2019 Recap: Game One Hundred Eighteen

CLEVELAND 7, MINNESOTA 3 IN MINNESOTA (10 INNINGS)

Date:  Sunday, August 11.

Batting stars:  Luis Arraez was 2-for-3 with two RBIs.  Eddie Rosario was 2-for-4 with two doubles and two runs.  Marwin Gonzalez was 2-for-4 with a double.  C. J. Cron was 2-for-4.

Pitching stars:  Jose Berrios pitched six innings, giving up three runs on six hits and a walk and striking out four.  Trevor May retired all five batters he faced, striking out two.

Opposition stars:  Aaron Civale pitched six innings, giving up one run on four hits and no walks and striking out five.  Carlos Santana was 2-for-5 with a grand slam (his twenty-fifth homer), two runs, and five RBIs.  Greg Allen was 2-for-5 with a home run (his third) and two runs.  Francisco Lindor was 1-for-3 with a double, two walks, and two runs.

The game:  The Indians jumped on Berrios for two runs in the first inning.  Allen hit a one-out homer, followed by a walk to Santana and a double by Yasiel Puig.  The Twins got on the board in the second, as Rosario doubled and scored on a pair of fly outs.  Cleveland got the run back in the third when Lindor doubled and scored on a Santana single.

The score was 3-1, and it stayed there for quite some time.  The Twins had a chance in the fifth, getting one-out singles from Cron and Gonzalez, but the next two batters could not get the ball out of the infield.  Each team had two on with none out in the seventh, but neither could score.

Rosario led off the ninth with a double.  With one out, Arraez had an RBI single to cut the lead to 3-2.  Cron followed with a single, putting men on first and second, and was pinch-run for with Ehire Adrianza.  Gonzalez then delivered an RBI double to tie the score, but Adrianza was thrown out trying to score from first base.  Jonathan Schoop grounded out to end the inning, but the Twins had scored two in the bottom of the ninth to tie it 3-3.

It didn't stay tied long.  Taylor Rogers came in to pitch the tenth and gave up a single to Kevin Plawecki.  A walk to Lindor and a bunt single by Allen filled the bases.  Santana emptied them with a grand slam, and the game was gone.  The Twins went down on three ground outs in the bottom of the tenth.

WP:  Brad Hand (5-3).  LP:  Rogers (2-3).  S:  None.

Notes:  Max Kepler remains in center field and Gonzalez played right with Byron Buxton out.  Arraez was the DH with Nelson Cruz out.  I don't know why you wouldn't rather have Arraez at third and Miguel Sano as the DH, but there you have it.

Arraez is now batting .350.  Since the last recap, Jorge Polanco fell below .300 and is batting .295.  Ryne Harper retired both men he faced and has an ERA of 2.96.  Rogers allowed four runs in a third of an inning and has an ERA of 2.68.

There seems to be a perception among Twins fans (not necessarily here) that Berrios has been somewhat of a disappointment.  Not that he's been terrible, but that he's not been as good as he should be.  It's simply not true.  Even with the terrible Atlanta game, his season numbers are 10-6, 3.29, 1.15 WHIP.  Those are excellent numbers.  He had a 2.06 ERA and 0.97 WHIP in June and a 2.43 ERA with a 1.18 WHIP in July.  Even his "bad" games (again, other than the Atlanta game) have been like yesterday--not dominant, but still keeping his team in the game.  If he's been a disappointment, it's because the expectations for him were unreasonable.  People expect him to be dominant every single time, and nobody can do that.  The Twins have some problems, but Berrios is not one of them.

It's never literally true that one play cost you a game.  There are all sorts of things that could've gone differently, and if they had the game would've been different.  Even after Adrianza was thrown out, Schoop could've gotten a hit and won the game.  The Twins could've taken advantage of their chances in the fifth and seventh, or just generally scored more than one run in the first eight innings.  Berrios could've not given up two runs in the first, putting the Twins in an immediate hole.  Rogers didn't have to give up the grand slam.  And it's also not a given that the Twins would've won it in the ninth had Adrianza been held at third--we don't know what would've happened next.  What we do know is that Adrianza was thrown out on a play where the only chance he had to score was on a Cleveland error, and that did a lot of damage to the Twins' chances.

After the game Rocco talked a lot of nonsense about how the Indians made a perfect relay.  I really can't criticize him for that.  His only other option, really, was to throw his third base coach under the bus, and that wouldn't have been a good thing to do.  I hope it was addressed privately, but public criticism would not have been helpful in this case.

So, after roughly seventy-three percent of the season has been played, Minnesota and Cleveland have exactly the same records.  How they got there may affect our perceptions and feelings, but from here on out it's basically irrelevant.  They say that a baseball season is a marathon and not a sprint, but these two teams essentially have a forty-four game sprint for the division title.  Whoever has the better record in this forty-four game "season" will win.  It's as simple as that.

Record:  The Twins are 71-47, tied for first with Cleveland in the American League Central.

Projected record:  We'll just have to settle for 115-47!

18 thoughts on “2019 Recap: Game One Hundred Eighteen”

  1. Pessimist in me:

    * FO totally dropped the ball on improving our starting rotation and even if we win the AL Central or get into Wildcard we will be huge underdogs in playoffs and we didn't need to be
    * The Twins are 24-25 and have been essentially a .500 ball club for more than 30% of a 162 game season
    * We have an unqualified buffoon for a 3rd base coach

    Realist in me:

    * Fan Graphs still has the Twins as a 60/40 favorite to win the division
    * 5 of the 6 sports books I looked at this morning have the Twins anywhere from a 55/45 to 60/40 favorite to win the division
    * We will be getting Cruz, Buxton, Pineda, and Dyson back from the IL over the next few days/weeks - those should all be both on field quality and off field morale boosts
    * We have a clear strength of schedule advantage

    My attitude right now:

    * I hate they way the Pohlads manage this team and I am not impressed with this FO - I have heard all the arguments defending them and they do not sway me - HOWEVER - Im ready to let it go and enjoy a 7 week pennant race without the constant GOSO comments and attitude (for real)
    * If I were to place a bet - I would bet the Twins win the division - I don't care what idiots on ESPN say, I don't care what idiots on Minneapolis sports radio say - I do care what stat geeks and professional sports bettors say - and they all say its anywhere from 60/40 to 55/45 advantage Twins even with how bad this last week has been (I still think the Twins are huge underdogs in any wildcard matchup even if they are hosting and any ALDS matchup - but again - that doesn't matter now and pennant races are fun)
    * I do not think Diaz should be fired - I'm not in the business of calling for people to be fired. I think Baldelli deserves a shit ton of credit for how he has handled this team as a rookie manager and I think he will figure out how to handle this situation. I do think its a situation that needs to be handled in some say

    1. I'm pretty neutral right now on Falvey/Levine. I mean, they look like roses compared to Billy Smith/Terry Ryan (version 2) since they haven't made any nightmare trades and actually value statistics, but I think it's too early to anoint them top in the league or anything. When they came over we heard all about how they were in part responsible for Cleveland's great pitching core, so we'll see if they can develop something similar here.

      1. Pessimisti in me doubts they will ever have the budget and freedom they need to be really successful but I am willing to be hopeful - they made great signings this first offseason.

        Realist in me has accepted that the Twins ceiling is being competitive in AL Central but another World Series just isn't likely. So Im going to enjoy the pennant race.

    2. * We will be getting Cruz, Buxton, Pineda, and Dyson back from the IL over the next few days/weeks - those should all be both on field quality and off field morale boosts

      Losing your best fielder and hitter hurts a lot. That's nearly 7 rWAR missing from the lineup this series.

      1. I think the point that gets lost with Kepler playing CF isn't so much whether he's a good CF (he seems fine, though nowhere near Buxton level), it's that whoever you put out in RF isn't going to be anywhere near Kepler's ability (UZR has him as one of the best in the game, Cave and Marwin are both squarely negative).

      2. Yes - I think these returns are big. I also think the recklessness in which Buxton had his last injury - so quickly after returning from another running into wall injury is of concern. But these guys are going to make a difference down the stretch.

    3. I agree, in theory, on the failure to add a starting pitcher. The problem is that there are other teams, too. I am having trouble coming up with an actual scenario where they screwed up.

      Greinke? no trade clause

      Thor? Can't trade a current contributer. It wouldn't have moved the needle

      Strohman? This one seems like it could have happened. It sounds like Toronto moved to quickly and could have gotten more. On the other hand, I'd only put strohman 3rd on this team. An improvement but not an ace.

      1. I'm less concerned with the trade deadline than the trade offseason, though it's difficult there too as some of the coveted free agent pickups have bombed so far this year.

        I think a point Geoff has been trying to make is that from a fan's standpoint--heck even from a reporter's standpoint--we actually have no idea how close or realistic any specific trade or pickup is. All we can do is evaluate the results on our end. And they're not great lately.

        On my end, I see a team that is 5th in the AL in E.R.A. In 2006, we had the best pitching staff and didn't do enough to upgrade the hitters. I'm sure it's really tough to get a team that is top 3 in both, but it'd be nice if we could every once in a while. I wonder how much of that is not due to pickups/trades as it is simply development, as I'm beginning to believe that development matters just as much these days as does scouting/signing.

        1. My top criticism of this front office was the trade of Presley. I was critical at the time since he had another year of team control and baseball prospectus had just done the article on how good he was. I think they got fleeced.

        2. I think a point Geoff has been trying to make is that from a fan's standpoint--heck even from a reporter's standpoint--we actually have no idea how close or realistic any specific trade or pickup is. All we can do is evaluate the results on our end. And they're not great lately.

          Very well stated!

          I would also say that while getting an "ace" would have been ideal - even with the big names Algonad mentioned not being realistic - I would have liked to have seen the FO go get a solid #3 starter to slot behind Odorizzi and Berrios and it doesn't appear to me (from the fan standpoint) that there was any effort or consideration at all along that front.

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