Tag Archives: Bomba Squad

Random Rewind: 2019, Game Forty-four


Date:  Friday, May 17.

Batting stars:  Ehire Adrianza was 2-for-3 with a home run (his third), two runs and two RBIs.  Max Kepler was 2-for-4 with three RBIs.  Marwin Gonzalez was 2-for-5 with two runs.

Pitching stars:  Martin Perez struck out seven in 6.2 innings, giving up one run on five hits and four walks.  Matt Magill struck out two in 1.1 scoreless innings, giving up a walk.  Mike Morin pitched a scoreless inning.

Opposition stars:  Austin Adams retired all six men he faced, striking out four.  Edwin Encarnacion was 2-for-3 with a double and a walk.  Dee Gordon was 2-for-4 with a stolen base, his twelfth.  Mitch Haniger was 0-for-1 with three walks.

The game:  The Mariners put men on second and third with one out in the first, but a pair of strikeouts ended the inning.  The Twins started the scoring in the third on Adrianza's solo home run.  In the fourth, the Twins opened the inning with consecutive singles by GonzalezC. J. CronWillians Astudillo, and Kepler, making the score 2-0.  They added one more on Adrianza's sacrifice fly to take a 3-0 lead.

The Twins built their lead some more in the fifth.  Jorge Polanco and Gonzalez singled and Cron walked, loading the bases with one out.  Astudillo hit a sacrifice fly, and an error moved everyone up a base.  Kepler then delivered a two-run single, making it 6-0 Twins.

Seattle got their lone run in the bottom of the fifth.  With two out Gordon singled, Haniger walked, and Encarnacion had an RBI single.  They had only one hit after that, a two-out double by J. P. Crawford in the sixth.  The Twins added a run in the ninth when Adrianza singled and scored from first on a two-out double by Jonathan Schoop.

WP:  Perez (6-1).  LP:  Marco Gonzales (5-3).  S:  None.

Notes:  Astudillo was the catcher in this game, one of 21 games he caught.  Mitch Garver and Jason Castro split the catching duties almost evenly, with Garver catching 82 games and Castro 78.

Adrianza was at third base.  Miguel Sano, who would become the third baseman, was just getting back from injury.  This was his second game of the season, and he was the DH.  Nelson Cruz, the regular DH, missed a few weeks due to injury.

Gonzalez was in left field in place of Eddie Rosario, who was apparently just given the day off.

The Twins did not make any position player substitutions.

Polanco was leading the team in batting at .331.  He would finish at .295.  Luis Arraez, who had not been brought up yet, would lead the team in batting at .334.  Cruz would be the only other .300 hitter, at .311.  The Twins were second in the league in batting at .270.

Cruz would lead the team in home runs with 41.  The Twins would have eleven batters who hit double-digit home runs:  Kepler (36), Sano (34), Rosario (32), Garver (31), Cron (25), Schoop (23), Polanco (22), Gonzalez (15), Castro (13), and Byron Buxton (10).  As you know, the Twins would set a new record for home runs in a season with 307.

Perez was 6-1, 2.89 at this point of the season.  Unfortunately, he couldn't sustain that, and ended up at 10-7, 5.12.  The Twins had three solid starters:  Jose Berrios (14-8, 3.68), Jake Odorizzi (15-7, 3.51), and Michael Pineda (15-11, 4.01).  They struggled after that, though, with Perez and Kyle Gibson (13-7, 4.84).  When Pineda was suspended they really struggled, which led to Randy Dobnak making a start in the playoffs.

The Twins used 31 pitchers in 2019.  So they won't be forgotten, let's tip our cap to Andrew Vasquez, Chase DeJongJorge Alcala, and Austin Adams, each of whom pitched one or two games for the Twins last season.

This was the fourth game of a five-game winning streak for the Twins.  After a loss they would win six more in a row, meaning they won eleven of twelve.

Record:  The Twins were 29-15, in first place in the American League Central, 5.5 games ahead of Cleveland.  They would finish 101-61, in first place, 8 games ahead of Cleveland.

The Mariners were 22-25, in fourth place in the American League West, nine games behind Houston.  They would finish 68-94, in fifth (last) place, 39 games behind Houston.

Rewind Record:  The Twins are 38-33 in Random Rewind games.


I figured I should write at least something on my obsession with the Twins home run record chase, but before I do, I would like to point out that the Twins staff has only allowed 195 homers this year. That's second in the AL behind Tampa, who just allowed one to the Yanks in two games.  In fact, let's look at the AL playoff teams (as of Wednesday):

Rays: 177
Twins: 195
A's: 200
Indians: 200
Astros: 226
Yankees: 244

So the Yankees have barely scored more than the Twins, give up way more homers, and have a worse ERA+.  So why have the Yankees been better?  The Yankees have given up 45 unearned runs. The Twins, 74.  Eeeg.  If the Twins lose in the playoffs because of their atrocious defense...

Anyway, back to bombas.

The Twins are up two homers with three games to go. Neither team is really playing for anything. For the Yankees to get home field, they'd have to sweep while the Astros get swept. Not likely. So it's reasonable to think both teams will be resting players. The Twins will be matching up Astudillo and Miller and Torreyes with the likes of Romine and Estrada and Wade.  And, honestly, probably Giancarlo Stanton, who needs some reps before the playoffs.  The Twins will likely play Schoop a lot, who if he can do anything it's hit bombs in low-pressure situations.

The Yanks are playing the Rangers, who have given up 17 more homers than the Royals.  The Rangers also play in a more homer friendly park.

Let's look at projected starters and their HR/9:

Rangers: Palumbo (2.6), TBD (?), Lynn (0.9)
Royals: Skoglund (1.5), Sparkman (2.1), Lopez (1.8)

I think I've finally come to the point where I'll be okay if the Twins don't get this record. Clinching the division has helped for sure. Though no promises if the Twins are leading by three homers on Sunday and the Yankees hit four.

Every time I've bitched to nibbish about the Yankees hitting homers, he has replied with "Don't worry, they've got this."


Game 102: Minnesota @ Chicago White Sox


Minnesota & Chicago have identical 3-7 records over their past 10 games and both have lost two in a row. The difference being, the Twins faced the Yankees, Athletics, Mets (derp) and Cleveland while Chicago managed that against the Marlins, Rays and Royals. On the season, Minnesota has scored 576 runs and given up 468 for a run differential of +108. The White Sox have plated 418 and given up 514 runs for a differential of -96.

So ... you're thinking this should be a bounce back game series after the heartbreaker on Tuesday and non-competitive start last night? We'll see - 24-year-old Chicago Ace and former 1st rounder Lucas Giolito has seemingly "figured it out" over 19 starts this year to the tune of 3.14 ERA, 1.092 WHIP, 134 K's in 112.2 innings pitched. He's leading his team in WAR at 3.8 (a full 'Win' ahead of their #2 player, catcher James McCann). All that said, 3 of his 4 losses have come in his past four starts (though the lone 'W' in there was against the Twins on June 30).

After watching Twins starters struggle mightily over the past 10 games (only Gibson secured a starter 'W'), it'd be nice to see José Berríos get the group back on more solid ground. Unfortunately, Berríos hasn't won a start since June 6 (1-3 w/ 4 no decisions) though he has had some nice games where the Ass Bats© did him no favors - he's had 5 or more runs of support only three times in that span. We can only hope that the seemingly awakened Bomba Squad continues to hit; José - and the club - could use a laugher.

2019 First Half Wrap

The 2019 Twins are officially half-baked. No, literally.

The Twins played their last game of the first half yesterday. It was another ugly end to a pretty solid game, which is hopefully sufficient signal to the front office to turn the pan & lower the heat. With the loss, the 2019 club fell from a tie with the 2001 Twins for the third-best winning percentage over the first half of a season since the franchise moved to Minnesota.


I've included the top six for two reasons. First, those are all the clubs with a .600 or above winning percentage in the first half. Second, those teams were not too bad: one pennant, two excellent division champs, a squad motivated by the owner's collusive attempt to contract the team, and the follow-up squad to the 1991 World Champions. The 1991 Twins were, in fact, the next team on the first-half leaderboard, at .566. So, how did these squads fare in the second half?


Here we see the challenge ahead. Each of these teams cooled off in the second half — it's pretty hard to continue winning nearly two-thirds of the games you play. The 1991 Twins make their appearance here, and it makes sense that the top four teams all won their divisions or better. The second half swoon that sunk the '92 Twins is modest compared to the bottom that fell out of the young League of Nations/Soul Patrol team. The 2019 Twins’ postseason odds — 99.3% at the end of the first half — are as encouraging as we’ve seen in years, behind one of the most impressive half-seasons in franchise history. (It beats 2011–2017, that’s for sure.) Oddly enough, their World Series odds increased after the loss yesterday, up to 14.2%.

Even with the bats of ass they've been swinging over the last couple weeks, the Bomba Squad has obliterated the ‘64 Twins’ first half record home run record by 41 bombas. The 166 homers of the first half equals the club's full-season total last year. Not bad. When healthy, there aren't many holes in this lineup. The injury bug has stretched the team thin, but the excellent depth of this roster has helped maintain altitude throughout the turbulence.

The most notable hole appears to be a solid, three-position reserve outfielder. Depending on who is available, Gonzalez, Astudillo, Adrianza, and Arraez have been able to plug holes in the corners, but none of them are natural outfielders. Jake Cave has been beyond mediocre — .176/.299/.243 (49 OPS+) — despite a slightly lower SO% and nearly double BB% over last season. His line drive rate is down from 31% to 24%, and his HR% has dropped 75% from last year. That all adds up to a BABIP .101 lower than 2018. His numbers at Rochester are actually significantly better this year than last season — .327/.370/.536 vs. .269/.352/.403 — which probably explains why he's continuing to be in the mix as guys cycle through the injured list. With three center field-capable starting outfielders, the Twins are in a much better position than they could be, were Cave their only alternative to Buxton.

Meanwhile, Luis Arraez has had an incredible first half. Even though his average finally fell below .400, he's still had one of the best starts to a rookie season in Twins history:


Here's a list of Twins who have equaled or exceeded Arraez' 1.0 rWAR in 200 or fewer PA:

1971J. Nettles241.2190

Arraez' hot start has been fueled by a .413 BABIP, which is higher than he's ever managed in the minors. He had a .376 BABIP through 164 PA at Pensacola this year, up from .315 over 195 PA in Chattanooga in 2018. His highest BABIP — .382 over 514 PA — came at Cedar Rapids in 2016. So, a high BABIP seems to be a repeatable skill for Arraez, even if it's a bit overinflated right now.

Finally, depth has been a sore spot in our conversations about the pitching staff. I'll admit that my mind has been shifting from bolstering the rotation to stacking the bullpen in recent weeks. Berríos has been awesome. Kyle Gibson is, at this point, Kyle Gibson. I'm holding my breath that Pineda's improvements hold, Odorizzi's blister heals, and Pérez stays in his May/June form. Two of those guys won't be starting games after September, assuming the season maintains the present course. Much as I hate paying through the nose for relievers — this was a very addressable problem between November and February — bullpen arms are what will allow the starters to stay fresh the rest of the way, and what will shut down strong opponents' lineups after the fifth inning in the postseason.

So, let's finish with a few questions:

  • Who has been the most pleasant surprise for you in 2019?
  • Who are you really done watching? What is next for that player, if you were GM?
  • What patches do you feel the roster most needs?
  • Who is on your trade deadline wishlist?
  • Who are you willing to part with to bring in talent you hope to acquire?
  • What position player will have the best second half?