MINNESOTA 5, MILWAUKEE 3 IN MINNESOTA
Date: Tuesday, May 28.
Batting stars: Jorge Polanco was 2-for-4. Eddie Rosario was 1-for-4 with a home run, his seventeenth.
Pitching stars: Devin Smeltzer struck out seven in six shutout innings, giving up three hits and no walks. Matt Magill pitched a scoreless inning, giving up a hit and striking out one.
Opposition stars: Zach Davies pitched six shutout innings, giving up five hits and two walks and striking out four. Yasmani Grandal was 2-for-4 with a home run (his eleventh) and a triple. Ryan Braun was 2-for-4 with two doubles. Keston Hiura was 1-for-3 with a two-run homer, his third.
The game: Each team wasted a leadoff extra-base hit in the second, as Grandal tripled leading off the top of the inning and Sano doubled to start the bottom half. The Twins put two on with one out in the third on singles by Astudillo and Polanco. Braun doubled to lead off the fourth and again to lead off the seventh. Still, the game remained scoreless through six and a half.
In the bottom of the seventh, Castro led off with a single and a fielder's cholce-plus-error put men on second and third with none out. Max Kepler delivered a two-run double to put the Twins on the board. With one out, C. J. Cron doubled in a run and Rosario hit a two-run homer to put the Twins up 5-0 and seemingly in control of the game.
"Seemingly" because the Brewers came right back in the eighth. Hernan Perez led off with a single and Hiura hit a two-run homer to cut the lead to 5-2. Grandal led of the ninth with a home run to make it 5-3. That was it, though, as two relievers retired the next three batters to end the game without the tying run coming to bat.
WP: Magill (1-0). LP: Alex Claudio (0-1). S: Ryne Harper (1).
Notes: Cron was the DH in this game, with Marwin Gonzalez at first base. Byron Buxton was injured in the second inning trying to catch Grandal's triple, which resulted in multiple position changes. Kepler moved from right to center, Rosario moved from left to right. Gonzalez moved from first to left, and Willians Astudillo entered the game at first base. In the seventh, Jason Castro came out of the game for pinch-runner Ehire Adrianza, which led to Astudillo going behind the plate and Adrianza taking over first base.
Polanco is now batting .335. Smeltzer has an ERA of zero. Magill has an ERA of 1.42. Blake Parker gave up two runs on three hits in an inning and has an ERA of 1.96. Taylor Rogers gave up a run on one hit in two-thirds of an inning and has an ERA of 2.38. Harper retired the only man he faced and has an ERA of 1.61.
Buxton does not appear to be seriously injured, and in fact wanted to stay in the game. Reports this morning are that he has a bruised right knee. You can't fault the Twins for being careful with him. Today's off day will help, but he might well sit out a day or two. Fortunately, it does not appear that it will be any more than that.
I don't think you can say enough about how well Smeltzer pitched. Six shutout innings. Seven strikeouts. Three hits. No walks. From a guy who had made all of four starts above AA. What impressed me most--other than his stat line--is that he wasn't afraid to throw the ball over the plate. He's never walked many guys--his walks per nine in the minors is 2.0--but still, a guy with this little experience is likely to be nervous and start nibbling. It didn't happen. Even after someone hit the ball hard, he came right back and threw strikes to the next batter. Each time he gave up a hit, he came back to strike out the next batter. I don't fault Rocco for taking the six innings and getting him out of there, but he threw only 69 pitches in six innings, 53 of them strikes. He retired the last eight batters he faced. There's no obvious reason he couldn't have pitched seven or even eight innings.
I would not have pulled Rogers with two out in the ninth. Yes, Perez had doubled off him the night before, but that doesn't convince me that Rogers couldn't have gotten him out last night. I'll say this for Rocco, though--for all the talk about him being The Millenial Manager, he's shown he really couldn't care less about helping any individual's stat line. He pulled Rogers when he was one out away from a save. He pulled Jose Berrios in the fifth inning with a big lead, rather than leave him in to try to get the win. And you remember that he pulled Jake Odorizzi in the first inning when he had given up just two runs at the time he was taken out. You can agree or disagree with those individual moves, but the point is that Rocco has on several occasions sent a message that he doesn't care about your feelings or your stat line. He's not concerned with who gets the W or the S. He's concerned that the team gets the W, and he's going to do what he thinks is most likely to make that happen. It seems to me that's a pretty good message to send.
I have nothing to say about this that hasn't already been said, but I feel like the recap would not be complete if I did not point out that we are now exactly one-third of the way through the season, the Twins are twenty games over .500, and they have a ten game lead in the division standings.
Record: The Twins are 37-17, first in the American League Central, ten games ahead of Cleveland.
Projected record: We're still on track for 145-17!