Tag Archives: Ryne Harper

2019 Recap: Game Twenty-three

MINNESOTA 6, BALTIMORE 1 IN MINNESOTA

Date:  Friday, April 26.

Batting stars:  Nelson Cruz was 3-for-4 with two home runs, his fourth and fifth.  Max Kepler was 2-for-4 with a home run, his fourth.  C. J. Cron was 1-for-3 with a home run, his fourth.  Eddie Rosario was 1-for-4 with a home run (his eleventh) and two runs.

Pitching stars:  Martin Perez pitched six innings, giving up one run on six hits and no walks and striking out four.  Ryne Harper pitched a perfect inning, striking out one.  Fernando Romero struck out two in a scoreless inning, giving up a hit and a walk.

Opposition stars:  Trey Mancini was 3-for-5 with a double.  Jonathan Villar was 2-for-4 with a walk.  Gabriel Ynoa pitched 3.1 innings, giving up one run on four hits and no walks and striking out one.

The game:  With two out in the first, the Twins hit back-to-back-to-back home runs, with CruzRosario, and Cron all going deep to give Minnesota a 3-0 lead.  The Twins missed a chance to add to their lead in the second, as they put men on first and second with none out and did not score.  In the third, however, Rosario singled, went to second on a ground out, and scored on an error to make it 4-0.

The Orioles, who did not have a baserunner through three innings, opened the fourth with consecutive singles, but a double play took them out of the inning.  Meanwhile, Kepler homered in the fourth and Cruz hit his second homer of the game in the fifth to make the margin 6-0.

The Orioles sixth opened the same way their fourth had, with consecutive singles by Villar and Mancini.  This time there was no double play, however, and a one-out single by Dwight Smith got Baltimore on the board at 6-1.  They threatened in the eighth, as a Mancini double and two-out walks to Smith and Rio Ruiz loaded the bases.  Trevor May came in and retired Hanser Alberto on a force out.  Baltimore also put a couple of men on in the ninth but again did not score.

WP:  Perez (3-0).  LP:  Alex Cobb (0-2).  S:  None.

Notes:  Mitch Garver was 1-for-3 with a walk and is batting .400.  Jorge Polanco was 0-for-4 and is batting .349.  Willians Astudillo was 1-for-1 as a pinch-hitter and is batting .313.  Cruz raised his average to .308.

Harper lowered his ERA to 2.45.  Matt Magill made his season debut and pitched two-thirds of an inning, giving up a hit and two walks but no runs, so his ERA is zero.

As you can see, the Twins hit five solo home runs in this game.  I don't know what the record is for solo home runs in a game, but I'd think five has to be fairly close.  If you just look at most solo home runs without getting any other kind of home run, it seems like it'd be even closer.

It was kind of lost in all the home runs, and kind of discounted because they were playing the Orioles, but Perez had another fine game.  I was pretty skeptical about Perez when the Twins acquired him, and his first few relief appearances did nothing to dim my skepticism.  In his three starts, however, he has pitched very well.  He has pitched six innings in each game and has given up six runs, giving him an ERA of 3.00 with a WHIP of 1.17.  He has struck out eleven and walked just three.  We'll see if he can keep it going, but so far he's pitched quite well as a starter.

I don't know why A-Stud didn't start on La Tortuga night, but you can't argue with the results.  I've said before that I have no idea how Rocco decides who his catcher is going to be on a given night, and that continues to be true.  I assume he has a method, that it's not just random, but he doesn't seem to want to tell anyone what it is.  And that's fine--he doesn't owe it to me or anyone else to explain how he chooses his lineup, and I haven't heard anything about any of the players complaining.  Winning helps a lot with that, of course.

One can feel a bit for the Orioles fans.  We've all rooted for some bad Twins teams, and we know it's not any fun.  But there's nothing we can do for them, just as no one did anything for us when the Twins stunk.  The Twins are doing what you're supposed to do with bad teams--take care of business and beat them.  The Orioles will be good again someday, and I'm sure they'll return the favor to us if they can.  That's just how it works.

Record:  The Twins are 14-9, in first place in the American League Central, leading Cleveland by percentage points.

Projected record:  We're still on track for 153-9!

2019 Recap: Game Twenty-one

HOUSTON 10, MINNESOTA 4 IN HOUSTON

Date:  Tuesday, April 23.

Batting stars:  Jonathan Schoop was 2-for-4 with two doubles.  Eddie Rosario was 1-for-4 with a three-run homer, his tenth.

Pitching star:  Ryne Harper retired both batters he faced.

Opposition stars:  Tyler White was 2-for-2 with a walk and two runs.  George Springer was 2-for-3 with two walks, scoring twice and driving in two.  Carlos Correa was 2-for-4 with a double.  Josh Reddick was 2-for-4 with a double and two runs.  Jose Altuve was 1-for-4 with a three-run homer (his ninth) and a walk.  Wade Miley struck out seven in six innings, giving up three runs on three hits and a walk.

The game:  It looked good early.  Mitch Garver led off the game with a single, Nelson Cruz drew a one-out walk, and Rosario followed with a three-run homer, putting the Twins up 3-0.  The Astros got on the board in the third, as White walked, Max Stassi singled, and Springer had an RBI single, but a double play got the inning back under control and the Twins still led 3-1.  It was just a temporary reprieve, however.  In the fifth, Reddick doubled and White singled, putting men on first and third with none out.  Stassi flied out, but Springer had a run-scoring double and Alex Bregman delivered a two-out two-run single to put Houston ahead 4-3.

Meanwhile, the Twins had not had a baserunner since Schoop led off the second with a double.  They hit some balls hard--it's not like there were helpless up there--but still, Miley closed out his evening with fifteen consecutive batters retired.  Hector Rondon came in to start the seventh and retired the first two men he faced.  Then, however, Schoop doubled and Max Kepler came through with a single to tie the score 4-4.  The Twins got men to second and third with two out, but Garver's fly to deep left ended the inning.

And then things fell apart.  Trevor Hildenberger came in to start the seventh.  A single and two walks loaded the bases with one out.  Bregman's sacrifice fly gave the Astros a 5-4 lead.  Adalberto Mejia came in to give up a run-scoring single to Michael Brantley, making the score 6-4.

It didn't get better in the eighth.  Tyler Duffey had come on to get the last out of the seventh and remained in the game.  An error and a single put men on first and third, and another error scored a run.  A passed ball put men on second and third, still with none out.  Stassi and Springer struck out, giving hope that the Twins might at least have a small chance to come back in the ninth.  That hope was dashed as Altuve hit a three-run homer to put the game out of reach at 10-4.  The Twins went down in order in the ninth.

WP:  Rondon (2-0).  LP:  Hildenberger (2-1).  S:  None.

Notes:  With a lefty starting for Houston, Garver was moved to the leadoff spot, with Max Kepler batting eighth.

Garver was 1-for-4 and is batting .405.  Jorge Polanco was 0-for-4 and is batting .372.  Harper lowered his ERA to 2.70.  Hildenberger was charged with two runs on one hit and two walks in two-thirds of an inning, but his ERA is still 2.16.  All four runs off Duffey in 1.1 innings were unearned, so his ERA drops to 1.69.

Rosario's homer made him the first Twin to ever reach ten homers before May 1.  Of course, back in the day, the season didn't start until the middle of April.  Still, it's an achievement, and he deserves credit for it.

I feel like the Twins' bullpen has done fairly well overall, but when it goes south it seems to go clear to Antarctica.  Last night the relief pitchers combined to allow six runs in 2.2 innings.  Four of the runs were unearned, but that's still not good.  They walked three in that span, which obviously contributed to the troubles, especially in the seventh inning.

Twins batters did not have a lot of luck last night.  The play-by-play at b-r.com indicates five deep fly balls for outs, plus one line drive out.  That's not to say that the Twins deserved to win, but had just a couple of those hard-hit balls been hits, things might have gone differently.

It sounds like Kohl Stewart is coming up to make the start tonight against Justin Verlander.  That does not seem like a favorable matchup for the Twins, to put it mildly.  Still, it's baseball.  One never knows what might happen.

Record:  The Twins are 13-8, in first place in the American League Central, 1.5 games ahead of Cleveland and Detroit.

Projected record:  We'll just have to settle for 154-8!

2019 Recap: Game Thirteen

TORONTO 5, MINNESOTA 3 IN MINNESOTA

Date:  Monday, April 15.

Batting stars:  Jorge Polanco was 3-for-3.  C. J. Cron was 1-for-4 with a three-run homer, his second.

Pitching stars:  Martin Perez pitched six innings, giving up one run on seven hits and two walks and striking out five.  Ryne Harper struck out two in a perfect inning.

Opposition stars:  Teoscar Hernandez was 3-for-4 with a  three-run homer.  Randal Grichuk was 3-for-4 with two doubles.  Justin Smoak was 2-for-3 with a walk and a double.

The game:  The Blue Jays got a man to second with two out in the first and with none out in the second, but could not score.  They broke through in the fourth when Smoak doubled, Hernandez singled, and Alen Hanson hit a sacrifice fly.

The Twins came back in the bottom of the fourth.  Polanco led off with a single, Eddie Rosario drew a one-out walk, and Cron hit a three-run homer to put the Twins up 3-1.

It looked like that would be enough.  Perez cruised through the fifth and sixth, although he was helped in the sixth by a strange baserunning blunder (more on that in the notes).  Harper had a perfect seventh.  It appeared that this one would go into the win column for the Twins.

It wasn't to be.  Adalberto Mejia came in to pitch the eighth and the roof fell in (if there had been a roof).  Freddy Galvis singled and Grichuk doubled.  Smoak singled home a run to make it 3-2 and Hernandez followed with a three-run homer to put Toronto up 5-3.  The Twins could do nothing in the last two innings and the game was lost.

WP:  Sam Gaviglio (1-0).  LP:  Mejia (0-1).  S:  Joe Biagini (1).

Notes:  MItch Garver was moved to the leadoff spot in the batting order.  It didn't work in this game, as he went 0-for-4, but of course that doesn't mean it was a bad move.  He's still batting .423.  I like that Rocco seems to be willing to be creative and do some things that are unconventional.  They're not all going to work all the time, but going by the book doesn't work all the time, either.

Polanco raised his average to .420.

I was pretty skeptical about Perez, but he pitched a fine game last night.  One game does not a season make, but he got out of trouble a couple of times and didn't seem at all rattled when he was in trouble.  All in all, a good performance.

That baserunning play in the sixth.  I'm still recovering from illness, so I was no longer following the game at that point.  Hernandez was on first with one out.  The play-by-play then reads "Hernandez caught stealing first, pitcher to first", which is something I don't think I've ever seen before.  I gather what happened is that both the batter, Brandon Drury, and Hernandez thought that ball three to Drury was ball four.  Drury trotted to first, Hernandez started to go to second, and was tagged out.  As Tim Kurkjian says, every time you go to the park there's a chance you'll see something you've never seen before.

The decision to go to Mejia in the eighth was unfortunate, but it was really more a product of circumstances rather than a managerial blunder.  As socal and others have pointed out, there weren't a lot of good options for Rocco.  HildenbergerRogers, and Parker had each pitched in the last two games, and I can see not wanting to use them three days in a row, especially with no off days coming up for a while.  May did not pitch two games in a row, but he had pitched Sunday and had warmed up Saturday, so I can see not wanting to use him for two innings.  Perhaps he'd have pitched the ninth had the Twins remained in the lead, but we'll never know.  Given all that, the options were Mejia and Andrew Vasquez, and Mejia certainly seems to be the better choice.

Another option, of course, would've been to leave Harper in to pitch a second inning.  We'll never know how that might have worked.  But there may be another thing playing into this, too.  Rocco is still trying to find out what some of his players can and can't do.  He needs to know if Mejia is someone he can bring into a situation like this, or if he's simply a groundskeeper.  And it's not like he brought him into the game with the bases loaded--he came in to start the inning, leading by two.  That's an important situation, of course, but it doesn't seem like he was putting Mejia into a situation that was clearly too big for him.  Mejia just didn't get the job done.

Record:  The Twins are 8-5, in first place in the American League Central, a half game ahead of Cleveland.

Projected record:  We'll just have to settle for 157-5!

2019 Recap: Game Six

PHILADELPHIA 10, MINNESOTA 4 IN PHILADELPHIA

Date:  Friday, April 5.

Batting stars:  Jorge Polanco was 5-for-5 with a home run, a triple, and a double.  Jonathan Schoop was 2-for-4.  Max Kepler was 1-for-5 with a two-run homer.

Pitching stars:  Ryne Harper struck out two in 1.1 scoreless innings, giving up one hit.  Trevor Hildenberger struck out two in 1.1 scoreless innings, giving up two hits.  Trevor May pitched a scoreless inning, giving up one hit.

Opposition stars:  Rhys Hoskins was 3-for-4 with a walk.  Odubel Herrera was 3-for-5.  Jean Segura was 2-for-5 with a double and two runs.

The game:  The Twins got a one-out triple from Polanco in the first but wasted it.  The Phillies then took control early, scoring five runs in the bottom of the first.  Andrew McCutchen walked and scored on Segura's double-plus-error.  With one out, Hoskins singled in the second run, J. T. Realmuto walked, and Cesar Hernandez drew a two-out walk to load the bases.  That brought a quick end to Jake Odorizzi's night, as Harper came in and gave up a bloop double-plus-error to Maikel Franco that cleared the bases.

The Twins tried to get back into it.  In the third Ehire Adrianza had a pinch-hit single and Kepler hit a two-run homer to cut the margin to 5-2.  Philadelphia got one of the runs back in the bottom of the third on a walk, an error, a single, and a sacrifice fly.  But the Twins kept fighting.  Polanco led off the fifth with a home run.  Eddie Rosario singled.  Martin Perez bunted into a force out, but an error put Perez on second base.  A ground out and Jake Cave's infield single cut the margin to 6-4.

That was as good as it would get.  The Phillies scored once in the bottom of the fifth, as Hernandez and Franco drew two-out walks and Aaron Altherr followed with a double.  They put it out of reach in the seventh with another two-out rally.  McCutchen walked, Segura singled, and Harper walked, loading the bases.  Hoskins then hit a three-run single, with Harper scoring all the way from first when Rosario took his time getting the ball back into the infield.  The score went to 10-4, and that was how it ended.

WP:  Nick Pivetta (0-1).  LP:  Jake Odorizzi (0-1).  S:  None.

Notes:  Byron Buxton was again out of the lineup.  He said he could have played; perhaps Baldelli was just being cautious, especially on a wet field.  We hope he'll be back today.

Cory Provus mentioned that Odorizzi was upset when he was taken out.  I don't know if he was upset with the manager or with himself.  I hope it was the latter.  Yes, he had given up just two runs, and you could argue that it was somewhat of a quick hook.  But he wasn't getting much accomplished out there.  I'm not holding it against him--it's one game, and most pitchers will have a stink bomb or two over the course of a season.  It's only when it becomes a trend that it's worrisome.

The Twins just had an overall sloppy game.  I wonder if they expected the game to get rained out and just weren't mentally ready to play.  That's pure speculation, but they issued nine walks, made three errors, and had other mistakes as well.  Again, it happens to everybody once in a while.  It just better not happen very often.

The Twins had brought Harper in to pitch in the first and pulled him for a pinch-hitter in the top of the third, meaning he pitched just 1.1 innings.  I said at the time that I would not have done it that way, and the fact that pinch-hitter Adrianza got a hit and Kepler followed with a two-run homer doesn't change my mind.  I understand why you do it.  He was leading off the inning, and you're trying to score some runs and get back into the game.  The downside of it, though, is what ultimately happened--the Twins went through five relief pitchers in a game they wouldn't win anyway.  Baldelli didn't know that they wouldn't win it, of course, and you don't want to give up on a game in the third inning.  But when you're down 5-0 you know the odds are against you, and I'd argue that letting Harper bat would not have been giving up on the game.  It would just have been giving up one out in the third inning.  Don't get me wrong--I'm not arguing that pinch-hitting was a blatantly stupid move.  I just wouldn't have done it that way.

As it happens, the Twins don't have a long reliever to use today if Michael Pineda falters early.  It's true that, other than Perez, nobody pitched more than 1.1 innings, and so (again other than Perez) they could probably all pitch again today.  But you're not going to use any of them for three or four innings, so if you do get a short start you're going to have to run through them all again.  That would really put the pressure on Jose Berrios to go seven or so on Sunday.  Not that he can't do it, but it's still not an ideal situation.

Record:  The Twins are 4-2, in first place in the American League Central, leading Detroit by percentage points.

Projected record:  We'll just have to settle for 160-2!