MINNESOTA 6, SEATTLE 5 IN MINNESOTA
Date: Tuesday, June 11.
Batting stars: Jorge Polanco was 3-for-3 with two doubles. Jonathan Schoop was 1-for-4 with a two-run homer, his twelfth. Jason Castro was 1-for-3 with a home run, his eighth.
Pitching stars: Tyler Duffey pitched a perfect inning and struck out one. Matt Magill pitched a perfect inning and struck out one. Trevor May pitched a scoreless inning, giving up two hits and striking out one.
Opposition stars: Domingo Santana was 3-for-5 with two runs. Mallex Smith was 2-for-4 with a walk and two runs. Kyle Seager was 2-for-5. Edwin Encarnacion was 1-for-3 with a three-run homer (his twenty-first) and two walks. Mike Leake pitched seven innings, giving up three runs on six hits and no walks and striking out six.
The game: The Mariners put together a pair of two-out singles and Encarnacion hit a three-run homer in the third to give Seattle a 3-0 lead. The Twins tied it in the fourth. Eddie Rosario led off the inning with a double, and with two out Schoop and Castro hit back-to-back homers, tying the score at 3-3.
The Mariners got the lead back in the fifth. A pair of walks preceded an RBI single by Dan Vogelbach to make it 4-3. Seager's run-scoring single in the seventh increased the lead to 5-3.
The Twins took their only lead, but the only lead they would need, in the eighth. Max Kepler and Polanco led off the inning with back-to-back doubles to cut the lead to 5-4. Nelson Cruz walked, a fly out put men on first and third, and a wild pitch tied the score 5-5. With two out, Marwin Gonzalez delivered a single that scored Cruz and put the Twins up 6-5. All they needed to do was retire Seattle in the ninth to win the game.
And they did, but it wasn't easy. Smith and Santana led off the inning with singles, putting men on first and second with Encarnacion at bat. But he was caught looking at a third strike (the game log indicates it may not have been a correct call by the umpire), Vogelbach popped up, and Seager hit a fly to left. Victory was ours.
WP: Magill (2-0). LP: Brandon Brennan (2-5). S: May (1).
Notes: Gonzalez was at first base, replacing C. J. Cron.
Polanco raised his average to .341. Duffey has an ERA of 2.41. Ryne Harper pitched one inning and gave up one run, making his ERA 2.03.
I don't really understand why Duffey was not allowed to go more than one inning. Not that going to Harper is a dumb move or anything, but it means the Twins used four relief pitchers last night when they could perhaps have gotten by with three or even two. I still don't really understand how Rocco makes his bullpen decisions. I don't mean that as critically as it might sound--I'm sure he has reasons for what he does, and he's not obligated to explain them to me. And I actually like that he seems to be responding to specific situations rather than just reflexively going to "the ninth inning guy" or "the eighth inning guy". Also, I have to say that for the most part, whatever he's doing seems to be working. The Twins have bullpen problems, but I think Rocco has made the best of the situation so far.
Martin Perez appears to have regressed to the mean. Over his last six starts, he has an ERA of 5.59, not far off his ERA of 6.22 last season. I don't know how to calculate FIP, but the eye test tells me he has not been particularly unlucky. His first few starts as a Twin are looking more and more like a mirage. If he really was doing something different, as the media kept telling us, it looks like it didn't take long for the league to figure out what it was. He'll probably keep getting starts, though, because the Twins have nothing in AAA to replace him with other than possibly Devin Smeltzer, and there's certainly no guarantee that Smeltzer would be better. I assume Falvey and Levine are looking for help, just as I assume they're looking for bullpen help I have no idea what might be available or at what cost. But the Twins need better pitching if they're going to make a deep playoff run.
It's funny--all during the game last night I kept believing that the Twins were going to come back and take the lead. Whether they could keep the lead was another question, but when they were down 3-0, when they were down 4-3, when they were down 5-3, I was convinced that the offense would rally. It's nice to be able to have that kind of confidence in the team you root for.
Record: The Twins are 44-21, first in the American League Central, 10.5 games ahead of Cleveland.
Projected record: We're still on track for 141-21!