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!