Tag Archives: Jorge Polanco

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-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!

2019 Recap: Game One Hundred Thirty-three

MINNESOTA 10, CHICAGO 5 IN CHICAGO

Date:  Thursday, August 29.

Batting stars:  C. J. Cron was 3-for-5 with a home run (his twenty-second), a double, two runs, and three RBIs.  Jonathan Schoop was 3-for-5.  Nelson Cruz was 2-for-4 with a walk and three RBIs.  Jorge Polanco was 2-for-4 with a walk and two runs.  Jake Cave was 2-for-5 with two home runs, his sixth and seventh.  Eddie Rosario was 2-for-5.

PItching stars:  Jose Berrios struck out eight in six innings, giving up three runs on seven hits and two walks.  Randy Dobnak pitched three innings, giving up two unearned runs on five hits.

Opposition stars:  Jose Abreu was 4-for-5 with two doubles.  Eloy Jimenez was 2-for-5.  Josh Osich struck out three in two shutout innings, giving up a hit and a walk.  Jace Fry pitched two perfect innings and struck out one.

The game:  The Twins jumped on White Sox starter Dylan Cease right away, opening the game with five consecutive singles.  Luis ArraezPolanco, CruzRosario, and Ehire Adrianza all singled, and after a double play Cron delivered a single.  The six singles produced four runs for a 4-0 Twins lead.  Singles produced runs again in the second.  Schoop singled, Polanco walked, a wild pitch moved the runners up, and Cruz had a two-run single to make it 6-0.  In the third the Twins got impatient with singles, as Cave and Cron started the inning with home runs to increase the lead to 8-0.

Meanwhile, Chicago did nothing through the first three innings.  They threatened in the fourth.  Ryan Goins singled with one out, Abreu walked, and a wild pitch moved them up to second and third.  A pair of strikeouts followed, however, and the threat ended.  The White Sox did break through in the fifth.  Jimenez singled, Matt Skole doubled, and Yolmer Sanchez had an RBI single.  With one out, a wild pitch scored a second run, cutting the margin to 8-2.  They got one more in the sixth when Abreu doubled, went to third on a wild pitch, and scored on a Jimenez single, making the score 8-3.

It was pretty much over at that point.  The Twins loaded the bases with one out in the sixth and managed to score one on a sacrifice fly.  Cave homered leading off the seventh to make the score 10-3.  Chicago opened the seventh with singles by Sanchez and Adam Engel, but a line out and a double play terminated the inning.  They stated the eighth the same way, but a popup, a line out, and a ground out took care of things.

The White Sox did score twice in the ninth, mainly because Polanco temporarily forgot how to play defense.  He made two errors, allowing the first two batters of the inning to reach, and only a fine play by Schoop prevented him from making a third.  A run scored on that play and Abreu doubled home another run, but that was all Chicago got.

WP:  Berrios (11-7).  LP:  Cease (3-7).  S:  Dobnak (1).

Notes:  Arraez was at third base in place of Miguel Sano.  Jake Cave was in center in the continued absence of Byron Buxton.  Adrianza was again in right in the absence of Max Kepler.

Arraez is batting .335.

Dobnak's ERA remains at zero in seven major league innings.  He also got his first major league save.  He has been almost exclusively a starter in the minors, so the only other professional save he has came in 2017 at Elizabethton.  His rise is really rather remarkable.  He went to Alderson-Broddus College in Phillippi, West Virginia, the only major league player that school has produced.  He went undrafted and signed as a free agent with the Twins on July 31, 2017.  He made only six starts in the minors that year, five in Elizabethton and one in Cedar Rapids.  He was with the Kernels for all of 2018 and had a fine season, going 10-5, 3.14, 1.26 WHIP.  In 2019 he made four starts in Fort Myers, where he was almost unhittable, pitched in eleven games (10 starts) in Pensacola, appeared in nine games (7 starts) in Rochester, and here he is in the big leagues.  His combined minor league stats for this season are 12-4, 2.07, 0.98 WHIP.  He's twenty-four, so while there are not guarantees there's every reason to think he'll continue to improve.  A pretty cool story.

Berrios was better, although I don't think we're ready to say he's back  yet.  He did very well for four innings, then ran into trouble in the fifth and sixth.  He also managed to throw (LeBron James voice) not one, not two, not three, but four pitches to the backstop.  He did strike out eight, and again he did pitch well for four innings, so I it's progress.  Maybe some more time with Wes Johnson will lead to some more improvement next time.  We'll see.

It's a little frustrating to have won five in a row and only gained one game in the standings.  But on the other hand, think of how the Indians must feel.  They've won four of five and lost a game in the standings.  The good thing about being in first place is that we don't have to do better than Cleveland from here on out.  All we have to do is keep pace with them, and we win.

Record:  The Twins are 82-51, in first place in the American League Central, 3.5 games ahead of Cleveland.

Projected record:  We're still on track for 111-51!

 

2019 Recap: Game One Hundred Thirty-two

MINNESOTA 8, CHICAGO 2 IN CHICAGO

Date:  Wednesday, August 28.

Batting stars:  Mitch Garver was 3-for-4 with a two-run homer (his twenty-fourth), a hit-by-pitch, and two runs.  Jonathan Schoop was 2-for-4 with two home runs (his twentieth and twenty-first) and four RBIs.  Jorge Polanco was 2-for-5 with a double.

Pitching stars:  Jake Odorizzi struck out eight in six innings, giving up two runs on five hits and two walks.  Trevor May struck out three in a scoreless inning, giving up one hit.  Cody Stashak pitched two shutout innings, giving up three hits and striking out one.

Opposition stars:  Jose Abreu was 2-for-4 with a double.  Tim Anderson was 2-for-4 with a double.  Jimmy Cordero pitched two shutout innings, giving up one hit.

The game:  Doubles by Leury Garcia and Abreu put the White Sox on the board in the first inning with a 1-0 lead.  The Twins came right back in the second.  Eddie Rosario led off with a bloop single, Ehire Adrianza hit a two-out single, and Schoop came through with a three-run homer, putting the Twins up 3-1.   They added two in the third on just one hit.  Garver was hit by a pitch, Jorge Polanco doubled, and Nelson Cruz was intentionally walked to fill the bases.  A force out brought home one run and an error brought home another, making the score 5-1.  The Twins again loaded the bases in the fourth, getting two-out singles from Garver and Polanco and another intentional walk to Cruz, but Rosario grounded out to end the threat.

Chicago got a run back in the bottom of the fourth.  With one out, Yoan Moncada and Anderson singled and Eloy Jimenez walked, giving the White Sox loaded bases.  They were not more successful than the Twins, getting a force out to bring home one run, but no more.  Chicago put two on with two out in the fifth, but could do nothing with that, either.

The Twins put the game out of reach in the eighth.  With one out, Schoop homered, Jake Cave doubled, and Garver homered, making the score 8-2.

WP:  Odorizzi (14-6).  LP:  Ross Detwiler (2-4).  S:  None.

Notes:  Cave was in center in the absence of Byron Buxton.  Adrianza was in right in the absence of both Max Kepler and Marwin Gonzalez.  An outfield of Rosario-Cave-Adrianza is obviously less than ideal, but the Twins don't have a lot of options.  LaMonte Wade has just started a rehab assignment in Pensacola.  Zander Weil is probably the next-best outfielder in Rochester, but I know nothing about his defense.  The best option may be to hope Kepler and Gonzalez can bounce back quickly.

I see that Miguel Sano was hit by a pitch and was eventually replaced by Luis Arraez.  I don't know whether that's something to be concerned about.  Arraez was 1-for-2 and is now batting .336.

The first three batters hit Odorizzi pretty hard, but he certainly settled down after that.  He allowed only three more hits and one more run over the next six innings.  That's the Odorizzi the Twins need.  The bullpen came through as well.  Trevor May has quietly been pitching quite well over the last month.  In his last eleven games (12.1 innings), he has given up just one earned run on five hits and three walks and has struck out fifteen.  Other than one game against Atlanta, Stashak has also done pretty well.

In his last five games, Schoop has gone 6-for-17.  That's good, but what's really impressive is that five of the six hits have gone over the fence.  That's a slugging average of 1.235, which I'm pretty sure would be a record if you did it for a season.  He won't do it for the season, of course, but it's a pretty good run, even in a small sample size.

Today the Twins go for the sweep.  Whether they get will depend to a large extent on whether Jose Berrios can pitch like Jose Berrios.  I said a couple of weeks ago that he was not one of the Twins' problems, and since then he's gone out and proven me wrong.  In his four August starts, he is 0-2, 8.44, 1.97 WHIP.  The Twins say it's an issue with his mechanics.  Hopefully a trip to Wes Johnson's repair shop has solved his mechanical problems and he can get back to pitching the way the Twins need him to.

Record:  The Twins are 81-51, in first place, 3.5 games ahead of Cleveland.

Projected record:  We're still on track for 111-51!

2019 Recap: Game One Hundred Twenty-six

MINNESOTA 14, CHICAGO 4 IN MINNESOTA

Date:  Tuesday, August 20.

Batting stars:  Nelson Cruz was 4-for-5 with a home run (his thirty-third), three doubles, three runs, and three RBIs.  Max Kepler was 2-for-5 with a home run (his thirty-fourth), three runs, and three RBIs.  Eddie Rosario was 2-for-5 with two RBIs.  Jorge Polanco was 1-for-4 with a two-run homer (his nineteenth) and two runs.

Pitching stars:  Michael Pineda pitched seven innings, giving up four runs on six hits and no walks and striking out four.  Trevor May pitched a perfect inning and struck out one.

Opposition stars:  Tim Anderson was 2-for-4 with a home run (his thirteenth), a double, two runs, and two RBIs.  Jose Abreu was 1-for-3 with a two-run homer, his twenty-eighth.

The game:  It didn't look good early.  The Twins did nothing for the first two innings, as their first six batters were retired on just twenty-one pitches.  In the third, Yolmer Sanchez singled and scored on a two-out double by Anderson.  Abreu followed with a two-run homer and the White Sox quickly took a 3-0 lead.

Mitch Garver led off the bottom of the third with a double, but with two out he had only gotten as far as third base.  Kepler solved that problem, hitting a two-run homer to get the Twins back into the game at 3-2.  In the fourth, Cruz led off with a home run, tying the score 3-3.

The Twins took control in the fifth.  The first two batters went out, but Jake Cave singled and Kepler reached on an error.  Jorge Polanco was hit by a pitch, putting the Twins in the dreaded bases loaded situation.  But Cruz said, "Fear not" and belted a two-run double.  Rosario followed with a two-run single and the Twins led 7-3.

Anderson homered leading off the sixth, cutting the margin to 7-4, but that was as close as Chicago would come.  The Twins put it away in the eighth.  Cruz led off with a double and scored on Miguel Sano's double.  Luis Arraez singled, putting men on first and third, and later stole second, moving men to second and third with two out.  Marwin Gonzalez was intentionally walked, and again the Twins came through with the bases loaded.  This time it was pinch-hitter C. J. Cron delivering a three-run double.  He would score on Kepler's double and Polanco then hit a two-run homer.  It was 14-4, and that's where it would stay.

WP:  Pineda (9-5).  LP:  Reynaldo Lopez (7-11).  S:  None.

Kepler returned to the lineup in center field, with Jake Cave in right in the continued absence of Byron Buxton.  Gonzalez was at first base in place of Cron.  Cron remained in the game after his pinch-hit and played first, with Gonzalez moving to right field.

Arraez was 1-for-4 and is batting .346.  Cruz raised his average to .303, the first time he's been over .300 since May 6.

The Twins did not throw any wild pitches, and they were not charged with any errors, although there were at least two that could have been scored.  Still, I guess it's progress.  I know there's a lot more to defense than not making errors, but most of the errors have been on routine plays, and coupled with wild pitches and baserunning mistakes, it just leads to an overall sloppiness of play that I find annoying.  They've been able to hit enough to overcome it most of the time, and they did so again last night, but it still bothers me.

There was some discussion in the game log about Rocco making an unnecessary pitching change in the eighth, bringing in Sergio Romo with two out and none on with the Twins holding a three-run lead.  I would tend to agree that the change was unnecessary, but on the plus side:  a) Romo got the job done, b) he only threw three pitches, so he should be fine to pitch today, and c) there's an off day tomorrow, so he'll have at least one day where he won't pitch.  So, even if it was unnecessary, it looks like there's no harm done.

Cruz has to be having one of the best seasons a thirty-nine-year-old ever had.  I'm sure Barry Bonds has him beat, and there are probably a few others, but there can't be very many.  He is batting .303/.390/.667, for an OPS of 1.057.  He has thirty-three home runs.  And he's not wearing down as the season goes on--granted that he missed some time, but August is so far his best month of the season.  It's pretty incredible.

Record:  The Twins are 77-49, in first place in the American League Central, three games ahead of Cleveland.

Projected record:  We're still on track for 113-49!

2019 Recap: One Hundred Twenty-five

CHICAGO 6, MINNESOTA 4 IN MINNESOTA

Date:  Monday, August 19.

Batting stars:  Luis Arraez was 3-for-5 with a double.  Eddie Rosario was 3-for-5.  Jake Cave was 2-for-4.  Jorge Polanco was 2-for-5 with a home run (his eighteenth), a double, three runs, and two RBIs.  Nelson Cruz was 2-for-5.  Miguel Sano was 2-for-5.

Pitching stars:  None.

Opposition stars:  Ryan Goins was 3-for-4 with two runs.  Jose Abreu was 1-for-4 with a three-run homer, his twenty-seventh.  Ivan Nova pitched 5.1 innings, giving up two runs on ten hits and one walk and striking out two.

The game:  The Twins once again scored early.  Arraez and Polanco started the first inning with back-to-back doubles and Cruz followed with a single, putting the Twins up 2-0.  They missed a chance to add to the lead in the second, putting two on with two out but failing to score.  It cost them, because in the third singles by Matt Skole, Yolmer Sanchez, and Goins and a three-run homer by Abreu put the White Sox ahead 4-2.

The Twins put two on with two out in the fourth and did not score.  They had men on second and third with one out in the sixth, but the contact play cost the Twins again, as Sano was thrown out at the plate on a grounder to third.

In the seventh, Tim Anderson doubled, went to third on a ground out, and scored on a squeeze bunt to make the score 5-2.  Polanco hit a home run in the  bottom of the seventh to cut the margin to 5-3 and give the Twins some hope.  The hope was quickly dashed, however, as Chicago got the run back in the eighth.  Goins singled, Jon Jay walked, and Eloy Jimenez singled to make the score 6-3.

The Twins did threaten in the ninth.  Singles by ArraezCruz, and Rosario cut the lead to 6-4 and brought the winning run to the plate with two out.  But Sano struck out, and the game was over.

WP:  Nova (9-9).  LP:  Kyle Gibson (11-6).  S:  Alex Colome (24).

Notes:  Max Kepler was held out of the game, presumably due to lingering effects of his heat-related illness Sunday.  That means the Twins went with an outfield of Rosario-Cave-Marwin Gonzalez.  That's not a good defensive outfield.  It's hard to tell whether it made any difference--no defense can stop a three-run homer--but it certainly didn't help.

Cruz returned to the lineup as the DH.

Arraez is now batting .348.

Gibson pitched 6.2 innings, giving up five runs on six hits and one walk and striking out four.

This was not the way the start of the "soft spot in the schedule" was supposed to go.  Still, it's not realistic to expect the Twins to win every game, even against bad teams, and if the Twins win the next two to take the series, that would be an acceptable outcome.  It also seems like, as much as anything, the Twins simply had some bad luck.  They out-hit the White Sox 15-8.  They had twelve singles, two doubles, and a home run.  They also drew a walk.  And they were 3-for-9 with men in scoring position, so it's not like they weren't producing in the clutch.  Yet, they managed to score only four runs.  That's not very easy to do.  It's frustrating, but it's baseball, and it happens.  I'll go out on a limb, though, and predict that if the Twins get fifteen hits again tonight they will score more than four runs.

Record:  The Twins are 76-49, in first place in the American League Central, two games ahead of Cleveland.

Projected record:  We'll just have to settle for 113-49!

2019 Recap: Game One Hundred Twenty-four

MINNESOTA 6, TEXAS 3 IN TEXAS

Date:  Sunday, August 18.

Batting stars:  Jorge Polanco was 2-for-4 with a triple, a walk, and three RBIs.  Ehire Adrianza was 2-for-5 with a double.  MIguel Sano was 1-for-3 with a double, two walks, and two runs.

Pitching stars:  Martin Perez pitched five innings, giving up two runs on five hits and four walks and striking out two.  Zack Littell pitched a perfect inning and struck out one.  Sergio Romo pitched a scoreless inning and struck out one.  Taylor Rogers struck out two in a scoreless inning, giving up two hits.

Opposition stars:  Hunter Pence was 3-for-4 with a walk.  Shin-Soo Choo was 2-for-5 with a home run (his twentieth) and a stolen base (his ninth).  Willie Calhoun was 2-for-5.  Taylor Guerrieri struck out four in two perfect innings.

The game:  The Twins again took an early lead, as Max Kepler walked, Polanco singled, and Marwin Gonzalez delivered a two-out two-run double.  The Twins loaded the bases with two out in the second, but that worked out the way it usually does for the Twins.  The Rangers put two on with two out in the bottom of the second and the Twins did the same in the top of the third, but neither team did anything with that.

The Twins stretched their lead to 3-0 in the fourth when Sano doubled, went to third on a wild pitch, and scored on a sacrifice fly.  Texas got back into the game in the bottom of the fourth.  Pence led off with a single, Delino DeShields hit a two-out single, a wild pitch advanced the runners, and Jeff Mathis hit a two-run single.  It was 3-2, and it stayed 3-2 until the seventh, when Choo led off the inning with a home run to tie it 3-3.

In the eighth, Adrianza led off with a single and Jason Castro doubled.  The first out came on a strikeout, and Adrianza was thrown out at home on a grounder to short, as the Twins once again put on the contact play.  A walk to Sano loaded the bases, and this time it did not work out the way it usually does for the Twins.  Instead, Polanco hit a bases-clearing triple to right-center, giving the Twins a 6-3 lead.  The Rangers threatened in the ninth, bringing the tying run to the plate on a pair of two-out singles, but Rogers struck out Rougned Odor to end the game.

WP:  Sam Dyson (5-1).  LP:  Emmanuel Clase (0-2).  S:  Rogers (19).

Notes:  Kepler started the game in center and Jake Cave was in right in the continued absence of Byron Buxton.  Marwin Gonzalez started at third base, with Sano at designated hitter in the continued absence of Nelson Cruz.  Adrianza was at first base, with C. J. Cron on the bench.  In the seventh inning, the heat apparently got to Kepler, so Cave moved to center, Gonzalez went to right, Adrianza moved to third, and Cron came into the game at first base.

Luis Arraez was 0-for-4 with a walk and is now batting .342.  Rogers has an ERA of 2.59.

There was some discussion of the strike zone in the game log.  I wasn't able to see enough of the game to comment on that.  I did, however, see the last strike of the game, and I don't think Texas has any complaint coming on it.  Yes, it may have been an inch off the plate.  I don't think it's reasonable to complain if the umpire misses a ninety-five mph fastball by an inch.  If you want to say that's why we need robo-umps, that's fine.  But as long as we have human umps, I think we have to cut them a little bit of slack.  When they're missing pitches by three or four inches, it bothers me.  But not when they miss one by an inch or less.

As the schedule turns in the Twins favor, it's now possible to use the cliche that the Twins' fate is in their hands.  They lead Cleveland by 2.5 games with thirty-eight to play.  They have six games left with the Indians, plus three with Boston and three with Washington.  The other twenty-six games are against the White Sox, Detroit, and Kansas City.  Scoreboard watching is fun, and I'll still be rooting for Cleveland to lose.  But if the Twins simply win the games they should win, they'll win the division.  And if they don't, they won't deserve to win the division.

Record:  The Twins are 76-48, first in the American League Central, 2.5 games ahead of Cleveland.

Projected record:  We're still on track for 114-48!

2019 Recap: Game Eighty-seven

MINNESOTA 15, TEXAS 6 IN MINNESOTA

Date:  Friday, July 5.

Batting stars:  Marwin Gonzalez was 3-for-4 with a double, a hit-by-pitch, two runs and two RBIs.  Jonathan Schoop was 3-for-5 with a home run (his fourteenth), two doubles, two runs, and four RBIs.  Mitch Garver was 2-for-4 with a home run (his thirteenth), a double, a walk, and three runs.  Max Kepler was 2-for-4 with two RBIs.  Jorge Polanco was 2-for-5 with a two-run homer, his thirteenth.  Luis Arraez was 2-for-5 with a home run, his second.  C. J. Cron was 2-for-5 with two doubles, two runs, and two RBIs.  Byron Buxton was 2-for-5 with two doubles and two runs.

Pitching stars:  Martin Perez pitched six innings, giving up four runs on seven hits and two walks and striking out three.  Kohl Stewart retired all four men he faced.

Opposition stars:  Logan Forsythe was 2-for-4 with a home run (his fourth) and two runs.  Rougned Odor was 2-for-4 with a double.  Delino DeShields was 2-for-4 with a double.  Shin-Soo Choo was 1-for-5 with a two-run homer, his thirteenth.

The game:  The Twins started the scoring in the second and did so in a big way.  Garver led off with a double and scored on Gonzalez' single.  A double play made it look like the scoring might end right there, but Arraez followed with a home run, Schoop and Buxton hit back-to-back doubles, Kepler singled, and Polanco hit a two-run homer.  It was 6-0 and the Twins lead would never be threatened.

The Twins kept the scoring going.  Buxton doubled with one out in the fourth and scored on a Kepler single.  In the fifth Gonzalez was hit by a pitch and scored on Schoop's two-out two-run homer.  It was 9-0 through six.

The Rangers tried to get back into the game in the seventh.  Martin Perez, who had cruised through six innings, walked Nomar Mazara to open the seventh.  Singles by Forsythe and Asdrubal Cabrera plated one run and Odor's RBI double made it 9-2.  Ryne Harper came in and allowed a run-scoring ground out, then with two down gave up a homer to Choo, making the score 9-5.

No problem.  Garver led off the bottom of the seventh with a home run.  Gonzalez singled, Cron doubled, and Schoop delivered a two-out two-run double to make it 12-5.  Forsythe homered in the eighth to cut the margin to 12-6, but the Twins added a few more in the bottom of the eighth. Miguel Sano singled, Garver walked, Gonzalez doubled home one and Cron doubled home two.  Texas went down in order in the ninth.

WP:  Perez (8-3).  LP:  Adrian Sampson (6-6).  S:  None.

Notes:  Arraez was at third base in this game, with Gonzalez in left and Sano on the bench.  Sano entered the game as a pinch-hitter in the fourth, as Nelson Cruz left the game.  According to news reports, Cruz had discomfort in his foot because his shoe was too tight.  I don't know why he couldn't simply put on a bigger shoe, but it obviously didn't matter for the outcome of the game.

Arraez actually lowered his average by going 2-for-5--he's now batting .413.  Polanco went up to .314.  Tyler Duffey gave up a run in two-thirds of an inning and has an ERA of 2.60.

As noted above, Perez pitched very well for six innings.  In retrospect you can say he was left in the game too long, but his pitch count wasn't high and there were no obvious signs that he was tiring.  Sometimes a guy just loses it quickly.

Stewart pitched the last 1.1 innings.  It had been widely assumed that he was going to be Sunday's starter, but that seems very unlikely now.  Maybe that never was the plan, or maybe Rocco thought it was better to save the rest of the bullpen now and figure something else out for Sunday.  The pitcher who started in Rochester Tuesday, and so would be going on regular rest Sunday, was Devin Smeltzer.  He did pretty well in his two earlier major league starts, so it would not be surprising to see him back for the Sunday start.

This was the kind of game we saw a lot the first couple of months of the season and haven't seen much lately.  Will this be the start of a hot streak?  The Twins had a game like this Saturday and we hoped it might be the start of a hot streak, but instead it was just a one-off.  So I guess we'll see.

The win guarantees that the Twins will go into the all-star break not having more than a two-game losing streak.  That's pretty remarkable.

Record:  The Twins are 55-32, first in the American League Central, 6.5 games ahead of Cleveland.

Projected record:  We're still on track for 130-32!

2019 Recap: Game Eighty-five

MINNESOTA 4, OAKLAND 3 IN OAKLAND (12 INNINGS)

Date:  Wednesday, July 3.

Batting stars:  Luis Arraez was 3-for-5.  Mitch Garver was 2-for-6.  Jorge Polanco was 1-for-5 with a home run, his twelfth.

Pitching stars:  Kyle Gibson pitched six innings, giving up three runs (two earned) on five hits and four walks and striking out five.  Zack Littell pitched a scoreless inning, giving up a hit and a walk and striking out one.  Ryne Harper struck out two in a scoreless inning, giving up one hit.  Tyler Duffey pitched a perfect inning.  Blake Parker struck out three in two shutout innings, giving up a hit and two walks.  Taylor Rogers struck out two in a scoreless inning, giving up one hit.

Opposition stars:  Mike Fiers pitched six innings, giving up two runs (one earned) on five hits and no walks and striking out four.  Ramon Laureano was 2-for-4 with a three-run homer (his fourteenth) and a walk.  Robbie Grossman was 2-for-4 with a walk.  Liam Hendriks struck out two in two shutout innings, giving up one hit.

The game:  Khris Davis reached on an error to start the bottom of the second.  Mark Canha walked and Laureano hit a three-run homer, and that quickly the Athletics led 3-0.  Oakland had chances to add to their lead, but could not take advantage of them.  Marcus Semien opened the third with a double but did not score.  Laureano and Grossman led off the fourth with singles but a force out and a double play ended the inning.  Still, the Athletics led 3-0 through five.

The Twins then pecked away, as Dazzle likes to say.  Singles by Jonathan SchoopMax Kepler, and Garver produced a run in the sixth.  Singles by Arraez and Ehire Adrianza were followed by an error to make the score 3-2.  Polanco hit a two-out homer in the eighth to tie it 3-3.

Each team missed chances in the extra frames.  Oakland started the tenth with two walks but did not score.  The Twins had men on first and third with one out in the eleventh and did not score.  The Twins broke through in the twelfth, though.  Byron Buxton and Kepler drew one-out walks and Garver followed with an RBI single to give the Twins their first lead at 4-3.  A double play took them out of the inning.  Would the lead hold up?

Obviously it did, but the Athletics made it interesting.  Matt Chapman reached on an error to start the inning.  With one out, Jurickson Profar singled, sending Chapman to third, but Profar was thrown out trying to make second, so there were two down with the tying run ninety feet away.  He stayed there, as Canha struck out to end the game.

WP:  Parker (1-2).  LP:  Blake Treinen (2-3).  S:  Rogers (11).

Notes:  Arraez is now batting .431 in sixty-five at-bats.  I wonder what the record is for highest batting average in your first sixty-five at-bats.  Polanco is down to .318.  Harper has an ERA of 2.88.  Duffey is at 2.33.  Rogers' ERA is 1.93.

Arraez was in left field, and while I still don't like playing infielders in the outfield I gather he's done okay there.  Of course, you'll put up with less defense from a guy who bats .431.  Adrianza was at shortstop, with Polanco the DH and Nelson Cruz out of the lineup.

In the second inning, I don't think many people would've predicted that Gibson would get through six without giving up any more runs.  He didn't exactly dominate, but he got by.  The Much Maligned Bullpen came through with six shutout innings, although they didn't exactly dominate, either.  The Oaklands went 1-for-15 with men in scoring position.

I am pleased to see Liam Hendriks pitching well.  I still feel like the Twins didn't give him much of a chance, although I have to admit that he didn't do much with the chances they did give him.  When the Twins waived him after the 2013 season, I doubt that anyone in the front office thought he'd still be pitching in 2019, but here he is.  Good for him.

The Twins made two more errors last night.  I don't have time to go back and count, but they've made an awful lot of errors in recent weeks.  I don't know what happened to that excellent defensive team we had the first couple of months of the season, but I sure wish they'd come back.  Injuries have played a part, of course, but that's not a complete excuse.

The Twins still managed to avoid losing three games in a row.  Of course, it's been about three weeks since they won three in a row.  It would sure be nice to see them put together a little winning streak here before the all-star break.

Record:  The Twins are 54-31, first in the American League Central, seven games ahead of Cleveland.

Projected record:  We're still on track for 131-31!