Tag Archives: Brusdar Graterol

2019 Recap: Game One Hundred Fifty-six

MINNESOTA 12, KANSAS CITY 8 IN MINNESOTA

Date:  Sunday, September 22.

Batting stars:  Eddie Rosario was 3-for-4 with three doubles, a walk, and three RBIs.  Nelson Cruz was 2-for-3 with a home run (his fortieth), two walks, and four runs.  Miguel Sano was 2-for-4 with two home runs (his thirty-second and thirty-third), a walk, and four RBIs.  Jorge Polanco was 2-for-4 with a double, a walk, and three runs.  Marwin Gonzalez was 2-for-4 with a walk and three RBIs.

Pitching stars:  Tyler Duffey struck out the side in a perfect inning.  Trevor May pitched a scoreless inning, giving up a hit and a walk and striking out one.  Cody Stashak struck out two in a scoreless inning, giving up one hit.  Brusdar Graterol struck out the side in a perfect inning.

Opposition stars:  Whit Merrifield was 3-for-4 with a stolen base, his nineteenth.  Nicky Lopez was 2-for-3 with two doubles, a walk, and two runs.

The game:  The Royals started the game with singles by Merrifield and Adalberto Mondesi, then immediately pulled off a double steal to put men on second and third with none out.  They did not score, however, as the next three batters failed to get the ball out of the infield.

The Twins responded with a big bottom of the first.  With one out, Polanco and Cruz singled and Rosario followed with an RBI double.  With two out, Gonzalez singled home a run and Sano came through with a three-run homer.  It did not kill the rally, as Jake Cave walked and LaMonte Wade and Luis Arraez singled.  It was a 6-0 Twins lead, and they then cruised to an easy victory.

Well, not quite.  Nick Dini hit a two-run homer in the second to cut the lead to 6-2.  In the third, Lopez and Jorge Soler hit back-to-back doubles, Hunter Dozier singled, a ground out scored a run, and Cheslor Cuthbert had an RBI single, cutting the margin to 6-5.  Sano homered in the bottom of the third to make it 7-5, but Lopez had an RBI double in the fourth to again cut the lead to one at 7-6.  Cruz hit a home run in the bottom of the fourth to put the difference back up to two at 8-6.

Things settled down a bit for a little while.  There was no more scoring until the sixth.  Polanco doubled, Cruz was intentionally walked, Rosario had an RBI double, and Gonzalez drove in a run with a single to make it 10-6.  They added two more in the seventh.  With two out, Polanco and Cruz walked, Rosario had another RBI double, and Jason Castro and Gonzalez walked, giving the Twins a 12-6 advantage.  The Twins remained in control of the game the rest of the way.

No, not really.  They should have.  Fernando Romero came in to pitch the ninth with a six run lead.  No one needed their bats against him, as he went strikeout, walk, walk, strikeout, walk.  With the bases loaded and two down, Rocco had seen enough and brought in Sergio Romo.  He immediately walked two men, making the score 12-8 and bringing the tying run to the plate.  Finally, however, he struck out Alex Gordon and the victory went to the Twins.

WP:  Zack Littell (6-0).  LP:  Jorge Lopez (4-9).  S:  None.

Notes:  LaMonte Wade was in center in the continuing absence of Byron Buxton.  Jake Cave was in right in the absence of Max Kepler.  Marwin Gonzalez was at first base in the continuing absence of C. J. Cron.  Mitch Garver started the game at catcher, but was removed in the fifth due to "right hip tightness".  I have no information on how serious it is.

Luis Arraez was 1-for-6 and is batting .343.  Cruz is batting .303.  His home run, as I'm sure you know, was the four hundredth of his career.

Zack Littell has an ERA of 2.83.  Tyler Duffey is at 2.26.

Remember when Miguel Sano was a total bust, and the Twins should either send him to Rochester or just DFA him?

I seem to hear from a lot of Twins fans who aren't really enjoying this run for the division title.  They keep saying, "But with our pitching, we won't do anything in the playoffs."  I actually agree with that assessment, although with the caveat that it's baseball and you never know.  But even so, that doesn't mean we can't enjoy the success we're having in the regular season.

I think part of the problem is that a lot of fans have no confidence in the Twins' ability to take the next step next year.  They don't see this as a division title this year, maybe a deep playoff run the next year, then a world championship.  Their fear is that this is a one-off, and next year we'll be back to mediocrity.  I understand that.  We've never really seen a Twins team that was able to take that next step.  The division championships in the first decade of the 2000s were accompanied by post-season futility.  The two world championships were not the culmination of a steady building phase--they came from bad teams becoming good in a single bound, and then dropping back to mediocrity or worse within a couple of years.  We have no experience with a Twins team going from good to better to best.

I think there are reasons to think this Twins team could, though.  The biggest one is the number of young players who are having success this season.  Front and center, of course, is Arraez, who is batting .343 with an OPS of .851.  But look at the pitchers:

Littell, 2.83 ERA, 1.23 WHIP.
Cody Stashak, 3.13 ERA, 1.22 WHIP.
Randy Dobnak, 2.01 ERA, 1.39 WHIP.
Brusdar Graterol, 4.32 ERA, 1.20 WHIP.

Granted, we're dealing with some small sample sizes, but these guys have all been put into games in important situations and have, for the most part, come through.  There's every reason to think they are legitimate big leaguers, and that there are more coming.

I don't remember the last time the Twins brought up this many young players and had them perform well.  Part of the reason for that is that, before this year, they would not have been given the chance.  Arraez would never have been brought up with so little AAA experience--they'd have found a veteran middle infielder to fill in.  And if injuries had forced them to bring Arraez up for a week or two, he'd have been sent back as soon as the veterans got healthy.  It would've been "Nice job, kid.  Now go back to AAA and prove you belong here."  On the pitching staff, we'd still be bumbling along with people like Matt MagillBlake Parker, and Mike Morin, because "They've been around.  They know how to pitch."  Current management should be given credit not just for their role in developing these players, but for actually giving them the chance to play.  There are never guarantees, but it gives me a lot of hope that this year is not just a one-off, but is instead building toward something even better in years to come.

Record:  The Twins are 96-60, in first place in the American League Central, four games ahead of Cleveland.  Their magic number is three.

Projected record:  We're still on track for 102-60!

2019 Recap: Game One Hundred Thirty-nine

BOSTON 6, MINNESOTA 2 IN BOSTON

Date:  Wednesday, September 4.

Batting stars:  C. J. Cron was 2-for-3 with a walk.  Miguel Sano was 2-for-3 with a walk.  Eddie Rosario was 2-for-4 with a two-run homer, his twenty-eighth.

Pitching stars:  Cody Stashak pitched 1.2 scoreless innings, giving up one hit and striking out one.  Brusdar Graterol pitched a scoreless inning, giving up a walk.

Opposition stars:  Eduardo Rodriguez struck out eight in seven shutout innings, giving up five hits and four walks.  Mookie Betts was 4-for-5 with two home runs (his twenty-fourth and twenty-fifth) and five RBIs.  Christian Vasquez was 2-for-4 with a double.  Brock Holt was 2-for-4.

The game:  Betts led off the bottom of the first with a home run, giving the Red Sox a 1-0 lead.  The Twins put men on first and third with two out in the second but could not score.  With one out in the bottom of the second, Vazquez singled, Jackie Bradley walked, and Betts homered again, putting Boston up 4-0.

The game was basically over at that point, because the Twins could not score against Rodriguez.  They threatened in the fourth, opening the inning with two singles, but a double play ended the threat.  The Red Sox added two more in the sixth, as Holt led off with a single, Mitch Moreland walked, Vasquez doubled, and Betts delivered a one-out single.

The Twins got on the board in the eighth, as Nelson Cruz singled and Rosario hit a two-run homer.  All that did was avoid a shutout, though.  They got a pair of one-out walks in the ninth, but a double play ended the game.

WP:  Rodriguez (17-5).  LP:  Jose Berrios (11-8).  S:  Brandon Workman (11).

Notes:  Max Kepler remains in center with Byron Buxton on the bench.  Jake Cave was in right field.  Kepler left the game with an injured chest, according to the play-by-play.  I don't know anything about what happened or how serious it is.  Willians Astudillo was behind the plate.

Luis Arraez entered the game as a defensive replacement and walked in his only time to the plate, so his batting average remains .343.  Cruz was 1-for-5 and is batting .308.  Jorge Polanco was 0-for-4 and is batting .302.  Graterol has an ERA of zero in two games.

You never like to lose, of course, but the loss in itself is not a big deal.  The Twins have won nine of eleven--you're not going to win them all.  Rodriguez is a good pitcher--the Twins aren't the first team he's shut down and they won't be the last.  It happens.

The concern, though, is the continuing question of "What's Wrong With Jose Berrios?"  Rocco tried to pass it off as just getting beat by one great player, Betts, which I might be able to buy if this was just a random bad game.  It's clearly not.  His average game score for the six starts prior to this one was thirty-six, and while I don't have access to last night's game score I don't think it helped that average much.  He hasn't had a good game since July 31, when he dominated a bad Miami team.

My guess--and I emphasize that's all it is--is that he's hiding an injury, and that it's working about as well as it usually does.  Again, I have no solid evidence to support that.  It just seems like the majority of the time, when a good player suddenly isn't, there's a physical reason why.  If so, then ten out of ten for being a tough guy and a gamer, but minus several hundred for good sense.  The way he's pitching now the Twins have to score about ten runs to win, and not even the Twins can do that consistently.

The Twins basically have about three and a half weeks to figure this out.  They can win the division without a healthy and effective Berrios, but they can't win in the playoffs without him.  As it stands right now, the Twins basically have two reliable starters--Jake Odorizzi and Michael Pineda.  I know they won in 1987 with two reliable starters, but it wasn't easy then, and with the extra levels of playoffs it's pretty much impossible now.  The only way you can do it is if you have such an awesome and resilient bullpen that you can consistently go to it in the third or fourth inning and win, and while the Twins bullpen has been better it's not in that category.  The only way the Twins have a chance in the post-season is if Jose Berrios pitches like he did in the first four months of the season.  The Twins have the rest of this month to figure out how to make that happen.

Record:  The Twins are 86-53, in first place in the American League Central, 5.5 games ahead of Cleveland.

Projected record:  We'll just have to settle for 109-53!

2019 Recap: Game One Hundred Thirty-six

MINNESOTA 8, DETROIT 3 IN DETROIT

Date::  Sunday, September 1.

Batting stars:  Nelson Cruz was 3-for-5 with two RBIs.  Luis Arraez was 2-for-5 with a double and two runs.  Jake Cave was 2-for-5 with two RBIs.  Jorge Polanco was 2-for-5.

Pitching stars:  Michael Pineda struck out nine in six innings, giving up two runs on five hits and a walk.  Sergio Romo pitched a perfect inning and struck out one.  Brusdar Graterol pitched a scoreless inning, giving up two hits.

Opposition stars:  Brandon Dixon was 2-for-3 with a double and a walk.  Jordy Mercer was 2-for-4 with a home run, his seventh.  Victor Reyes was 2-for-4.

The game:  Neither team did much in the first inning, but that changed quickly in the second.  With one out, Miguel Sano walked, Arraez doubled, and Jake Cave delivered a two-run single.  Willians Astudillo was then hit by a pitch and Jason Castro had an RBI single to make it 3-0.  With two out, RBI singles by Polanco and Cruz built the lead to 5-0.

The Tigers got one back in the bottom of the second on doubles by Dawel Lugo and Dixon.  Neither team did much in the third and fourth, but each team scored one in the fifth.  The Twins got their run when Arraez singled, went to second on a ground out, and scored on an Astudillo single.  In the bottom of the fifth Dixon walked, went to third on a pair of wild pitches, and scored on a Reyes single, leaving the score 6-2.  Mercer homered in the seventh to cut the margin to 6-3.

The Twins put it out of reach in the eighth.  Astudillo was again hit by a pitch.  There was still a man on first with two out, but singles by PolancoCruz, and Rosario brought home two runs and put the Twins up 8-3.  The Detroit threatened in the ninth, getting one-out singles by Dixon and Mercer, but a double play ended the game.

WP:  Pineda (11-5).  LP:  Spencer Turnbull (3-14).  S:  None.

Notes:  Max Kepler was in center field in the absence of Byron Buxton.  Buxton did come in to play defense in the ninth.  Jake Cave was in right field, but moved to center when Kepler came out of the game in the seventh.  LaMonte Wade took over in right field, and Cave came out of the game when Buxton came in.  Astudillo started at first base, but was replaced by C. J. Cron in the eighth.

Arraez is batting .333.  Cruz is batting .309.  Polanco is batting .302.

Graterol made his major league debut and has an ERA of 0.00.  Time will tell, but who knows?  Maybe this game will be remembered as the game in which Graterol began his major league career.  He struck out one batter, gave up one solid hit and one infield hit, and got a man to hit into a double play.  He also threw one to the backstop in an obvious effort to show the Twins brass he belongs on this pitching staff.  I hope next year he'll be given a chance to start, but I'm fine with him being in the bullpen for the rest of this season.

The Twins scored eight runs without a bomba.  Maybe they said and I missed it, but I wouldn't be surprised if that's the most runs they've scored this season without hitting a home run in the game.  I have nothing against home runs, but it is nice to be able to put up a big number without them, too.  It seems to me that the more ways you have that you can score runs, the more likely you are to score runs.  A team that can score by playing big ball and by playing small ball should score more runs than a team that can only do one of those things, no matter how good they are at the one thing they can do.

I know wins and losses are not a good way to judge a starting pitcher.  It does, however, say something about your ball club when you have a pitcher in your rotation whose record is 3-14.

Record:  The Twins are 84-52, in first place in the American League Central, 5.5 games ahead of Cleveland.

Projected record:  We're still on track for 110-52!