on a team that shocked everyone, improving by 26 wins and reaching the postseason. A precedent that is perhaps worth carrying forward. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Preorder the Offseason Handbook — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  8. Jose Miranda has played in 123 games across the Minnesota Twins minor league system in 2021. He’s dominated both Double-A and Triple-A, but with just days left in the season, no promotion is coming. What lies ahead in 2022? Recently named the Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Year, the Twins Minor League Player of the Year, and the MLB Pipeline All-Prospect 1st Team, Miranda has picked up all of the accolades. It’s hard to be surprised, given his performance. For the season, he owns a .347/.403/.574 (.977) slash line along with 60 extra-base hits, of which 29 are home runs. His 73/41 K/BB rate suggests a strong eye and plate discipline ability, and despite the year with no minor league action, it’s hard to see anything but an immense amount of work put in. For a Minnesota Twins team that saw their season end essentially before it ever got off the ground, it’s worth wondering how Miranda wasn’t selected to see action at the big-league level. The role isn’t straightforward, though, and it’s something Derek Falvey and Rocco Baldelli will need to sort out for the year ahead. In 2021, Miranda played games at every infield position aside from catcher, and he even got three starts in left field. Primarily a third basemen, that role is currently occupied by Josh Donaldson, who has been one of the Twins better hitters and is signed to a large contract. Miranda is blocked at second base by one of the game’s best in Jorge Polanco, and he’s miscast playing shortstop. It appeared that the Twins wanted to see his abilities at first base, but that’s a role currently held down by Miguel Sano and likely Alex Kirilloff next season. So, where does he go? Had the Twins dealt Donaldson at the trade deadline, it essentially would’ve been to swing a cash dump. Donaldson, and more notably his contract, will never net the Twins anything close to an equal value. Given his uptick in production, it made sense to keep him around for the year ahead. If Minnesota is entering a rebuild, though, Donaldson’s services are much less needed, and he’d likely desire an opportunity to win elsewhere. The man at the hot corner remains much of the linchpin to this situation, though. Suppose Donaldson was out of the picture, an immediate opening is created for Miranda. He could slot in as Baldelli’s everyday third basemen. The other option would be to roll with Jorge Polanco as the team’s shortstop next season. We’ve seen that he’s stretched defensively in that position, and for a guy who’s looked so good at second base, it’d be a tough sell to put him in that spot. With Polanco at short though, Miranda could draw the most starts at second base, with Luis Arraez continuing to operate in a super-utility role as he has. The other possibility is at first base, moving Miguel Sano to a full-time designated hitter role. That forces Alex Kirilloff into the outfield, however, and leaves Trevor Larnach or Max Kepler twisting in the wind. Sano being the primary designated hitter also reduces the lineup flexibility for Baldelli on a nightly basis. It's an option, but wouldn't strike me as a desirable one. No matter what the decision-making process is, the Twins need a solution. Miranda was not a top-100 prospect entering the season, but coming off his production at the highest levels and being just 23-years-old, forcing his way into the immediate plans has been accomplished. From my perspective, the Twins still need to sign a starting-caliber shortstop, preferably on a one-year deal. That doesn’t help the chances of Miranda making the Opening Day roster or squeezing his way in quickly, but if there’s anything we’ve learned from 2021, it’s that the roster turnover comes quickly and often. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  9. April: That Loss in Oakland (4/21) In Twins lore, this was a game that will forever live in infamy. In fact, it probably needs a nickname for eternal reference. Bayside Blunderfest? Catastrophe in the Coliseum? The Oaktown Meltdown? Whatever you want to call it, this was the clear low point in a gut-punch of a first month for the Twins. I don't say so lightly, because there was no shortage of brutal blows from which to choose, but this game was the cream of the crap. It wasn't just the dire implications of that 13-12 result itself, sealing a sweep for the A's and marking Minnesota's ninth loss in 10 games. No, what made this one an L for the ages – to the extent you knew exactly which game I was talking about when you read "that loss in Oakland" – was the almost comically painful way in which it all unfolded. I won't torture you with a full recap, but the gist is this: With the team playing short-handed due to a COVID outbreak, Kenta Maeda digs a deep hole by allowing seven runs (an early sign something is amiss for the reigning Cy Young runner-up); the offense mounts a big rally; Byron Buxton attempts to will the team to victory single-handed with a huge catch and home run; and then ... Alex Colomé happens. As these Twins stumbled out of the gates and fell flat on their faces, Colomé was a deserving figurehead for the failure. The front office's big-ticket bullpen pickup was an incomprehensible disaster, repeatedly giving away games that were in hand. On this special occasion, he did so twice in a two-inning span! Minnesota led 9-8 heading into the bottom of the ninth when Colomé entered. He gave up a run. The game went to extras. Buxton launched a dramatic two-run homer in the 10th. Then Colomé promptly walked the bases loaded in the bottom half, and watched the infield defense implode behind him as the A's rallied to score three runs on back-to-back errors and walk it off. *chef's kiss* May: Twins Drop 12th Out of 15 Games (5/20) Damaging to our collective psyches as it may have been, the above game was not fatal to the team's hopes of contending. While a 6-11 start wasn't ideal, the Twins were padded by a strong first week. This was just a good team going through an ugly April funk ... right? Nah. Turns out they were just bad. From May 8th through May 20th they went 3-12, turning in lifeless outing after lifeless outing as their season crumbled into nothingness, a mere seven weeks after getting started. Prior to this stretch the Twins were modestly climbing toward .500; by the end they were 14-28, and 11 ½ games out of first place. The last of the dozen losses during this 16-day stretch – a 7-1 doubleheader matinee against the Angels – was not especially noteworthy, save for how typical it was. Lewis Thorpe made a spot start and got lit up. The bullpen was bad. The offense did nothing. It was obvious from early on the Twins were going nowhere in this one, which is a suitable summarization of their season as a whole. June: Buxton Breaks His Hand (6/21) As things devolved in the early weeks, there was one redeeming storyline for Twins fans. Buxton was playing out of his mind. In April he became the first Twins player to earn Player of the Month honors in more than a decade. Unlocking his long-simmering potential at last, the center fielder was a must-watch attraction on a team that was otherwise hard to stomach. In early May, a hip injury shut Buxton down, leading to more than a month on the Injured List. He returned in mid-June, fighting through obvious pain and physical limitation, but was nonetheless productive for three games. Then, a freaking fastball hit his hand and fractured it. The team's fate was already more or less sealed by this point, but seeing their most likable player suffer another unthinkable setback was almost too much to take. I'll never forget Rocco Baldelli's somber postgame press conference, which conveyed empathy for his snakebit center fielder, as well as a general sense of dazed bewilderment at the state of his club's shattered season. This was going to be the year Buxton pulled it all together. Instead, it'll go down as yet another fleeting glimmer of greatness. And perhaps his final hurrah in a Twins uniform. July: Berríos Dealt on Deadline Day (7/30) We've already seen that final hurrah from José Berríos, who was drafted the same year as Buxton and rose to similarly impressive heights. The blockbuster deal that sent Berríos to Toronto for two top prospects was among the most significant deadline trades in franchise history, and a bellwether moment. Trading Berríos affirmed a full-on changing of the guard, following the less surprising Nelson Cruz trade a week earlier. Factor in coinciding reports of fruitless extension negotiations with Buxton, and this year's deadline openly signaled an oncoming identity shift for the Twins. This changing identity was evident in the final two months, during which we'd see these Twins play some of their very best ball. August: Ober Blanks Boston at Fenway (8/25) No Berríos. No Cruz. No Maeda. No Taylor Rogers. And yet the Twins were a .500 team after the trade deadline. That's not anything to write home about but, all things considered, it's kind of eyebrow-raising. How'd they do it? Bailey Ober played a big part (figuratively and literally) in the quality results, and the long-term implications of his sudden ascent from organization filler to rotation fixture are difficult to overstate. The month of August saw Ober pitch to a 2.30 ERA and 27-to-3 K/BB ratio in 27 ⅓ innings. The Twins went 4-1 in his five starts. While veteran pitchers around him got injured, got traded, and got blown up, Ober remained steady, with his newfound velocity boost and 6-foot-9 frame proving a sustainable formula. His most memorable outing in an excellent month came in Boston on the 25th. One year prior, no one would've realistically expected Ober to be pitching in the big leagues, so the rookie must've been feeling some nerves as he took the mound against a powerhouse at legendary Fenway Park for his 15th MLB start. You would've never known it from the way he pitched. Ober tossed a leisurely five shutout innings, striking out seven and walking one. At this moment he's the presumed Opening Day starter in 2022. September: Polanco Tallies 4 Extra-Base Hits (9/6) While Ober's emergence as a rotation staple was the most consequential unexpected development of the 2021 season, Jorge Polanco's rejuvenated slugging prowess may be a close second. For better or worse, the Twins are contractually tied to Polanco through at least 2023, and that was tilting in the "or worse" direction when his punchless 2020 production spilled over to April. But as he became more comfortable on his twice-surgically-repaired ankle, and began to find his stride once again, Polanco's long-absent power came rushing back. Suddenly, the switch-slugging All-Star from early 2019 was back and better than ever. And this was no flash in the pan. Polanco consistently kept pounding baseballs for the rest of the season – reflected by the fact that his most memorable highlight arrived in September. On this day in Cleveland, Polanco tallied a season-high four of his 70 extra-base hits, doubling three times and homering in a 5-2 win. During the previous series in Tampa, he launched two home runs and two doubles. Five days later against the Royals, he'd go deep twice. Polanco relentlessly slugged and produced all the way through to the end, playing at an MVP level while the team around him acquiesced to sub-mediocrity. It's reminiscent, in some ways, of Brian Dozier in 2016. One year later, Dozier was the veteran star and leader on a team that shocked everyone, improving by 26 wins and reaching the postseason. A precedent that is perhaps worth carrying forward. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Preorder the Offseason Handbook — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  10. Some nightmarish pitching by the Twins cost them a win in the series opener against the Royals in Kansas City, their final series of the year. The offense, quiet at first, provided six runs on 13 hits, with Jorge Polanco reaching a milestone. Box Score Gant: 4.0 IP, 8 H, 6 ER, 2 BB, 3 K (63.3% strikes) Home Runs: Jeffers (14) Bottom 3 WPA: Gant -.291, Rooker -.088, Kepler -.082 Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) A small disaster nearly struck the Twins early, as John Gant had a tough first inning. Granted, it could’ve been worse, but things were ugly. Command wasn’t there from the very beginning, and the strike zone eluded him. He loaded the bases before recording an out, then threw a wild pitch that allowed the Royals to score first. He loaded the bases immediately afterward, and Kansas City scored again on a force out. It was not before he tossed 29 pitches that the bottom of the first inning was finished. Weirdly enough, he came back to pitch a 1-2-3, six-pitch bottom of the second. That came with the help of some fancy defense from the Twins’ outfield, with Max Kepler making a beautiful, inning-ending diving catch. But that didn’t help Minnesota’s case much, as the offense couldn’t produce a baserunner before the third when Brent Rooker led off the inning with a single. Rooker got picked off, and the Twins couldn’t get anything going. That scoreless second inning from Gant turned out to be the exception, after all. It didn’t look like it at first, though. He did retire the first two batters he saw in the third on only seven pitches, right before giving up four consecutive hits to the heart of the Royals' lineup, allowing Kansas City to pushed a couple more runs across. Minnesota manufactured a run in the fourth after Byron Buxton hit a double and advanced on a fly out by Jorge Polanco and brought home by a Josh Donaldson two-out double, making it 4-1 Royals. Gant was back out for the fourth, and luck wasn’t on his side this time. In what was supposed to be a scoreless effort from him, the Royals scored two more runs on a pop up that landed between Brent Rooker and Nick Gordon, just tipping off the shortstop's glove. Whit Merrifield and Nicky Lopez scored, making it 6-1 Kansas City. The offense continued to struggle against rookie Jon Heasley, who cruised through five innings on only 69 pitches. The Royals’ offense, on the other hand, added more runs. Hunter Dozier hit a leadoff home run in the fifth off Luke Farrell. Then, Adalberto Mondesí doubled and scored on a Cam Gallagher RBI-single, making it 8-1 Kansas City. Twins pick up three runs; Royals take them back Heasley dominated the Twins lineup for five innings. However, things started to change for the righty during the sixth inning. Ryan Jeffers crushed a leadoff, 429-feet home run to left that left his bat at 107 MPH. Minnesota kept pounding the rookie, and they loaded the bases with only one out: a Buxton double, a Polanco walk, and a Donaldson hit-by-pitch. Suddenly, the Twins could make this a two-run game on a swing of the bat. Royals manager Mike Matheny pulled Heasley from the game. Reliever Gabe Speier came into the game and got the second out with two pitches, but he couldn’t quite escape from the jam. Miguel Sanó stepped up to the plate and hit a liner to center to score Buxton and Polanco. Kansas City’s lead was down to four runs. But that rally didn’t last. Two men reached against Farrell in the bottom of the sixth, prompting Rocco Baldelli to remove him from the game. Jovani Moran couldn’t take care of the inherited runners, giving up three consecutive singles that scored three more runs to Kansas City, making it 11-4. The offense had some fight in them. With Speier still on the mound for the Royals, Minnesota hit three consecutive one-out singles (Jeffers, Luis Arráez, and Buxton) and loaded the bases for Polanco. Polo grounded into a force out to score Jeffers and Arráez and reach first himself on a throwing error by Merrifield. Polanco was credited with one RBI on that play which was his 95th of the season, tying the club record for most RBI in a season by a switch-hitter, previously held by Roy Smalley, in the 1979 season. Will he break the record in the two final games of the season? Minnesota threatened once again in the top of the eighth when they had men in the corners with two outs and Jeffers at the plate. He then swung on a 3-1 slider over the plate and gave it a ride, but the ball was caught just in front of the center field fence. Arráez led off the ninth with a single, but he was stranded by former Twin Ervin Santana and the Royals won the game. Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet MON TUE WED THU FRI TOT Colomé 0 26 18 0 0 44 Duffey 0 18 21 0 0 39 Farrell 0 0 0 0 38 38 Moran 0 0 0 0 38 38 Garza Jr. 0 19 0 12 0 31 Thielbar 0 13 0 14 0 27 Alcalá 0 10 0 13 0 23 Minaya 0 0 22 0 0 22 Vincent 0 0 0 16 0 16 Coulombe 0 0 0 0 15 15 Barraclough 0 0 0 14 0 14 View full article
  11. Box Score Gant: 4.0 IP, 8 H, 6 ER, 2 BB, 3 K (63.3% strikes) Home Runs: Jeffers (14) Bottom 3 WPA: Gant -.291, Rooker -.088, Kepler -.082 Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) A small disaster nearly struck the Twins early, as John Gant had a tough first inning. Granted, it could’ve been worse, but things were ugly. Command wasn’t there from the very beginning, and the strike zone eluded him. He loaded the bases before recording an out, then threw a wild pitch that allowed the Royals to score first. He loaded the bases immediately afterward, and Kansas City scored again on a force out. It was not before he tossed 29 pitches that the bottom of the first inning was finished. Weirdly enough, he came back to pitch a 1-2-3, six-pitch bottom of the second. That came with the help of some fancy defense from the Twins’ outfield, with Max Kepler making a beautiful, inning-ending diving catch. But that didn’t help Minnesota’s case much, as the offense couldn’t produce a baserunner before the third when Brent Rooker led off the inning with a single. Rooker got picked off, and the Twins couldn’t get anything going. That scoreless second inning from Gant turned out to be the exception, after all. It didn’t look like it at first, though. He did retire the first two batters he saw in the third on only seven pitches, right before giving up four consecutive hits to the heart of the Royals' lineup, allowing Kansas City to pushed a couple more runs across. Minnesota manufactured a run in the fourth after Byron Buxton hit a double and advanced on a fly out by Jorge Polanco and brought home by a Josh Donaldson two-out double, making it 4-1 Royals. Gant was back out for the fourth, and luck wasn’t on his side this time. In what was supposed to be a scoreless effort from him, the Royals scored two more runs on a pop up that landed between Brent Rooker and Nick Gordon, just tipping off the shortstop's glove. Whit Merrifield and Nicky Lopez scored, making it 6-1 Kansas City. The offense continued to struggle against rookie Jon Heasley, who cruised through five innings on only 69 pitches. The Royals’ offense, on the other hand, added more runs. Hunter Dozier hit a leadoff home run in the fifth off Luke Farrell. Then, Adalberto Mondesí doubled and scored on a Cam Gallagher RBI-single, making it 8-1 Kansas City. Twins pick up three runs; Royals take them back Heasley dominated the Twins lineup for five innings. However, things started to change for the righty during the sixth inning. Ryan Jeffers crushed a leadoff, 429-feet home run to left that left his bat at 107 MPH. Minnesota kept pounding the rookie, and they loaded the bases with only one out: a Buxton double, a Polanco walk, and a Donaldson hit-by-pitch. Suddenly, the Twins could make this a two-run game on a swing of the bat. Royals manager Mike Matheny pulled Heasley from the game. Reliever Gabe Speier came into the game and got the second out with two pitches, but he couldn’t quite escape from the jam. Miguel Sanó stepped up to the plate and hit a liner to center to score Buxton and Polanco. Kansas City’s lead was down to four runs. But that rally didn’t last. Two men reached against Farrell in the bottom of the sixth, prompting Rocco Baldelli to remove him from the game. Jovani Moran couldn’t take care of the inherited runners, giving up three consecutive singles that scored three more runs to Kansas City, making it 11-4. The offense had some fight in them. With Speier still on the mound for the Royals, Minnesota hit three consecutive one-out singles (Jeffers, Luis Arráez, and Buxton) and loaded the bases for Polanco. Polo grounded into a force out to score Jeffers and Arráez and reach first himself on a throwing error by Merrifield. Polanco was credited with one RBI on that play which was his 95th of the season, tying the club record for most RBI in a season by a switch-hitter, previously held by Roy Smalley, in the 1979 season. Will he break the record in the two final games of the season? Minnesota threatened once again in the top of the eighth when they had men in the corners with two outs and Jeffers at the plate. He then swung on a 3-1 slider over the plate and gave it a ride, but the ball was caught just in front of the center field fence. Arráez led off the ninth with a single, but he was stranded by former Twin Ervin Santana and the Royals won the game. Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet MON TUE WED THU FRI TOT Colomé 0 26 18 0 0 44 Duffey 0 18 21 0 0 39 Farrell 0 0 0 0 38 38 Moran 0 0 0 0 38 38 Garza Jr. 0 19 0 12 0 31 Thielbar 0 13 0 14 0 27 Alcalá 0 10 0 13 0 23 Minaya 0 0 22 0 0 22 Vincent 0 0 0 16 0 16 Coulombe 0 0 0 0 15 15 Barraclough 0 0 0 14 0 14
  12. Jorge Polanco gave the Minnesota Twins all the offense they would need with a home run in the first inning, as the pitching staff continued its excellence over the last month of the season, leading the Twins to the 5-2 victory over the Detroit Tigers. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Pineda 5.2 IP, 8 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 5 K Homeruns: Polanco (32) Top 3 WPA: Pineda (0.181), Polanco (0.163), Duffey (0.121) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Jorge Polanco Give Twins Early Lead The Twins bats got off to a quick start in this ballgame providing some instant offensive support for Michael Pineda. Luis Arraez got things started with a single and advanced to second on a weakly-hit infield single from Byron Buxton. This set the table for Jorge Polanco, who promptly drove the very next pitch out of the ballpark, giving the Twins a 3-0 lead. Michael Pineda Has Strong Final Start of the Season With the Twins season coming to an end on Sunday, this was almost assuredly the final start of Michael Pineda’s season, and potentially his final start in a Twins uniform, as he will be a free agent at season’s end. Pineda held the Tigers offense scoreless on three singles through the first three innings of the ballgame, before surrendering his lone run of the game in the fourth. Robbie Grossman got the Tigers fourth started with a single, before Pineda struck Miguel Cabrera with a pitch. Grossman advanced to third on a Jeimer Candelario fly out, and then scored on this comebacker that struck Pineda. Twins Add Insurance Runs in the 8th Protecting small leads in the 9th have plagued the Twins all season, so the offense adding two insurance runs in the 8th inning to double their lead felt bigger than they usually would. After making a great catch to end the top of the inning, Byron Buxton led off the bottom of the inning and was hit by the first pitch he saw. Buxton then stole second, and advanced to third on a throwing error by Tigers catcher Eric Haase. Buxton would later come in to score on an RBI base-hit from Max Kepler. Miguel Sano followed the Kepler hit with a one-out walk to load the bases for Nick Gordon who hit a shallow fly ball to center that did not appear deep enough to score Josh Donaldson from third, but he tagged up anyway and scored the Twins fifth run of the game thanks to an off target throw home. Bullpen Usage Chart FRI SAT SUN TUE WED TOT Garza Jr. 0 0 18 19 0 37 Vincent 0 0 33 0 0 33 Thielbar 0 0 17 13 0 30 Coulombe 0 37 0 0 0 37 Farrell 0 18 0 0 0 18 Duffey 17 0 0 18 21 56 Barraclough 0 33 0 0 0 33 Colomé 5 0 0 26 18 49 Minaya 19 0 0 0 22 41 Moran 0 19 0 0 0 19 Alcalá 6 0 0 10 0 16 What's Next? The Twins have their final home game of the 2021 season on Thursday night, as they look to complete the three-game sweep of the Tigers. Joe Ryan is scheduled to pitch for the Twins opposite Tarik Skubal. First pitch is scheduled for 6:40 pm CDT. Post Game Interviews View full article
  13. Recently named the Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Year, the Twins Minor League Player of the Year, and the MLB Pipeline All-Prospect 1st Team, Miranda has picked up all of the accolades. It’s hard to be surprised, given his performance. For the season, he owns a .347/.403/.574 (.977) slash line along with 60 extra-base hits, of which 29 are home runs. His 73/41 K/BB rate suggests a strong eye and plate discipline ability, and despite the year with no minor league action, it’s hard to see anything but an immense amount of work put in. For a Minnesota Twins team that saw their season end essentially before it ever got off the ground, it’s worth wondering how Miranda wasn’t selected to see action at the big-league level. The role isn’t straightforward, though, and it’s something Derek Falvey and Rocco Baldelli will need to sort out for the year ahead. In 2021, Miranda played games at every infield position aside from catcher, and he even got three starts in left field. Primarily a third basemen, that role is currently occupied by Josh Donaldson, who has been one of the Twins better hitters and is signed to a large contract. Miranda is blocked at second base by one of the game’s best in Jorge Polanco, and he’s miscast playing shortstop. It appeared that the Twins wanted to see his abilities at first base, but that’s a role currently held down by Miguel Sano and likely Alex Kirilloff next season. So, where does he go? Had the Twins dealt Donaldson at the trade deadline, it essentially would’ve been to swing a cash dump. Donaldson, and more notably his contract, will never net the Twins anything close to an equal value. Given his uptick in production, it made sense to keep him around for the year ahead. If Minnesota is entering a rebuild, though, Donaldson’s services are much less needed, and he’d likely desire an opportunity to win elsewhere. The man at the hot corner remains much of the linchpin to this situation, though. Suppose Donaldson was out of the picture, an immediate opening is created for Miranda. He could slot in as Baldelli’s everyday third basemen. The other option would be to roll with Jorge Polanco as the team’s shortstop next season. We’ve seen that he’s stretched defensively in that position, and for a guy who’s looked so good at second base, it’d be a tough sell to put him in that spot. With Polanco at short though, Miranda could draw the most starts at second base, with Luis Arraez continuing to operate in a super-utility role as he has. The other possibility is at first base, moving Miguel Sano to a full-time designated hitter role. That forces Alex Kirilloff into the outfield, however, and leaves Trevor Larnach or Max Kepler twisting in the wind. Sano being the primary designated hitter also reduces the lineup flexibility for Baldelli on a nightly basis. It's an option, but wouldn't strike me as a desirable one. No matter what the decision-making process is, the Twins need a solution. Miranda was not a top-100 prospect entering the season, but coming off his production at the highest levels and being just 23-years-old, forcing his way into the immediate plans has been accomplished. From my perspective, the Twins still need to sign a starting-caliber shortstop, preferably on a one-year deal. That doesn’t help the chances of Miranda making the Opening Day roster or squeezing his way in quickly, but if there’s anything we’ve learned from 2021, it’s that the roster turnover comes quickly and often. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  14. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Pineda 5.2 IP, 8 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 5 K Homeruns: Polanco (32) Top 3 WPA: Pineda (0.181), Polanco (0.163), Duffey (0.121) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Jorge Polanco Give Twins Early Lead The Twins bats got off to a quick start in this ballgame providing some instant offensive support for Michael Pineda. Luis Arraez got things started with a single and advanced to second on a weakly-hit infield single from Byron Buxton. This set the table for Jorge Polanco, who promptly drove the very next pitch out of the ballpark, giving the Twins a 3-0 lead. Michael Pineda Has Strong Final Start of the Season With the Twins season coming to an end on Sunday, this was almost assuredly the final start of Michael Pineda’s season, and potentially his final start in a Twins uniform, as he will be a free agent at season’s end. Pineda held the Tigers offense scoreless on three singles through the first three innings of the ballgame, before surrendering his lone run of the game in the fourth. Robbie Grossman got the Tigers fourth started with a single, before Pineda struck Miguel Cabrera with a pitch. Grossman advanced to third on a Jeimer Candelario fly out, and then scored on this comebacker that struck Pineda. Twins Add Insurance Runs in the 8th Protecting small leads in the 9th have plagued the Twins all season, so the offense adding two insurance runs in the 8th inning to double their lead felt bigger than they usually would. After making a great catch to end the top of the inning, Byron Buxton led off the bottom of the inning and was hit by the first pitch he saw. Buxton then stole second, and advanced to third on a throwing error by Tigers catcher Eric Haase. Buxton would later come in to score on an RBI base-hit from Max Kepler. Miguel Sano followed the Kepler hit with a one-out walk to load the bases for Nick Gordon who hit a shallow fly ball to center that did not appear deep enough to score Josh Donaldson from third, but he tagged up anyway and scored the Twins fifth run of the game thanks to an off target throw home. Bullpen Usage Chart FRI SAT SUN TUE WED TOT Garza Jr. 0 0 18 19 0 37 Vincent 0 0 33 0 0 33 Thielbar 0 0 17 13 0 30 Coulombe 0 37 0 0 0 37 Farrell 0 18 0 0 0 18 Duffey 17 0 0 18 21 56 Barraclough 0 33 0 0 0 33 Colomé 5 0 0 26 18 49 Minaya 19 0 0 0 22 41 Moran 0 19 0 0 0 19 Alcalá 6 0 0 10 0 16 What's Next? The Twins have their final home game of the 2021 season on Thursday night, as they look to complete the three-game sweep of the Tigers. Joe Ryan is scheduled to pitch for the Twins opposite Tarik Skubal. First pitch is scheduled for 6:40 pm CDT. Post Game Interviews
  15. It’s easy to be negative when the Twins are heading for 90-losses or more for the sixth time in the last decade. Even if you turned away, there were plenty of things that went right for the 2021 Twins. Why have you continued to watch the Twins in the second half? Have you tuned in for Jorge Polanco’s hot bat? Did you watch some of the young pitching making their MLB debuts? Below is a ranking of the top three things that went right for the 2021 Twins. 3. Jorge Polanco Jorge Polanco has been one of the most prominent bright spots this season. After having ankle surgery the past two off-seasons, there were plenty of question marks about his long-term role for the Twins. The team moved him away from shortstop, and other players on the roster can fit into the plan at second base. He faced these challenges head-on and is ending the season as the team’s most valuable player. Polanco set the franchise record for home runs by a switch-hitter after a slow start to the season. He will end the year with more than 30 homers, 30 doubles, and ten steals, which are numbers only a few MLB players have accumulated this year. Baseball Reference has him with the sixth-highest WAR total among AL position players. His at-bats have become one of the main reasons to watch the Twins in the second half. 2. Aggressive Trade Deadline Minnesota’s front office said the Twins will compete in 2022, so trading away players like Jose Berrios can be tough to make that a reality. An argument could have been made to retain players and take another run in 2022. Instead, the Twins were able to get two top-100 prospects for Berrios and two big-league ready arms for Nelson Cruz’s expiring contract. These aren’t the only parts of the trade deadline that impacted the team’s long-term outlook. Besides Cruz and Berrios, Minnesota dealt away J.A. Happ and Hansel Robles for pitching prospects. Happ and Robles were on expiring deals, and neither had performed exceptionally well during their Twins tenure, so getting value was an impressive feat for the front office. Minnesota also held on to players like Byron Buxton, Josh Donaldson, and Max Kepler. All of these players can help the Twins to be competitive in 2022. 1. Experience for Young Players In a lost season, big-league experience can be invaluable for the players who make up the core of the next winning Twins team. Alex Kirilloff and Trevor Larnach were thrust into the Twins line-up with some bumps and bruises along the way. Kirilloff fought through a wrist injury and was still able to produce a 98 OPS+. Larnach held his own in the season’s first half (.755 OPS) before the team needed him to rediscover his swing in St. Paul. Both players will be in the middle of Minnesota’s line-up for most of the next decade. On the mound, starters like Bailey Ober and Joe Ryan have shown they can more than hold their own at the big-league level. As of right now, no members of the 2021 Opening Day starting rotation will be with the Twins next year. Minnesota likely feels comfortable with both of these pitchers penciled into the back of the 2022 rotation. Starting pitching depth was an issue in 2022, so the front office has plenty of work to do on this front over the next couple of months. How would you rank these positives from 2021? What would you add to the list? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  16. Why have you continued to watch the Twins in the second half? Have you tuned in for Jorge Polanco’s hot bat? Did you watch some of the young pitching making their MLB debuts? Below is a ranking of the top three things that went right for the 2021 Twins. 3. Jorge Polanco Jorge Polanco has been one of the most prominent bright spots this season. After having ankle surgery the past two off-seasons, there were plenty of question marks about his long-term role for the Twins. The team moved him away from shortstop, and other players on the roster can fit into the plan at second base. He faced these challenges head-on and is ending the season as the team’s most valuable player. Polanco set the franchise record for home runs by a switch-hitter after a slow start to the season. He will end the year with more than 30 homers, 30 doubles, and ten steals, which are numbers only a few MLB players have accumulated this year. Baseball Reference has him with the sixth-highest WAR total among AL position players. His at-bats have become one of the main reasons to watch the Twins in the second half. 2. Aggressive Trade Deadline Minnesota’s front office said the Twins will compete in 2022, so trading away players like Jose Berrios can be tough to make that a reality. An argument could have been made to retain players and take another run in 2022. Instead, the Twins were able to get two top-100 prospects for Berrios and two big-league ready arms for Nelson Cruz’s expiring contract. These aren’t the only parts of the trade deadline that impacted the team’s long-term outlook. Besides Cruz and Berrios, Minnesota dealt away J.A. Happ and Hansel Robles for pitching prospects. Happ and Robles were on expiring deals, and neither had performed exceptionally well during their Twins tenure, so getting value was an impressive feat for the front office. Minnesota also held on to players like Byron Buxton, Josh Donaldson, and Max Kepler. All of these players can help the Twins to be competitive in 2022. 1. Experience for Young Players In a lost season, big-league experience can be invaluable for the players who make up the core of the next winning Twins team. Alex Kirilloff and Trevor Larnach were thrust into the Twins line-up with some bumps and bruises along the way. Kirilloff fought through a wrist injury and was still able to produce a 98 OPS+. Larnach held his own in the season’s first half (.755 OPS) before the team needed him to rediscover his swing in St. Paul. Both players will be in the middle of Minnesota’s line-up for most of the next decade. On the mound, starters like Bailey Ober and Joe Ryan have shown they can more than hold their own at the big-league level. As of right now, no members of the 2021 Opening Day starting rotation will be with the Twins next year. Minnesota likely feels comfortable with both of these pitchers penciled into the back of the 2022 rotation. Starting pitching depth was an issue in 2022, so the front office has plenty of work to do on this front over the next couple of months. How would you rank these positives from 2021? What would you add to the list? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  17. The Twins put a dent in Toronto’s wild card run with a four-home run night, combined with a solid start from Michael Pineda and a rock-solid bullpen performance. Minnesota wins their eighth in a row against the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. Box Score Pineda: 5.2 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 2 K (71.9% strikes) Home Runs: Polanco (31), Donaldson (23), Sanó (29), Rooker (8) Top 3 WPA: Rooker .141, Buxton .117, Donaldson .095 Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Minnesota’s first trip to Rogers Centre in almost two and a half years became fun very early. Both starters, Michael Pineda for the Twins and Hyun Jin Ryu for the Blue Jays, pitched economical, scoreless first innings. But then both teams combined for nine runs in the following two innings. Miguel Sanó drew a leadoff walk in the top of the second and scored a couple of at-bats later on a Brent Rooker double, putting the Twins ahead. But an awful defensive mistake in the bottom half of that same inning gave Toronto a couple of runs that put them ahead. With two outs, Pineda induced a weak ground ball that would have ended the inning. However, Jorge Polanco overthrew Sanó, allowing Corey Dickerson to score from second and Danny Jansen to reach first. Then, Jake Lamb doubled to score Jansen, making it 2-1 Toronto. Minnesota makes it ugly for Ryu In a quick “Bomba Squad” flashback, the Twins exploded for five runs on five hits in their half of the third, including three home runs, before Toronto could record a single out! The game was suddenly tied after Ryan Jeffers hit a leadoff single and Byron Buxton pushed him across with a double. Then, Polanco redeemed himself from his previous error and regained the lead for Minnesota with a two-run shot. The party wasn’t over. Josh Donaldson, who got a warm welcome from the Jays fans earlier, made it back-to-back with a bomb to right field, giving the Twins a three-run lead, prompting some Donaldson-jersey-wearing Toronto fans to boo him. That was fun. Not so much for Ryu, who was immediately pulled from the game by Jays’ manager Charlie Montoyo. That was Donaldson’s 64th home run at Rogers Centre, the most by any active player in the majors. Miggy Smalls didn’t want to feel left out, so he followed Donaldson’s homer with a dinger of his own, his 29th of the season. That was also the 160th long ball of his career, putting him even closer to the Twins’ all-time top 10 in total home runs. He needs four more on the year to drop Tom Brunansky from 10th place. In the bottom half of the inning, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. got one run back to Toronto, hitting a rocket (111 MPH exit velocity) to left field, his 46th home run of the season. Pineda, bullpen finish off strong Big Mike got in the zone after that Guerrero Jr. home run in the third. Pineda retired eight in a row from that moment on, with a couple of 1-2-3 innings. After throwing 45 pitches to complete 2 1/3 innings, he needed only 30 to complete the next 2 2/3 innings. Rooker gave Pineda even more run support hitting a solo home run in the top of the sixth, making it 7-3 Minnesota. Pineda came back and retired the first two batters of the sixth on only four pitches, making it ten batters in a row retired. But he lost Teoscar Hernández on a ten-pitch walk, causing Rocco Baldelli to take him out of the game. Jorge Alcalá took care of the inherited runner for him, concluding Pineda’s solid line for the evening. Is it possible that tonight’s outing from Big Mike might have changed Twins Daily’s Cody Pirkl’s mind about a possible reunion in 2022? Alcalá came back for the seventh, and he continued his amazing second-half run. By pitching a clean, seven-pitch inning, the Dominican flamethrower has now posted a 1.42 ERA since the start of August. He needed only 13 pitches to get four outs, 10 of which were strikes. He also maxed out at 99.8 MPH. Tyler Duffey was equally brilliant, striking out the side for a 1-2-3 eighth. Alexander Colomé closed out the game with a scoreless inning of his own, securing the win. A fun stat from the Twins bullpen: according to Fangraphs, before tonight's game, the Twins bullpen has ranked 8th in ERA (3.64) since the start of August. Could we be seeing some encouraging signs for 2022? Bailey Ober will try to keep the winning streak in Toronto tomorrow against Steven Matz. With Friday's win, the Twins haven't lost a game at Rogers Centre since Aug 26, 2017. Saturday's first pitch is scheduled for 2:07 CDT. Postgame Interviews Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet MON TUE WED THU FRI TOT Duffey 38 0 0 0 16 54 Colomé 27 11 0 0 14 52 Barraclough 23 16 0 0 0 39 Farrell 34 0 0 0 0 34 Moran 0 0 34 0 0 34 Coulombe 0 27 0 0 0 27 Vincent 0 0 21 0 0 21 Alcalá 0 8 0 0 13 21 Minaya 0 13 0 0 0 13 Thielbar 11 0 0 0 0 11 Garza Jr. 6 0 0 0 0 6 View full article
  18. Minnesota Twins Jorge Polanco, Josh Donaldson and Miguel Sanó went back-to-back-to-back in Toronto Friday evening. Highlights of those home runs plus some of Brent Rooker, Mitch Garver, Cole Sands, Aaron Sabato and Jose Miranda.
  19. Minnesota Twins Jorge Polanco, Josh Donaldson and Miguel Sanó went back-to-back-to-back in Toronto Friday evening. Highlights of those home runs plus some of Brent Rooker, Mitch Garver, Cole Sands, Aaron Sabato and Jose Miranda. View full video
  20. Box Score Pineda: 5.2 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 2 K (71.9% strikes) Home Runs: Polanco (31), Donaldson (23), Sanó (29), Rooker (8) Top 3 WPA: Rooker .141, Buxton .117, Donaldson .095 Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Minnesota’s first trip to Rogers Centre in almost two and a half years became fun very early. Both starters, Michael Pineda for the Twins and Hyun Jin Ryu for the Blue Jays, pitched economical, scoreless first innings. But then both teams combined for nine runs in the following two innings. Miguel Sanó drew a leadoff walk in the top of the second and scored a couple of at-bats later on a Brent Rooker double, putting the Twins ahead. But an awful defensive mistake in the bottom half of that same inning gave Toronto a couple of runs that put them ahead. With two outs, Pineda induced a weak ground ball that would have ended the inning. However, Jorge Polanco overthrew Sanó, allowing Corey Dickerson to score from second and Danny Jansen to reach first. Then, Jake Lamb doubled to score Jansen, making it 2-1 Toronto. Minnesota makes it ugly for Ryu In a quick “Bomba Squad” flashback, the Twins exploded for five runs on five hits in their half of the third, including three home runs, before Toronto could record a single out! The game was suddenly tied after Ryan Jeffers hit a leadoff single and Byron Buxton pushed him across with a double. Then, Polanco redeemed himself from his previous error and regained the lead for Minnesota with a two-run shot. The party wasn’t over. Josh Donaldson, who got a warm welcome from the Jays fans earlier, made it back-to-back with a bomb to right field, giving the Twins a three-run lead, prompting some Donaldson-jersey-wearing Toronto fans to boo him. That was fun. Not so much for Ryu, who was immediately pulled from the game by Jays’ manager Charlie Montoyo. That was Donaldson’s 64th home run at Rogers Centre, the most by any active player in the majors. Miggy Smalls didn’t want to feel left out, so he followed Donaldson’s homer with a dinger of his own, his 29th of the season. That was also the 160th long ball of his career, putting him even closer to the Twins’ all-time top 10 in total home runs. He needs four more on the year to drop Tom Brunansky from 10th place. In the bottom half of the inning, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. got one run back to Toronto, hitting a rocket (111 MPH exit velocity) to left field, his 46th home run of the season. Pineda, bullpen finish off strong Big Mike got in the zone after that Guerrero Jr. home run in the third. Pineda retired eight in a row from that moment on, with a couple of 1-2-3 innings. After throwing 45 pitches to complete 2 1/3 innings, he needed only 30 to complete the next 2 2/3 innings. Rooker gave Pineda even more run support hitting a solo home run in the top of the sixth, making it 7-3 Minnesota. Pineda came back and retired the first two batters of the sixth on only four pitches, making it ten batters in a row retired. But he lost Teoscar Hernández on a ten-pitch walk, causing Rocco Baldelli to take him out of the game. Jorge Alcalá took care of the inherited runner for him, concluding Pineda’s solid line for the evening. Is it possible that tonight’s outing from Big Mike might have changed Twins Daily’s Cody Pirkl’s mind about a possible reunion in 2022? Alcalá came back for the seventh, and he continued his amazing second-half run. By pitching a clean, seven-pitch inning, the Dominican flamethrower has now posted a 1.42 ERA since the start of August. He needed only 13 pitches to get four outs, 10 of which were strikes. He also maxed out at 99.8 MPH. Tyler Duffey was equally brilliant, striking out the side for a 1-2-3 eighth. Alexander Colomé closed out the game with a scoreless inning of his own, securing the win. A fun stat from the Twins bullpen: according to Fangraphs, before tonight's game, the Twins bullpen has ranked 8th in ERA (3.64) since the start of August. Could we be seeing some encouraging signs for 2022? Bailey Ober will try to keep the winning streak in Toronto tomorrow against Steven Matz. With Friday's win, the Twins haven't lost a game at Rogers Centre since Aug 26, 2017. Saturday's first pitch is scheduled for 2:07 CDT. Postgame Interviews Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet MON TUE WED THU FRI TOT Duffey 38 0 0 0 16 54 Colomé 27 11 0 0 14 52 Barraclough 23 16 0 0 0 39 Farrell 34 0 0 0 0 34 Moran 0 0 34 0 0 34 Coulombe 0 27 0 0 0 27 Vincent 0 0 21 0 0 21 Alcalá 0 8 0 0 13 21 Minaya 0 13 0 0 0 13 Thielbar 11 0 0 0 0 11 Garza Jr. 6 0 0 0 0 6
  21. The bats provided ample run support, and Michael Pineda stayed hot as the Twins took down the Royals with ease. Box Score Michael Pineda: 5 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 3 K Home Runs: Byron Buxton (13), Jorge Polanco 2 (29), Nick Gordon (2), Max Kepler (17) Top 3 WPA: Michael Pineda .169, Jorge Polanco .167, Byron Buxton .095 Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Byron Buxton and Jorge Polanco announced their presence in the bottom of the first inning with back-to-back home runs, setting the tone for the Twins’ offense for the remainder of the game. Nick Gordon followed with a solo shot of his own one inning later, and Max Kepler contributed another in the fourth. In the fifth inning, Polanco’s second dinger of the evening extended the Twins’ lead to 6-1, which was more than enough to propel them to victory. Polanco finished the evening with three hits in five plate appearances and raised his slash line to .280/.336/.520 in 133 games. His 29 home runs represent the most in franchise history by a switch-hitter and by a second baseman not named Brian Dozier. With his performance Saturday evening, Polanco eclipsed the 4.0 fWAR mark, placing him inside the top 25 performers on offense this season. While he did not make the All-Star team and got off to a slow start while still recovering from back-to-back ankles surgeries, Polanco’s second-half eruption is worthy of garnering MVP votes come season’s end despite the Twins being among the worst teams in all of baseball. He won’t get many — heck, there’s a good chance that he won’t get any — but few players have had a more impressive August and early September than the Twins’ second baseman. Even though Polanco and the Twins’ offense stole the show, Michael Pineda’s start should not be overlooked. The impending free agent lowered his ERA to 3.87 on the season and has allowed two or fewer runs in seven of his last 10 appearances. His overall strikeout numbers are down this year, and some of his advanced metrics suggest that he hasn’t been quite as good as his box score numbers, but overall his performance this season, when healthy, has been admirable. The Twins and Royals conclude their series on Sunday afternoon when Bailey Ober (2-2, 4.00 ERA) is expected to face off against Kris Bubic (4-6, 5.07 ERA). First pitch is slated for 1:10 PM CST. Postgame Interviews Coming soon... Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet TUE WED THU FRI SAT TOT Minaya 21 0 0 40 0 61 Thielbar 25 8 0 0 26 59 Farrell 0 0 32 0 12 44 Colomé 17 0 0 12 0 29 Coulombe 0 0 15 0 23 38 Duffey 0 17 0 11 0 28 Alcalá 19 0 0 9 0 28 Garza Jr. 0 0 19 0 0 19 Moran 0 0 0 0 0 0 MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums View full article
  22. The Twins jumped off to a five-run lead early and were able to stay in front for most of the game, despite losing their starter after only 12 pitches. But some terrible ball-strike calls helped the Yankees to rally back and walk it off in extras. Box Score Gant: 0.2 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 0 K Home Runs: Polanco (30), Sanó (27), Buxton (14) Bottom 3 WPA: Garza Jr. -.186, Sanó -.146, Donaldson -.110 Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Minnesota struck first and took a four-run lead in the first inning, facing former member of the Twins organization Luis Gil. Luis Arráez snapped an 0-for-11 slump with a leadoff single and was later pushed across the plate by a home run from Jorge Polanco. This was his 30th dinger of the season, setting a record for most single-season home runs by a switch-hitter in Twins history, breaking the tie with Chili Davis in 1991. Gil lost Josh Donaldson on a seven-pitch walk immediately after Polanco’s home run. He managed to strike out Max Kepler next for the second out, but then another slumping Twin, Miguel Sanó, snapped his 0-for-13 funk with a high home run to center field which barely cleared the fence, making it 4-0 Minnesota. John Gant started out this game at the mound for Minnesota, but he was forced to leave the game with an apparent injury after throwing only 12 pitches and retiring two batters. Luke Farrell got called into the game and did a fine job, providing 2 1/3 hitless innings, helping to keep the Yankees scoreless through three innings. The Twins kept making good contact off Gil and, during the third inning, they added to their lead with another home run. Leading off the top-half of the inning, Byron Buxton jumped on the first pitch he saw, smashing it to a 106 MPH exit velocity, making it 5-0 Twins. Twins pitchers continued to dominate Yankees' hitting, keeping New York with one hit through 5 2/3 innings. Caleb Thielbar and Kyle Barraclough, who was recalled from Saint Paul earlier today (with Brent Rooker going on the paternity list), delivered two quick, scoreless innings in relief of Farrell. But in the sixth inning, Barraclough got huge help from the outfield defense behind him, as Max Kepler made some crucial plays in right field, robbing New York of at least an extra-base hit that could spark a rally. They did score a run on a sac-fly from DJ LeMahieu, scoring Tyler Wade from third. Terrible umpiring helps the Yankees to rally back Tyler Duffey came into the game to get the last out of the sixth immediately after Barraclough gave up a two-out hit. He opened the seventh fanning Giancarlo Stanton, but he gave up a solo home run to Joey Gallo, cutting Minnesota’s lead to three. He came back to pitch the eighth, but he got some awful calls from home plate umpire Jeff Nelson, who missed at least four calls during that inning. Brent Gardner “drew a walk” on a ball four that was most certainly a strike (pitch #6 below). That put two men on, and Rocco Baldelli pulled Duffey off the game. Alexander Colomé came in to face Aaron Judge, who hit a three-run home run, tying the game at five. Colomé struck out the side in the bottom of the ninth, taking the game to extra innings. All Minnesota was able to do during the 10th inning was to move up the ghost runner on a sacrifice groundout. In the bottom half, Gary Sánchez hit a line drive to left, deep enough to score Gleyber Torres from second, winning the game for New York. Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet THU FRI SAT SUN MON TOT Farrell 32 0 12 0 34 78 Minaya 0 40 0 17 0 57 Duffey 0 11 0 0 38 49 Colomé 0 12 0 0 27 39 Coulombe 15 0 23 0 0 38 Moran 0 0 0 37 0 37 Thielbar 0 0 26 0 11 37 Garza Jr. 19 0 0 11 6 36 Alcalá 0 9 0 18 0 27 Barraclough 0 0 0 0 23 23 View full article
  23. Jorge Polanco hit his 30th home run Monday, giving him the Minnesota Twins record for most homers hit in a season by a switch hitter. Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton also homered for the Twins but John Gant left this game in the first inning with an injury and the bullpen couldn't hold off the Yankees. Also discussed in this video is the umpiring in this game, Max Kepler, Niklas Rimmel, Chase Petty and Jordan Balazovic.
  24. Jorge Polanco hit his 30th home run Monday, giving him the Minnesota Twins record for most homers hit in a season by a switch hitter. Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton also homered for the Twins but John Gant left this game in the first inning with an injury and the bullpen couldn't hold off the Yankees. Also discussed in this video is the umpiring in this game, Max Kepler, Niklas Rimmel, Chase Petty and Jordan Balazovic. View full video
  25. Box Score Gant: 0.2 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 0 K Home Runs: Polanco (30), Sanó (27), Buxton (14) Bottom 3 WPA: Garza Jr. -.186, Sanó -.146, Donaldson -.110 Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Minnesota struck first and took a four-run lead in the first inning, facing former member of the Twins organization Luis Gil. Luis Arráez snapped an 0-for-11 slump with a leadoff single and was later pushed across the plate by a home run from Jorge Polanco. This was his 30th dinger of the season, setting a record for most single-season home runs by a switch-hitter in Twins history, breaking the tie with Chili Davis in 1991. Gil lost Josh Donaldson on a seven-pitch walk immediately after Polanco’s home run. He managed to strike out Max Kepler next for the second out, but then another slumping Twin, Miguel Sanó, snapped his 0-for-13 funk with a high home run to center field which barely cleared the fence, making it 4-0 Minnesota. John Gant started out this game at the mound for Minnesota, but he was forced to leave the game with an apparent injury after throwing only 12 pitches and retiring two batters. Luke Farrell got called into the game and did a fine job, providing 2 1/3 hitless innings, helping to keep the Yankees scoreless through three innings. The Twins kept making good contact off Gil and, during the third inning, they added to their lead with another home run. Leading off the top-half of the inning, Byron Buxton jumped on the first pitch he saw, smashing it to a 106 MPH exit velocity, making it 5-0 Twins. Twins pitchers continued to dominate Yankees' hitting, keeping New York with one hit through 5 2/3 innings. Caleb Thielbar and Kyle Barraclough, who was recalled from Saint Paul earlier today (with Brent Rooker going on the paternity list), delivered two quick, scoreless innings in relief of Farrell. But in the sixth inning, Barraclough got huge help from the outfield defense behind him, as Max Kepler made some crucial plays in right field, robbing New York of at least an extra-base hit that could spark a rally. They did score a run on a sac-fly from DJ LeMahieu, scoring Tyler Wade from third. Terrible umpiring helps the Yankees to rally back Tyler Duffey came into the game to get the last out of the sixth immediately after Barraclough gave up a two-out hit. He opened the seventh fanning Giancarlo Stanton, but he gave up a solo home run to Joey Gallo, cutting Minnesota’s lead to three. He came back to pitch the eighth, but he got some awful calls from home plate umpire Jeff Nelson, who missed at least four calls during that inning. Brent Gardner “drew a walk” on a ball four that was most certainly a strike (pitch #6 below). That put two men on, and Rocco Baldelli pulled Duffey off the game. Alexander Colomé came in to face Aaron Judge, who hit a three-run home run, tying the game at five. Colomé struck out the side in the bottom of the ninth, taking the game to extra innings. All Minnesota was able to do during the 10th inning was to move up the ghost runner on a sacrifice groundout. In the bottom half, Gary Sánchez hit a line drive to left, deep enough to score Gleyber Torres from second, winning the game for New York. Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet THU FRI SAT SUN MON TOT Farrell 32 0 12 0 34 78 Minaya 0 40 0 17 0 57 Duffey 0 11 0 0 38 49 Colomé 0 12 0 0 27 39 Coulombe 15 0 23 0 0 38 Moran 0 0 0 37 0 37 Thielbar 0 0 26 0 11 37 Garza Jr. 19 0 0 11 6 36 Alcalá 0 9 0 18 0 27 Barraclough 0 0 0 0 23 23
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