I expect the Twins will probably win this one. Gibson gonna Gibson.
Someone should tell these guys that this is basically the epitome of the soft part of the schedule, though.
I expect the Twins will probably win this one. Gibson gonna Gibson.
Someone should tell these guys that this is basically the epitome of the soft part of the schedule, though.
The Twins come back home after a 5-1 road trip, most recently off their first four game sweep in Texas. While the road treated them well, the home stadium has been less inviting as of late; the Twins have dropped 5 out of their last 6 at Target Field.
Coming into town are the White Sox, who just lost 3 out of 4 in Anaheim. Crossing fingers for the Twins to extend the B-Sox's recent road woes. Hopefully Good Gibby will face off against Ivan Nova, who's been white hot lately (ba dum tss!).
Date: Wednesday, August 14.
Batting stars: Mitch Garver was 1-for-5 with a home run, his twenty-third. Eddie Rosario was 1-for-4 with a home run (his twenty-sixth) and a walk. Miguel Sano was 1-for-4 with a home run (his twenty-first) and a walk.
Pitching stars: Sam Dyson struck out two in a scoreless inning, giving up one hit. Trevor May struck out two in a scoreless inning, giving up a walk.
Opposition stars: Eric Thames was 3-for-4 with a double and two RBIs. Trent Grisham was 2-for-4 with a three-run homer (his second), a walk, and two runs. Keston Hiura was 2-for-4 with a walk.
The game: It looked good for quite a while. Garver led off the game with a home run and Rosario hit a two-out homer to give the Twins a 2-0 lead in the first inning. The Brewers got one back in the bottom of the first when Grisham singled, Yasmani Grandal walked, and Hiura delivered an RBI single.
Each team scored once in the third. Sano hit a one-out homer in the top of the inning. In the bottom, a one-out single by Hiura and two-out singles by Lorenzo Cain and Thames made the score 3-2.
With one out in the top of the fourth, Max Kepler walked, Jonathan Schoop doubled, and Kyle Gibson walked to load the bases. Garver struck out, but Jorge Polanco came through with a two-run single to put the Twins up 5-2. Milwaukee again got one back in the fifth when Mike Moustakas doubled and scored on a Thames single.
The score stayed 5-3 until the eighth. Ryan Braun led off by reaching on a Polanco error. Hernan Perez singled and Grisham followed with a three-run homer, giving the Brewers their first lead of the day at 6-5. The Twins tried to rally in the ninth. With two out, walks to Polanco, Sano, and Rosario loaded the bases. Unfortunately, Matt Albers then found the strike zone again and retired C. J. Cron on a deep fly to center to end the game.
WP: Junior Guerra (6-3). LP: Sergio Romo (2-1). S: Albers (4).
Notes: Kepler remained in center and Marwin Gonzalez in right with Byron Buxton out. Schoop was at second base rather than Luis Arraez, who was used as a pinch-hitter in the ninth. Arraez went 0-for-1 and is batting .348.
It's probably past time to admit that Gibson is never going to take that step forward and become a top pitcher. He is what he is--an average major league starting pitcher--and as he approaches his thirty-second birthday it's unlikely that he'll ever be more than that. That's not a criticism, exactly. There's value in being an average major league starting pitcher. Teams have missed the playoffs because they didn't have one. But I think a lot of the frustration with him comes from people thinking that he could be better than that and that he ought to be better than that. It's just not likely to happen. It's time to simply accept what he is.
We've discussed the number of winnable games the Twins have lost this season. The term "winnable game" is not easy to define. The only way to really know how many the Twins have lost would be to go back through all their games, and even then the definition would be somewhat subjective. And yes, one of the reasons that they've lost more winnable games this year is that they've played more winnable games--there haven't been that many times when they've been blown out. Still, if you want to be a top team, you have to win a pretty high percentage of your winnable games. That's the only way you get a good won-lost record, and that's the way we determine what teams are the top teams. Every time you lose one of those winnable games, it costs you.
The good news, though, is that the Twins are still a half game up on Cleveland. They don't have to win a specific number of games or achieve a certain winning percentage to win the division. They just need to win one more game than Cleveland does in the last forty-two games of the season. We'll see if they can.
Record: The Twins are 72-48, in first place in the American League Central, a half game ahead of Cleveland.
Projected record: We'll just have to settle for 114-48!
This is the Battle for the AL Central (lead)
Perhaps the biggest series of the season (so far)
Make or Break?
Do or Die?
Win or Go Home?
All or Nothing?
Sink or Swim?
Now or Never?
Put Up or Shut Up?
is it just, "one game at a time"?
we shall see!
Happy Joe Nathan Day!
Hopefully, the home team will honor its best ever reliever (seriously, his 2006 in particular was insane -- Rivera never matched Nathan's 39 FIP-) by giving up a few obligatory baserunners, then utterly destroying all remaining batters on their way to a scoreless game.
Attempting that feat will be Kyle Gibson, and you know what? Good Gibby could accomplish that. In his 10 wins, he's been holding the opposition to a .544 OPS, coupled with a 2.44 ERA.
In his losses.... it's a .982 and a 7.52. I don't know for sure, but that's got to be up there in terms of game outcome splits. I still think he's your third starter in a playoff rotation, but I'd have Odorizzi standing by from the first pitch on.
Gotta stick with Cruz for a boomstick tonight.
Date: Thursday, July 18.
Batting stars: Eddie Rosario was 1-for-1 with a three-run homer, his twenty-first. Mitch Garver was 1-for-4 with a home run, his sixteenth. C. J. Cron was 1-for-4 with a home run, his eighteenth. Luis Arraez was 1-for-2 with a double and two walks. Miguel Sano was 1-for-2 with two walks and two runs.
Pitching stars: Kyle Gibson struck out seven in seven innings, giving up three runs on six hits and no walks. Taylor Rogers pitched two shutout innings, giving up two hits and striking out one.
Opposition stars: Ramon Laureano was 3-for-4 with two runs. Jurickson Profar was 1-for-4 with a two-run homer, his fourteenth. Mike Fiers pitched 6.1 innings, giving up three runs on six hits and four walks and striking out four.
The game: The Athletics put men on first and third with two out in the second, but there was no score until the third, when Sano walked, went to second on a Jake Cave single, took third on a bunt, and scored on a wild pitch. Oakland immediately tied it in the fourth, as Laureano singled, went to second on a wild pitch, and scored on a Khris Davis double.
The Twins missed a chance in the fifth, putting men on first and second with none out and running themselves out of the inning. It looked like it would be costly, as the Athletics took the lead in the sixth. Laureano singled with one out and Profar hit a two-out two-run homer, putting Oakland up 3-1. But in the seventh, Arraez hit a one-out double, Sano walked, and Rosario, pinch-hitting for Cave, hit a three-run homer to give the Twins a 4-3 lead.
Oakland got a pair of one-out singles in the eighth, but a strikeout and a fly out ended the inning. The Twins then got some insurance, as Garver and Cron each homered to make it 6-3. The Athletics went down in order in the ninth.
WP: Gibson (9-4). LP: Yusmeiro Petit (2-2). S: Rogers (14).
Notes: Max Kepler was in center field and Cave in right, with Byron Buxton still out. Marwin Gonzalez was in left, replacing Rosario. When Rosario entered the game, he went to left, with Gonzalez in right. Arraez was at second base with Jonathan Schoop still out. Ehire Adrianza was at shortstop, replacing Jorge Polanco.
Arraez raised his average to .382. Rogers has an ERA of 1.61.
The Twins made two more errors, although this time none of them led to runs. Everyone keeps saying, "Well, Buxton's out", but Buxton isn't going to stop infielders from booting grounders or throwing the ball away. Anyone who says, "Defense doesn't go into a slump" hasn't been watching the Twins lately.
But, all's well that ends well. Gibson pitched a good game--not dominating, but seven innings, three runs, six hits, no walks is something you'd take from him every time. Rogers remains outstanding. Arraez had another good game. And Rosario, well, what more can you say?
And Miguel Sano has quietly been batting very well lately. He was 1-for-2 last night and he drew two walks, both of which led to runs. He's only batting .236 on the season, which isn't great, but his OBP is .324. Since June 27, when he went 0-for-7 in the eighteen inning game, he's batting .340/.436/.702. A productive Sano would be really helpful over the last two and a half months of the season.
Record: The Twins are 59-36, in first place in the American League Central, four games ahead of Cleveland.
Projected record: We're still on track for 126-36!
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 Schoop, Max 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!
Date: Tuesday, June 25.
Batting stars: Eddie Rosario was 4-for-5 with a double and two RBIs. Willians Astudillo was 3-for-4 with a double. Mitch Garver was 3-for-5 with a home run (his twelfth), two runs, and three RBIs. Jonathan Schoop was 1-for-3 with a home run (his thirteenth) and a walk.
Pitching stars: Kyle Gibson struck out seven in seven innings, giving up four runs on seven hits and a walk. Ryne Harper pitched a perfect inning and struck out one. Tyler Duffey pitched a perfect inning.
Opposition star: Willy Adames was 2-for-2 with a home run, his eighth.
The game: Nobody got on base until Rosario led off the bottom of the second with a double. With two out, Astudillo delivered an RBI single to put the Twins up 1-0. In the second, Schoop led off with a home run. Jorge Polanco and Garver followed with singles, and with one out Rosario and C. J. Cron came through with RBI singles, making it 4-0. The Twins poured on some more in the fourth. Astudillo led off with a double and Miguel Sano singled. With one out, Schoop walked to load the bases, Garver hit a two-run single, Nelson Cruz singled to re-load the bases, and Rosario singled home another run to give the Twins a 7-0 lead. They got one more in the fifth on a hit batsman, a single, a walk, and a sacrifice fly. It was 8-0 through five.
The Rays got on the board in the sixth when Adames led off with a home run. They somewhat got back into the game in the seventh. With two out, Travis D'Arnaud singled, Joey Wendle doubled, Michael Brosseau doubled home two, and Brandon Lowe hit an RBI triple, cutting the margin to 8-4. That was as close as they would get, however, as Tampa Bay went down in order in the eighth and ninth. The Twins added a run in the eighth on Garver's home run.
WP: Gibson (8-4). LP: Blake Snell (4-7). S: None.
Notes: Polanco was 1-for-3 with a walk and is batting .326. Garver is batting .305. Harper has an ERA of 2.27. Duffey has an ERA of 1.90.
Astudillo was in right field, with Kepler in center and Jake Cave on the bench. Cave came in to play center field in the fifth after Kepler was hit in the elbow by a pitch.* X-Rays were negative, but he will have an MRI today. Presumably even if we get good news he will miss a couple of days. Byron Buxton is eligible to come off the Injured List, but has not yet done so. I'm glad they're being careful with him, but his wrist injury was apparently worse than we were initially led to believe. If Buxton doesn't come back that pretty much leaves the Twins with three outfielders, and that's counting Astudillo as an outfielder. It would not be surprising to see the Twins bring up an outfielder from Rochester.
*Please, Kepler did not get "beaned in the elbow". A bean ball has a specific meaning. It means to throw at someone's head, the "bean". Saying he got "beaned in the elbow" is saying he got hit in the head in the elbow. It makes no sense. Now get off my lawn!
I don't know where this Twins team was for the last week and a half, but it was good to get them back. Stringing hits together, getting a couple of long balls, getting good starting pitching for six innings, even getting good relief pitching. One game doesn't mean much, of course, but we can hope this Twins team sticks around for a while.
Record: The Twins are 51-27, in first place in the American League Central, 8.5 games ahead of Cleveland.
Projected record: We're still on track for 135-27!
Date: Friday, June 14.
Batting stars: Ehire Adrianza was 2-for-4. Mitch Garver was 1-for-4 with a two-run homer, his eleventh.
Pitching stars: Kyle Gibson pitched eight shutout innings, giving up two hits and no walks and striking out six. Taylor Rogers pitched a perfect inning and struck out one.
Opposition star: Brad Keller pitched seven shutout innings, giving up three hits and three walks and striking out six.
The game: This really was an old-fashioned pitchers' duel. There was not even a real threat to score until the fifth, when MIguel Sano reached on an error with one out and Adrianza singled. A double play took the Twins out of the inning. The Twins put men on first and second in the sixth when Byron Buxton was hit by a pitch and Max Kepler walked, but a strikeout, a pair of fly outs ended that threat. In the seventh, Sano and Adrianza were again on first and second with one out, and again a double play ended the inning.
Finally, in the eighth, the Twins said, "Enough of this." Kepler drew a one-out walk, and with two down Garver hit a two-run homer for the only runs of the game. The Royals went down in order in the ninth.
WP: Gibson (7-3). LP: Jake Diekman (0-4). S: Rogers (7).
Notes: Adrianza was at shortstop, with Jorge Polanco at DH and Nelson Cruz out of the lineup.
Buxton was hit on the wrist by a pitch. Apparently he's day-to-day. I've said this before, but I'm always worried about hand and wrist injuries in a batter. It seems like players and teams never let them heal properly. Everyone, including the player, says that the player can play, and in fact he can. He just can't play well, especially at the plate. The Twins have a big division lead and Kepler can cover center field for a while. He's not going to be as good as Buxton there, but he'll get by. Let's give Buxton enough time for the wrist to be fully healed before we run him back out there.
Polanco was 0-for-3 with a walk and is batting.335. Garver is batting .318. Rogers has an ERA of 2.17.
Gibson apparently did not have any command issues last night. He did not walk anyone and threw just eighty-eight pitches in eight innings. He could have pitched the ninth, but Rogers has been the Twins' most reliable relief pitcher and hasn't pitched for a while. Plus, had Gibson started the ninth and someone reached base, Rogers would have come in anyway, and most pitchers (and managers) prefer having the reliever start the inning if possible. So, a perfectly understandable decision and, as it turned out, a good one.
Record: The Twins are 46-22, first in the American League Central, eleven games ahead of Cleveland.
Projected record: We're still on track for 140-22!
I was working in the video studio recording graduation last night, so I only saw the last inning of the game. It was a good inning to watch.
Like Jeff A, I haven't totally figured out the pattern for Rocco's bullpen usage, other than it seems that Taylor Rogers is probably the only reliever he trusts 100%. That's probably wise, as Rogers is obviously the best in the pen by a fair margin, but I sort of worry about overuse. It would be nice to get one more very good-to-elite arm out there, or for May or someone else to truly step up to the point where Rocco feels confident putting him out there in late and close against top teams.
Hopefully, we get Good Gibson and the bat's come out furious against Yonny Chirinos, a person I've never heard of, who has nonetheless put up a pretty solid season so far.
That ends today. Let's go, Twins!
Also... Burn the Trop to the ground. What a horrible stadium.