Game Recap #124: First Inning 5, Rest of Game 7

Well, that stunk.

Give the Twins credit.  They may not win very much, but they do keep coming up with new ways to lose.  You'd have thought that when you get a 5-0 lead in the first inning, you'd win the game.  Not so, not with this club, anyway.  The Twins did nothing on offense after the first inning, getting only four hits (two of them infield hits).  Meanwhile, Cleveland gradually got back into the game.  Kyle Gibson couldn't stop them, and Brian Duensing was unable to get the job done in relief.

Oswaldo Arcia hit his thirteenth homer last night.  His OPS is .749, which isn't bad at all, especially for a twenty-three-year-old.  I mean, it's not Mike Trout territory, but I don't think anyone was expecting him to be Mike Trout.  As was pointed out in the game log, he now has about 600 at-bats with an OPS+ of 103.  At his age, that's pretty good.

And yet, I think most people view his season as a disappointment.  The thing is that his numbers, while decent, are not particularly better than last year.  They're slightly better, but not significantly so.  He still looks like he belongs in the big leagues, but he hasn't taken a step forward the way many hoped he would.  So the question is, will he take that step forward in the future?  Or is this as good as Arcia is ever going to be?

I have no idea.  He's certainly young enough to improve.  The Twins clearly believe in him, and I think we need to give them some credit here.  I've been critical of their refusal to stick by young players sometimes, but they've stuck by Arcia.  It would've been easy to point to his batting average and his strikeouts and his sometimes wild swings and start putting a mediocre veteran in right field.  They haven't done that.  When Arcia's been healthy, he's played.

And given who the Twins are, that makes sense.  After all, it's not like he's gone backward.  He just hasn't moved significantly forward.  But it makes sense to give him a good long chance to see what he can become.  The Twins seem to be doing that, and I think they deserve some credit for it.

So tonight we get to see Ricky Nolasco, who to put it bluntly, has been awful this year.  Based on his last performance, the time on the DL did not particularly help.  But in baseball, hope springs eternal.  As we've seen, even a bad pitcher can have a good game once in a while.  Maybe tonight will be Nolasco's night.  There's only thirty-eight games left, so it's time to start that season-ending winning streak!  We'll just have to settle for 93-69!

8 thoughts on “Game Recap #124: First Inning 5, Rest of Game 7”

  1. One thing I noticed about the game was how many times the reliever Tito inserted succeeded at doing what he was brought in to do. Made me curious about relief pitching since we're pretty aware of the issues on offense (if you're not aware, some examples below)

    The Twins bullpen has allowed 58 inherited runners to score, 31 of them between Swizliestick (12), Duence (11) and Thielbar (8). The bullpen is actually 6th in the league in ERA (3.36) but 2nd* in Innings pitched (404.1) and 11th in BAA (.253).
    League averages: 3.63 ERA, 381 IP and .242 BAA.

    *Cleveland is 1st with 409.1 Innings pitched but a 2.88 ERA. They have allowed 52 inherited runners to score.

    I know these statistics aren't the most accurate way to portray how well a bullpen is pitching, but they were the easiest to put together quickly. What they suggest to me is that the bullpen is being asked to do more (due to a younger and/or ineffective starting staff) but is performing about average or a bit below average, which will result in games like last night.

    Obviously, this is compounded by a team that seems to know how to start a game at the plate (especially recently), but then not hit during the middle innings. Amazingly, they currently lead the majors in runs scored in the 9th inning (68), have the 4th most in the 8th inning (65) and 6th most in the 7th (62). They're in the top third in runs scored in innings 1-3 and 7-9, but bottom third during innings 4-6 (dead last in runs scored in the 6th with 41).
    They're also leading the majors in runners left in scoring position at 3.8 per game and a .248 team average with RISP. They're getting guys on base, but not doing so well at bringing them home.

  2. When Arcia's been healthy, he's played.

    This is why I think its a bit unfair to worry about his lack of improvement from last year to this year. If he stays at an OPS of about .730 next year, then sure, but I'd say he's off to a pretty good start in the majors. If Buxton recovers from this concussion stuff, the Twins will be looking at a really solid outfield in a couple years.

    1. And it could well be that he's been hampered by injuries. And even if not, it's not that unusual for a player that young to not progress much from his first year to his second. I'm sure hoping to see a step forward next year, though.

      1. I'm with you. I'm thinking that experiencing a 'full' season in the majors should provide a positive impact ... both in his abilities on the field, and in my (our) expectations for the young man (I know it's a bit cliché, but I'll say it anyway - he won't be 24 until next May...wowsers).

  3. The improvement in Arcia is that he's not constantly moving between AAA and the Twins. Last year, he'd get hot in AAA, come up for a week or two and hit and then slump and get sent down and then repeat. This year, he's worked through the slumps at the major league level with an occasional off day vs. lefties when struggling, which I think has been a great way to help him. Really, he's had one really bad slump but has been very good otherwise. After the June 11 game, he had an .845 OPS. Then he went 0-for-29 in 8 games with 2 BBs and 12 Ks. Since he ended that slump on June 25, he has an .829 OPS. When he ended that slump, he didn't hit a HR for a while, so I think that was when Bruno was working with him at counting down his swing, making more contact and looking for better pitches to hit. Right now he's at 108 OPS+ for the season, which is the worst OPS+ for the three 23 year old players the Twins have on the team. That's outstanding. However, Arcia's track record in the minors is better than either Santana or Vargas, plus he's had more experience in AAA and the majors, so I wouldn't be surprised to see him finish better than either one of them. Even at this point, I think we can say Arcia has taken a step forward. Maybe not a big one, but it is forward. Not only has his OPS+ gone from 101 to 108, he also has improved his K/BB ratio. His batting average has dropped 21 points, but his BABIP has dropped 44 points, so with better luck he'll be showing even better numbers.

    1. If things go right, the Twins could actually have a pretty decent lineup next year. If Santana and Dozier continue to hit, that's not bad for one-two. Mauer being Mauer would be good at three. If Vargas is for real and Arcia moves forward, that could be a pretty good four-five. Plouffe would be okay if he could hit sixth rather than in the middle of the lineup. If Suzuki and Escobar continue to hit, that's not bad for seven-eight. Or, if Parmelee could improve, he could hit sixth or seventh and move Suzuki and Escobar down a notch.

      There are all kinds of things that could go wrong in that scenario, of course. But if it all went right, that wouldn't be bad at all.

        1. Don't worry about it. I'm sure he's excellent at all the things you can't see on the field.

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