Tag Archives: Jorge Polanco

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!

2019 Recap: Game Seventy-seven

KANSAS CITY 6, MINNESOTA 1 IN KANSAS CITY

Date:  Sunday, June 23.

Batting stars:  Luis Arraez was 4-for-4 with a double.  Max Kepler was 2-for-5 with a double.  Jorge Polanco was 2-for-5.  Eddie Rosario was 1-for-4 with a home run, his twentieth.

Pitching stars:  Zack Littell pitched a scoreless inning, giving up one hit.  Matt Magill pitched a perfect inning.

Opposition stars:  Homer Bailey pitched 5.1 innings, giving up one run on five hits and a walk and striking out five.  Billy Hamilton was 2-for-3 with two stolen bases, his fifteenth and sixteenth.  Hunter Dozier was 2-for-4 with a three-run homer (his twelfth) and a double.  Alex Gordon was 2-for-4 with two doubles and two RBIs.  Whit Merrifield was 2-for-4.  Kevin McCarthy pitched 2.1 scoreless innings, giving up two hits and striking out two.

The game:  It was basically decided in the third inning.  With one out, singles by Hamilton and Merrifield put men on first and third.  Nicky Lopez' bunt single scored the first run, Gordon doubled home a second, and Dozier hit a three-run homer.  That quickly, the Royals were ahead 5-0 and they would stay ahead the rest of the game.

Rosario got the Twins on the board leading off the fourth.  Arraez had a one-out double and Miguel Sano walked, but Jason Castro was caught looking and Jake Cave grounded out, so the score stayed 5-1.  Facing some mediocre Kansas City pitchers, the Twins only got one other threat going.  That came in the seventh, when Cave was hit by a pitch, Polanco had a two-out infield single, and Nelson Cruz was hit by a pitch to load the bases.  Rosario hit into a force out, however, and the Twins would not threaten again.  Gordon's RBI double in the bottom of the seventh completed the scoring.

WP:  Bailey (7-6).  LP:  Michael Pineda (4-4).  S:  McCarthy (1).

Notes:  Arraez was at second base in place of Jonathan Schoop.  Kepler remained in center, with Cave in right and Byron Buxton still on the IL.

Arraez is batting .436.  Polanco is batting .326.  Mike Morin gave up a run in one inning and now has an ERA of 2.08.

Pineda had been pitching fairly well lately, by his standards.  He pitched well in this game if you take out the third inning, which unfortunately you can't.

The Twins had nine hits, a walk, and two hit batsmen, but could score just one run.  The hits were concentrated in a very few players.  As you can see above, Arraez had four of them.  The top two men in the Twins order, Kepler and Polanco, went 4-for-10.  The three through five batters were 1-for-12, with Rosario's solo homer being the lone hit.  The bottom three batters were 0-for-10.  That led to eleven men being left on base.

The Twins are 5-5 over their last ten games.  A year ago, we'd have looked at that as a hopeful sign, thinking that maybe the Twins were starting to build on something.  This year, we're all disappointed and wondering what the Twins will do to right the ship.  One thing I've noticed abut Rocco, though, is that he does not get into panic mode easily.  He has faith in his players and has faith in his own decision-making ability.  If he believes he has a good reason for doing something, he's not going to change his mind just because it doesn't work right away.  That's a good thing, I think, as long as you don't carry it too far.  It's possible for that attitude to become stubbornness, where you insist on doing things your way despite evidence that your way doesn't work.  I've not noticed that in Rocco, but he's only been a manager for half a season, so I guess time will tell.

The Twins signed Cody Allen to a minor league contract the other day.  He was a really good relief pitcher until a couple of years ago, when he suddenly wasn't any more.  It's a low-risk move that really can only hurt you if you allow it to.  What I mean is that it can hurt you if you allow him to take playing time from a more deserving player, or if you convince yourself that you don't need to do anything else, or if you bring him to the majors even though he hasn't proven he belongs there, just because of who he is.  I have confidence in the current front office that they won't let those things happen.  And who knows?  Maybe the Twins can help him get back to being a useful reliever again.  The Twins could certainly use one of those.

Record:  The Twins are 50-27, first in the American League Central, eight games ahead of Cleveland.

Projected record:  We'll just have to settle for 135-27!

2019 Recap: Game Seventy-five

MINNESOTA 8, KANSAS CITY 7 IN KANSAS CITY

Date:  Friday, June 21.

Batting stars:  Eddie Rosario was 3-for-5 with a stolen base (his third) and two RBIs.  Jonathan Schoop was 2-for-4.  Jorge Polanco was 2-for-5 with a double and two runs.  Max Kepler was 2-for-5.  C. J. Cron was 1-for-5 with a home run, his sixteenth.  Miguel Sano was 1-for-5 with a home run, his eighth.

Pitching stars:  Tyler Duffey pitched a perfect inning.  Taylor Rogers pitched two shutout innings.

Opposition stars:  Cheslor Cuthbert was 3-for-4 with a home run (his fourth, a double, two runs, and four RBIs.  Jakob Junis struck out eight in six innings, giving up three runs (two earned) on six hits and two walks.  Jorge Soler was 1-for-3 with a home run (his twenty-first) a walk, and two runs.

The game:  In the bottom of the first, a pair of walks put men on first and second with two out.  Cuthbert then doubled home one run, an error allowed a second run to score, and Martin Maldonado's RBI single made it 3-0 Royals.

The Twins came back.  Cron homered leading off the second to make it 3-1.  In the fifth, Schoop led off with a single.  He was still on first with two out, but then Nelson Cruz walked and Rosario delivered an RBI single to make it 3-2 and put men on first and third.  Rosario then stole second and Cruz was able to score on a throwing error, tying the score 3-3.

It didn't stay tied long.  In the bottom of the fifth Whit Merrifield walked and Nicky Lopez was hit by a pitch.  A pair of strikeouts gave hope that Martin Perez might get out of the inning, but Cheslor Cuthbert, whose name sounds like he ought to be sitting around the smoking room of the Drones Club having a drink with Bertie Wooster rather than playing major league baseball, hit a three-run homer to put Kansas City back up 6-3.

The Twins again battled back.  In the seventh, singles by Max Kepler and Jorge Polanco were followed by a wild pitch, putting men on second and third with none out.  Cruz then delivered a two-run single to cut the margin to 6-5.  In the eighth, Sano led off with a home run to tie the score.  Pinch-hitter Mitch Garver walked and was replaced on the basepaths by pinch-runner Willians Astudillo.  Singles by Schoop and Kepler gave the Twins the lead 7-6.  Men were on second and third with none out.  Twice the Twins put the contact play on only to have their batter hit back to the pitcher, putting men on first and third with two out.  Rosario came through, however, getting a run-scoring single to give the Twins an insurance run at 8-6.

They needed it, as Soler led off the bottom of the eighth with a home run.  Cuthbert then singled, but Rogers came into the game at that point.  There was a scare in the bottom of the ninth, when an error by right-fielder Astudillo put the tying run on base with one out, but a line drive double play ended the game.

WP:  Ryne Harper (3-0).  LP:  Jake Diekman (0-5).  S:  Rogers (9).

Notes:  Polanco is batting .326.  Duffey has an ERA of 1.99.  Harper gave up a run in one inning and has an ERA of 2.35.  Rogers' ERA is 1.91.

Kepler was again in center, with Jake Cave in right.  Garver pinch-hit for Cave in the eighth inning, with Astudillo coming in to play right in the bottom of the eighth.

Martin Perez continues to struggle.  He hasn 't posted a game score above fifty since May 17.  In that span, he has posted an ERA of 5.66.  Whatever magic he had since mid-April to mid-May is gone.  We may be approaching the time to give Devin Smeltzer or someone else a shot at the fifth starter position.

For all the criticism of Sano, it's worth noting that Cave is 0-for-15 with eight strikeouts since coming back.  I understand that the expectations for the two are far different, but their outs count exactly the same.  Sano at least has the ability to hit the long ball, as he did last night to tie the score.

I love Harper, but he's been struggling in June.  Mainly, he's been hurt by the home run ball.  In eight innings he's given up four runs and three of them have been home runs.  At least they've all been solo homers, which as we all know don't hurt you.

In the Twins' recent down stretch, which to me started with last weekend's Kansas City series, they are 4-4.  It seems to me that a down stretch during which you still play .500 ball is a good sign.  Yes, it's helped that they've played the Royals in several of those games.  Still, I see no reason to think they won't start to play better again, and they're weathering the stretch of worse play pretty well so far.

Record:  The Twins are 49-26, first in the American League Central, nine games ahead of Cleveland.

Projected record:  We're still on track for 136-26!

2019 Recap: Game Seventy-four

KANSAS CITY 4, MINNESOTA 1 IN KANSAS CITY

Date:  Thursday, June 20.

Batting stars:  C. J. Cron was 2-for-3 with a walk.  Jorge Polanco was 1-for-4 with a home run, his eleventh.

Pitching star:  Kohl Stewart pitched four shutout innings, giving up two hits and no walks and striking out one.

Opposition stars:  Glenn Sparkman pitched seven innings, giving up one run on five hits and one walk and striking out three.  Jorge Soler was 2-for-3 with a walk.  Lucas Duda was 2-for-4.  Nicky Lopez was 2-for-4.

The game:  Polanco homered in the first inning and it looked like it might be a big night for the Twins.  Instead, it was the only run they scored.  The Royals came right back in the bottom of the first, Their first three batters reached base:  Whit Merrifield doubled, Lopez singled, and Alex Gordon doubled to give Kansas City a 2-1 lead.  Duda had an RBI single later in the inning to make it 3-1 Royals.  They added a run in the fourth on a Martin Maldonado RBI double.

Meanwhile, the Twins weren't really doing much of anything at bat.  They got a pair of two-out singles in the fourth, putting men on first and third, but Jonathan Schoop fanned to end the inning.  They got a couple of harmless singles later in the game, but their last ten batters were retired.  Kansas City only got two hits after the fourth inning as well, but they already had all the runs they needed.

WP:  Sparkman (2-3).  LP:  Jake Odorizzi (10-3).  S:  Ian Kennedy (9).

Notes:  Jake Cave was in right field, with Max Kepler remaining in center.  Luis Arraez was at shortstop, with Polanco at DH and Nelson Cruz on the bench.  Willians Astudillo was at third base, with Miguel Sano on the bench.  Mitch Garver started at catcher but left the game in the eighth, with Astudillo moving to catcher and Sano entering the game at third.

Arraez was 1-for-4 and is batting .375.  Polanco is batting .325.  Odorizzi gave up four runs in four innings and has an ERA of 2.58.

Odorizzi had his second poor start in a row.  He hasn't been dreadful, but he certainly hasn't been good.  There's some regression to the mean, but that's a phrase that describes things without actually explaining them.  Either he was just lucky before and his luck has run out, he's doing something differently from what he was doing before, or the Royals figured out what he was doing and adjusted to it.  The Twins need him to be, not necessarily a Cy Young winner like he was through his first thirteen starts, but a good, reliable pitcher.

The batters have also been in a slump.  But just like "regression to the mean", "in a slump" describes without explaining.  Again, it's either a matter of luck, their doing something differently, or other teams have adjusted.  My opinion, as I said the other day, is that we have too many batters who are trying to hit home runs on every pitch.  Nothing wrong with home runs, but some pitches are not capable of being hit out of the park.  My unsolicited amateur advice is to get back to just trying to hit the ball hard and let the home runs take care of themselves.

The baseball season is long.  You're going to have times when you're not playing well, for a variety of reasons.  It's not as much fun when it happens, but it does.  It happens to every team.  You just have to keep the faith and ride it out.  The thing not to do is to go all StatFreak when we hit one of those times.  If we do that,  we're no better than Yankee fans.

The Twins again try to avoid losing three in a row, this time with Martin Perez on the mound.  That doesn't fill me with confidence, but hey, the guy is 7-3.  Maybe he's due.  Maybe tonight the Twins break out of their slump and score ten runs.  After all, it's baseball.  All kinds of things are possible.

Record:  The Twins are 48-26, first in the American League Central, nine games ahead of Cleveland.

Projected record:  We'll just have to settle for 136-26!

2019 Recap: Game Seventy

KANSAS CITY 8, MINNESOTA 6 IN MINNESOTA

Date:  Sunday, June 16.

Batting stars:  Max Kepler was 4-for-6 with two doubles and two RBIs.  Jonathan Schoop was 3-for-5.  Miguel Sano was 2-for-4 with a home run (his seventh) and a walk.  Nelson Cruz was 2-for-5 with a home run (his thirteenth), a double, and three RBIs.  Eddie Rosario was 2-for-5.  Jorge Polanco was 1-for-4 with two walks.

Pitching star:  Matt Magill pitched a scoreless inning, giving up a walk and striking out one.

Opposition stars:  Martin Maldonado was 3-for-4 with a double, scoring twice and driving in two.  Jorge Bonifacio was 2-for-5 with a double and two RBIs.

The game:  The Twins got a pair of runners on in the bottom of the first but did not score.  This would be a theme.  In the second, the Royals put together a walk and four singles to score three runs and take a 3-0 lead.

Martin Perez settled down after that, and the Twins got back in the game with two in the fourth.  Sano led off with a home run, Marwin Gonzalez was hit by a pitch, and singles by Schoop and Kepler cut the lead to 3-2.  Polanco was intentionally walked to load the bases with two out, but Nelson Cruz struck out to strand the runners.

In the seventh, two singles, a bunt, and an error plated to Kansas City runs to make it 5-2.  Cruz homered in the bottom of the seventh to make it 5-3.  Three singles loaded the bases with one out, but Schoop struck out and Mitch Garver flied out to strand the runners.  The Royals extended their lead in the eighth on an error, RBI doubles by Bonifacio and Maldonado, and a run-scoring single by Billy Hamilton.  It was 8-3 and it looked like the game was gone.

To the Twins' credit, they came back to make a game of it.  In the bottom of the eighth, a walk to Ehire Adrianza and singles by Kepler and Polanco again loaded the bases, this time with none out.  Cruz doubled home two to make it 8-5, but the Twins could do no more.  In the ninth, Schoop singled, Kepler had an RBI double, and Polanco walked to bring the winning run to the plate, but Cruz struck out to end the game.

WP:  Jorge Lopez (1-6).  LP:  Perez (7-3).  S:  Ian Kennedy (7).

NotesGonzalez was in right field, with Kepler in center and Byron Buxton still resting a bruised wrist.  Adrianza was at first base with C. J. Cron on the bench.

Polanco is batting .332.  Garver, who came in as a pinch-hitter in the seventh, was 0-for-2 and is batting .310.  Mike Morin allowed three runs in 1.1 innings, but the runs were all unearned, so his ERA is down to 1.17.

The Twins stranded fifteen men and went 4-for-18 with men in scoring position.  The good news is that they had fifteen hits, five walks, and a hit batsman, giving them twenty-one baserunners.  It was a frustrating game, no question, but it happens once in a while.  If they keep getting twenty-one baserunners a game, I think they'll be okay.

All the runs against Morin were unearned, but you can't argue that he pitched well.  After the error, which put a man on first with one out, there was an RBI double, a fly out, another RBI double, a run-scoring single, and a walk before the third out was recorded.  It seemed odd that Morin remained in the game that long.  I wonder if Rocco thought the game was gone at that point and didn't want to burn another reliever.  That's mere speculation on my part, but it's hard to think Morin would've pitched that long if the manager thought the game was on the line.

In regard to the game-ending checked swing, I really thought that was a call that could've gone either way, and it didn't go the Twins' way.  But Cruz had stood there and watched two good strikes, then started to swing at a pitch well out of the strike zone.  I don't think he or the Twins have much complaint coming on that.

On the one hand, it was a frustrating game to lose.  On the other hand, I didn't think the Twins played all that well in the whole series.  Maybe it was the hubbub over Joe Mauer weekend, maybe they're getting a little bit tired, maybe they just find it hard to get up for a series against Kansas City.  It just seemed to me that the team was a little bit off all weekend, and they were fortunate to win two out of three.  But maybe that's the mark of a good team, too--to be able to win even when you're a little bit off.

Record:  The Twins are 47-23, first in the American League Central, ten games ahead of Cleveland.

Projected record:  We'll just have to settle for 139-23!

2019 Recap: Game Sixty-seven

MINNESOTA 10, SEATTLE 5 IN MINNESOTA

Date:  Thursday, June 13.

Batting stars:  Nelson Cruz was 3-for-4 with a home run (his twelfth), a walk, two runs, and three RBIs.  Ehire Adrianza was 3-for-5.  Jonathan Schoop was 2-for-4 with a double.  Marwin Gonzalez was 2-for-5 with a double.  Jorge Polanco was 2-for-6 with two runs.  C. J. Cron was 1-for-5 with a two-run homer, his fifteenth.

Pitching stars:  Michael Pineda pitched 5.2 innings, giving up one run on two hits and two walks and striking out four.  Ryne Harper pitched a scoreless inning, giving up a hit and striking out one.

Opposition stars:  Yusei Kikuchi pitched five innings, giving up one run on six hits and two walks and striking out four.  Daniel Vogelbach was 2-for-4 with a walk.  Kyle Seager was 2-for-5 with a double.  Dylan Moore was 1-for-1 with a double, a walk, and two RBIs.

The game:  The  Twins loaded the bases with none out in the second and did not score.  At the time it was a big missed opportunity, although it turned out not to matter.  Cruz homered with one out in the third to give the Twins a 1-0 lead.  It stayed 1-0 through five.  In the sixth, Vogelbach had an RBI single to tie it 1-1.

It didn't stay tied long.  The Twins exploded for six runs in the bottom of the sixth to take control of the game.  Max Kepler walked, Adrianza singled, and a pickoff error gave the Twins the lead.  A wild pitch and a fielder's choice made it 3-1.  Byron Buxton walked and Polanco singled, again loading the bases.  With one out, Cruz delivered a two-run single.  With two out, Schoop walked and Kepler came through with a two-out single.  The Twins scored six runs without hitting a homer and led 7-1.

They would add three more in the seventh on a Polanco RBI single and Cron's two-run homer to go ahead 10-1.  The Mariners scored two in the eighth and two in the ninth off the back of the Twins bullpen to make the final score look better.

WP:  Harper (2-0).  LP:  Brandon Brennan (2-6).  S:  None.

Notes:  Gonzalez was in left field in place of Eddie Rosario.  Adrianza was at third base in place of Miguel Sano.  Cron batted second in the order, with Gonzalez batting fourth.

Polanco is batting .338.  Harper has an ERA of 1.95.  Mike Morin struck out the only man he faced and has an ERA of 1.29.

With all the runs, we should not forget the good game pitched by Pineda.  Oddly, he had gone six starts in a row giving up exactly three earned runs, which seems like it might be a record of some kind.  Yesterday, however, he gave up just one in 5.2 innings.  Ideally, he'd have been able to at least complete the sixth, but you don't expect "ideal" from the back end of the rotation.  If he could do this every time, you'd take it and be very happy.

The Twins scored six in the sixth without hitting a home run.  My guess is that this may be the biggest inning they've had all year without a homer.  The home runs are fun, and I'm all for them, but it's also good to be able to score runs in other ways.  The more ways you have to score, the more you're likely to score.

Fernando Romero, the latest "fresh arm for the bullpen", faced four batters yesterday and retired exactly none of them.  This was the entirely foreseeable result of bringing a man to the majors who has done nothing to show that he belongs there, simply because the letter "P" appears next to his name on the roster sheet.  I'm not a big fan of carrying thirteen pitchers, but I would complain less about it if the thirteenth pitcher could actually pitch.  If the thirteenth pitcher is of the Chase De Jong/Andrew Vasquez/Austin Adams variety--someone you can't even trust to fill an inning of a blowout--then he's worthless.  You might as well have the extra position player, someone who might actually be able to contribute something.

And to be honest, the twelfth pitcher, Matt Magill, hasn't gotten much accomplished lately, either.  He did well Tuesday night, but in his last five appearances he has pitched 4.2 innings and allowed twelve runs (eleven earned) on twelve hits and five walks.

I'm sure the front office is aware of the problem--it would be hard for them not to be.  And I'm sure they're working on it.  One of the nice things about having an eleven game lead in the division is that they don't have to feel like they have to make a move right now.  They can wait and try to get the player(s) they want on favorable terms.  Whether they'll actually be able to do that is another question, but the point is that there's no reason to panic and make a move just to make a move.  It's much better to wait and make a good move than to do something now just so they can say they did something.

Record:  The Twins are 45-22, first in the American League Central, eleven games ahead of Cleveland.

Projected record:  We're still on track for 140-22!

2019 Recap: Game Sixty-five

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!