MINNESOTA 4, BOSTON 3 IN MINNESOTA (17 INNINGS)
Date: Tuesday, June 18.
Batting stars: Eddie Rosario was 4-for-8 with three doubles. Max Kepler was 3-for-5 with a home run (his eighteenth) and three RBIs. C. J. Cron was 2-for-5 with two walks and a hit-by-pitch. Jonathan Schoop was 2-for-7.
Pitching stars: Michael Pineda pitched six innings, giving up one run on five hits and one walk and striking out five. Trevor May pitched a scoreless inning, giving up a hit and striking out one. Taylor Rogers struck out two in a perfect inning. Tyler Duffey struck out three in two shutout innings, giving up one hit. Blake Parker pitched a scoreless inning, giving up two hits and striking out one. Matt Magill struck out two in two shutout innings, giving up three hits and a walk. Zack Littell struck out two in two shutout innings, giving up two hits.
Opposition stars: Brock Holt was 3-for-7 with a double. Rafael Devers was 3-for-8 with a home run (his twelfth) and two RBIs. Andrew Benintendi was 3-for-8 with a stolen base, his eighth. Jackie Bradley was 2-for-5 with a hit-by-pitch. Christian Vazquez was 2-for-7. Xander Bogaerts was 2-for-8 with a double. David Price pitched five innings, giving up one run on four hits and no walks and striking out two. Josh Taylor struck out four in two shutout innings, giving up one hit. Hector Velazquez pitched four innings, giving up one run on three hits and no walks and striking out three.
The game: The Red Sox got on the board in the fourth inning when Mookie Betts walked, stole second, and scored on a two-out single by Devers. The Twins got the run back in the bottom of the fourth when Rosario hit a two-out double and scored on a Cron single.
The Twins should have taken the lead in the sixth. Mitch Garver led off with a double and Nelson Cruz singled him to third with none out. But Garver was picked off third by the catcher and Rosario fouled out. The Twins still had a chance, as Cron was hit by a pitch and Kepler walked to load the bases, but Miguel Sano fanned to end the inning. The Red Sox immediately made them pay, as Devers led off the seventh with a home run to give Boston a 2-1 lead.
The Twins tied it up in the eighth. Walks to Garver and Cron put men on first and second with two out and Kepler delivered an RBI single to make the score 2-2. It stayed there for a while. Boston threatened in the tenth and twelfth and the Twins also threatened in the twelfth, but there was no more scoring until the thirteenth, when Betts led off with a home run. But Kepler led off with a home run in the bottom of the thirteenth to once again tie the score, and the teams played on.
The Red Sox again threatened in the fourteenth, getting leadoff singles from Holt and MIchael Chavis. A bunt (!) moved them to second and third, but nothing came of it. In the fifteenth Rosario led off with a double but was doubled off second on Cron's liner. In the top of the seventeenth, Benintendi singled and got to third on a stolen base-plus-error with none out, but a strikeout and two ground outs ended the inning without a score.
Finally came the bottom of the seventeenth. Luis Arraez had a one-out single and went to third on Rosario's double. Cron was intentionally walked, and Kepler again came through with an RBI single to win the game for the Twins.
WP: Littell (1-0). LP: Brian Johnson (1-1). S: None.
Notes: Marwin Gonzalez was again in right field, with Kepler starting the game on the bench. Jake Cave was in center field.
Arraez entered the game as a pinch-runner in the twelfth and went 1-for-2. He is batting .385. Jorge Polanco was 1-for-8 and is batting .326. Garver was 1-for-7 and is batting .301.
Ryne Harper gave up a run in an inning and has an ERA of 2.17. Rogers has an ERA of 2.03. Duffey has an ERA of 2.08. Mike Morin gave up a run in an inning and has an ERA of 1.65.
Garver was rightly criticized for getting picked off in the sixth. I also wonder why he did not dive back into the base, rather than going in standing up. But additionally, I wonder what the third base coach was doing. With a shift on and the third baseman playing well off the bag, this was obviously a planned play. It seems like the third base coach should be watching for that and make sure the runner is aware of it. Instead, it appeared that he became a spectator.
Watching part of the game last night, it seems to me that several Twins batters (not just Sano) have gotten a little homer-happy. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against home runs and I'm not calling for a return of the piranhas. But I saw several batters trying to jerk every pitch out of the park in situations where a single would've served us quite admirably. This may be something that the batting coach needs to address.
Lost in the long game is the fact that Pineda had his second good start in a row. Over those starts, he has pitched 11.2 innings and given up two runs on seven hits and three walks while striking out nine. He only threw eighty pitches last night, so it seems like he could've gone a seventh inning. Perhaps the Twins are still trying to be careful with him. But he hasn't had a really bad game in a month and a half and his ERA has fallen steadily from a peak of 6.21 to 4.76. I'm not nominating him for the Cy Young Award, but he's kept us in the game for eight starts in a row, and has done more than that in his last two.
The much maligned (and properly so) Twins bullpen pitched eleven innings and gave up just two runs. Further, both the runs came on solo homers, and we all know those don't hurt you. I won't be surprised if we bring up a "fresh arm for the bullpen", but only three of the eight relievers used threw more than eighteen pitches, so I assume most of them could pitch again tonight if needed.
Each team completely emptied its bullpen, using eight relief pitchers. Presumably, once the last guy came in he was in for the duration, unless the game had gone twenty-four innings or something. At that point, the teams would've had to decide whether to use a starting pitcher in relief or use a position player. That would've been interesting, but I'm fine with winning in the seventeenth instead.
It should be noted, as I'm sure it was numerous times during the game, that the Twins still have not lost three games in a row this season.
Record: The Twins are 48-24, first in the American League Central, ten games ahead of Cleveland.
Projected record: We're still on track for 138-24!