Tag Archives: Taylor Rogers

2019 Recap: Game One Hundred Thirty-one

MINNESOTA 3, CHICAGO 1 IN CHICAGO

Date:  Tuesday, August 27.

Batting stars:  Nelson Cruz was 2-for-4.  Marwin Gonzalez was 1-for-3 with a home run, his fifteenth.  Jonathan Schoop was 1-for-4 with a home run, his nineteenth.

PItching stars:  Michael Pineda struck out eight in five innings, giving up one run on four hits and a walk.  Sam Dyson pitched a perfect inning.  Tyler Duffey pitched a scoreless inning, giving up two hits.  Sergio Romo struck out the side in a perfect inning.  Taylor Rogers pitched a perfect inning and struck out one.

Opposition stars:  Lucas Giolito struck out nine in six innings, giving up two runs on four hits and three walks.  Yolmer Sanchez was 2-for-3.  Tim Anderson was 1-for-4 with a home run, his fourteenth.

The game:  The Twins put two on with one out in the first, as Jorge Polanco walked and Cruz singled, but nothing came of it.  In the second, however Gonzalez led off with a home run and Schoop hit a two-out homer, giving the Twins a 2-0 lead.  Pineda got through the first three innings without allowing a hit, but that changed when Anderson led off the fourth with a home run, cutting the margin to 2-1.  The White Sox also got a pair of two-out singles in the inning, but a ground out ended the threat.

Chicago got a threat going in the seventh, getting singles from Ryan Goins and Sanchez with one out.  Matt Skole struck out and Leury Garcia lined to third to end the inning.  The Twins got an insurance run in the eighth on singles by PolancoCruz, and Eddie Rosario.  The last eight White Sox were retired and the game belonged to the Twins.

WP:  Pineda (10-5).  LP:  Giolito (14-7).  S:  Rogers (21).

Notes:  Jake Cave was in center in the continued absence of Byron BuxtonGonzalez was in right in place of Max Kepler.  Kepler pinch-hit for Gonzalez in the eighth and went to center field, with Cave moving to right.  Rosario returned to the lineup in left field.

Duffey has an ERA of 2.80.  Rogers has an ERA of 2.47.

Pineda pitched well, but threw just five innings and eighty-nine pitches when he was removed from the game.  When that decision was made, we knew that either one of our top three relievers would pitch more than one inning or that we'd see Tyler Duffey with the game on the line.  Rocco clearly decided that was a better option than trying to push Pineda into a sixth inning, and he was proven to be right.  Duffey was a little shaky, but got the job done.

Duffey has, in fact, pitched very well lately.  He hasn't given up a run in over a month.  On July 23 his ERA was 3.82 and today it is 2.80.  That's fourteen appearances and twelve innings.  He has given up just six hits and five walks.  I still not sure how much I trust him with the game on the line, but he's been getting the job done.

This felt like a big game to win.  Time will tell if it actually is, of course.  But while the White Sox are not a good team, Giolito is a really good pitcher and he had shut the Twins down just last week.  The pitching matchups for the rest of the series seem much more favorable, although as we've said many times, it's baseball and you never know.  That means the Twins should have a good chance to sweep the series.  That would be good, because Cleveland is playing Detroit, and the Indians don't seem to be having any trouble taking care of business against the weak teams of the league.  As we approach September, the Twins need to do the same.

Record:  The Twins are 80-51, 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 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 One Hundred Twenty-two

MINNESOTA 4, TEXAS 3 IN TEXAS

Date:  Friday, August 16.

Batting stars:  Marwin Gonzalez was 3-for-4.  Jonathan Schoop was 1-for-3 with a two-run homer, his seventeenth.  Max Kepler was 1-for-4 with a two-run homer, his thirty-third.

Pitching stars:  Sam Dyson pitched a scoreless inning, giving up a hit and a walk.  Taylor Rogers struck out two in a scoreless inning, giving up two hits.  Sergio Romo pitched a scoreless inning, giving up a hit and a walk.

Opposition stars:  Mike Minor pitched seven innings, giving up four runs (three earned) on eight hits and a walk and striking out five.  Nomar Mazara was 3-for-4 with two doubles and two RBIs.  Willie Calhoun was 2-for-3 with a walk.

The game:  The Twins got two on in the first inning, but couldn't do anything with them.  The Rangers got two in the second, but a double play took them out of it.  The Twins broke through with one out in the fourth.  Miguel Sano reached on an error and Kepler followed with a two-run homer.  Texas immediately got one back in the bottom of the fourth on singles by Elvis Andrus and Calhoun and a wild pitch by Odorizzi.  Still, it was 2-1 Twins through four.

The lead lasted until the sixth.  Shin-Soo Choo led off with a double.  He had only made it to third with two out, but Calhoun then walked an Mazara delivered a two-run double, giving the Rangers a 3-2 advantage.

That lead lasted until the next half-inning.  With one out in the seventh, Gonzalez singled and Schoop followed with a two-run homer, putting the Twins up 4-3.

Texas threatened after that, but could not put the tying run across.  They had men on first and third with one out in the seventh, but a double play ended the inning.  They had men on first and third with two out in the eighth, but a strikeout ended the inning.  They got a one-out double in the ninth, but again could not score him.  The Twins held on for the victory.

WP:  Dyson (5-1).  LP:  Minor (11-7).  S:  Romo (20).

Notes:  Luis Arraez was in left field, with Eddie Rosario given the night off.  Rosario came in for defense late in the game, with Arraez moving to second and Schoop coming out of the game.  Jorge Polanco was at designated hitter in the absence of Nelson Cruz, with Ehire Adrianza playing shortstop.  Kepler remained in center and Gonzalez in right in the absence of Byron Buxton.

Arraez was 1-for-4 and is batting .353.  Rogers has an ERA of 2.63.

The Twins did not make any errors and only threw one pitch to the backstop.  Improvement!

The game featured a matchup between Odor and Odorizzi.  Odor walked once and flied out.

It may have been mentioned during the broadcast, but Kepler's home run gave him the record for most home runs in a season by a European-born player.  He broke the record of thirty-two set by Bobby Thomson in 1951.

When the Twins went down 3-2 in the sixth, I was confident that they were going to get the lead back.  I was not confident that they would keep it, but I was confident that they would get it back.  I can't tell you why, I just was.  And, of course, they did.

I did not hear an explanation for why Rogers pitched the eighth and Romo pitched the ninth, rather than the other way around.  There may have been some matchups that influenced Rocco's thinking.  Rocco has never said that Rogers is the closer, even though he's been using him that way.  As we observed early in the season, if you don't announce that someone is your closer, then you don't have to explain why you didn't use them in that role.

We've talked about the Twins losing winnable games.  One might say that here, the Twins won a loseable game.  The only scored two runs in the first six innings, and only had four total.  They lost the lead in the sixth.  The Rangers had men all over the bases in the last three innings but did not tie the score.  They went just 1-for-11 with men in scoring position, while the Twins went 0-for-2 in that situation.  The Twins had more runs at the end, and that's all that matters.

Record:  The Twins are 74-48, in first place in the American League Central, 1.5 games ahead of Cleveland.

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

2019 Recap: Game Ninety-five

MINNESOTA 6, OAKLAND 3 IN MINNESOTA

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!

2019 Recap: Game Ninety

MINNESOTA 5, CLEVELAND 3 IN CLEVELAND

Date:  Friday, July 12.

Batting stars:  Nelson Cruz was 1-for-4 with a home run (his seventeenth) and a walk.  Mitch Garver was 1-for-4 with a home run, his fourteenth.

Pitching stars:  Trevor May retired all four men he faced, striking out two.  Zack Littell pitched a scoreless inning, giving up a hit and a walk and striking out one.  Ryne Harper pitched a perfect inning and struck out one.  Taylor Rogers struck out three in two shutout innings, giving up one hit.

Opposition stars:  Mike Clevenger struck out six in five innings, giving up one run on four hits and two walks.  Jose Ramirez was 2-for-4.  Carlos Santana was 1-for-4 with a home run, his twentieth.

The game:  Cruz hit a two-out home run in the first inning to give the Twins a 1-0 lead.  The Indians got a man to second base in each of the first two innings but did not break through until the fourth.  Santana homered to lead off the inning and tie the score.  Jason Kipnis walked and an error put men on first and third.  They were still on second and third with two out, but Roberto Perez singled to drive in two and give Cleveland a 3-1 lead.

It looked for a while like that might hold up.  The Twins put men on second and third with none out in the fifth, but a ground out and two strikeouts ended the inning.  They had men on first and second with one out in the sixth, but a double play ended that inning.

Then came the seventh.  An error and a walk put men on first and third with two out.  Max Kepler came up and hit a ground ball to shortstop.  He was called out at first and it looked like yet another Twins threat had come to nothing.  But the Twins challenged and a replay review determined that Kepler was safe, making the score 3-2.  Jorge Polanco then swatted a two-run double and the Twins had a 4-3 lead.  A Garver home run in the eighth made it 5-3.  The Indians did not get a man past first base after the fourth inning.

WP:  Littell (2-0).  LP:  Oliver Perez (2-2).  S:  Rogers (13).

Notes:  Marwin Gonzalez was in left, replacing Eddie Rosario.  Luis Arraez was at second base in place of Jonathan Schoop.  Ehire Adrianza was at first base, replacing C. J. Cron.

Arraez was 1-for-4 and is batting .386.  Polanco was 1-for-4 and is batting .311.  May has an ERA of 2.94.  Harper has an ERA of 2.84.  Rogers has an ERA of 1.73.

Just looking at the printed play-by-play, it seems like a very quick hook for Kyle Gibson.  They don't appear to have been hitting a lot of balls hard off him, and he certainly wasn't getting much help from his defense.  I'm not second-guessing the decision, because a) there are always things you can't tell from the printed play-by-play and b) it clearly worked.  The Much Maligned Twins Bullpen pitched 5.1 scoreless innings and really never even allowed Cleveland to put together a threat.

The quick hook showed that Rocco was not looking at this as just another game.  He thought it was an important game for the Twins to win, and he was going to give them every chance to win it.  It was a risk, because if the Twins hadn't come back he'd have used four or five relievers in a loss, which of course hurts you for the next game.  He had the advantage of a fully rested bullpen after the all-star break, but it was still a gamble that he won.

I think he was right to not look at it as just another game.  We said going in that by Sunday night the Twins' lead would either be 2.5, 4.5, 6.5, or 8.5 games, and that's obviously a big spread.  We can eliminate the "2.5" now, and that's a very good thing.  We'd all love to have it be one of the bigger numbers, but even if it's 4.5 it's not going to feel like things are falling apart, the way it would have had the Indians gotten a sweep.  With Odorizzi and Berrios pitching the next two games, the Twins should have a good chance to win at least one of them.  Of course, with Bauer and Bieber going, the Indians probably feel the same way.

One thing I like about Rocco is that he doesn't feel a need to make big announcements about what he's doing.  He just does it.  Rogers is clearly the closer now, even if he's not being used in the "traditional" way, but Rocco has never said he's the closer.  Littell is clearly a one-inning guy now (he's pitched one inning in each of his last six appearances), but Rocco has never said he's a one-inning guy.  He just uses him that way.  If you don't make an announcement about it, then you don't feel locked in to doing it that way.  You also don't have to explain to anyone if you do something differently from what you've announced.  Of course, you have to get players to buy in to the fact that they aren't going to know exactly what their role is every day, but Rocco seems to be able to do that, at least so far.

Record:  The Twins are 57-33, in first place in the American League Central, 6.5 games ahead of Cleveland.

Projected record:  We're still on track for 129-33!

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-nine

MINNESOTA 6, TAMPA BAY 4 IN MINNESOTA

Date:  Wednesday, June 26.

Batting stars:  Nelson Cruz was 3-for-4 with a double and three RBIs.  Eddie Rosario was 2-for-2.  Luis Arraez was 2-for-3 with a walk and two runs.

Pitching star:  Taylor Rogers retired all four men he faced.

Opposition stars:  Austin Meadows was 2-for-3 with a walk.  Kevin Kiermaier was 1-for-4 with a two-run homer, his ninth.  Tommy Pham was 1-for-4 with a home run, his twelfth.  Willy Adames was 1-for-4 with a home run, his ninth.

The game:  The Twins opened the scoring in the first inning.  Arraez led off with a walk.  With one out, the Twins got singles from CruzRosario, and C. J. Cron, plus a wild pitch, to take a 3-0 lead.  It didn't stay 3-0 long, as Meadows walked to start the second and Kiermaier hit a one-out two-run homer to cut the lead to 3-2.

It stayed 3-2, with neither team doing a lot on offense, until the sixth, when Pham homered with one out to tie the score 3-3.  Adames hit a one-out homer in the seventh to give the Rays their first lead at 4-3.

Then came the bottom of the seventh.  Jason Castro got an infield single and Jake Cave reached on an error, putting men on first and second with none out.  Jonathan Schoop failed to get a bunt down and struck out, but Arraez singled to load the bases.  Jorge Polanco popped up for the second out, but there's no need to fear, Nelson Cruz is here.  Cruz hit a bases-clearing double to give the Twins the lead at 6-4.  Tampa Bay could get only a one-out single in the eighth after that.

WP:  Trevor May (3-1).  LP:  Charlie Morton (8-2).  S:  Taylor Rogers (10).

Notes:  Arraez started the game at third base in place of Miguel Sano.  The starting outfield, from left to right, was Willians Astudillo-Rosario-Cave.  Then, of course, Rosario was injured running the bases in the third inning.  Sano came into the game at third base, with Arraez going to left field, Cave moving to center, and Astudillo moving to right.  In the eighth, Max Kepler came into the game in center field, with Cave going to right, Astudillo moving back to left, and Arraez going to third base, with Sano coming out of the game.

Arraez was put into the leadoff spot, and apparently the pressure did not bother him.  He is now batting .452.  Polanco was 0-for-4 and is batting .321.  Jake Odorizzi allowed three runs in 5.1 innings and has an ERA of 2.73.  Ryne Harper retired both men he faced and has an ERA of 2.23.  Rogers now has an ERA of 2.04.

Every member of the Twins starting outfield is now dealing with an injury.  Kepler came in for defense--maybe he'll be well enough to play today.  Maybe Byron Buxton can come off the disabled list.  Maybe, against all odds, Rosario's injury isn't that bad and he can play.  If not, though, they'd better have made a call to Rochester last night.  An Astudillo-Rosario-Cave outfield was shaky enough.  An Arraez-Cave-Astudillo outfield is simply untenable.  The Twins were lucky that it didn't particularly hurt them last night, but that kind of luck is not going to hold.

Schoop tried to bunt in the seventh inning with men on first and second with the Twins down a run.  I don't think a bunt is an obviously bad play there, but it is if you don't have a batter at the plate who can get the bunt down.  Bunting, for a big league ballplayer, should not be that hard of a thing to do, but you need to learn how to do it properly.  So, if you're going to ask players to bunt, you need to take the time to teach them to do it correctly and take the time to have them practice it regularly.  Is bunting worth the time it takes to learn to do it right?  That's a good question.  But either have players who can bunt well or don't do it.  Giving up an out to gain a base may be a questionable strategy, but giving up an out and not gaining anything is a strategy that has nothing going for it.

The Twins did not hit any home runs last night, a rare thing for this season but especially rare in a game that they won.  In a way, though, it's a good thing.  I have nothing against home runs, but it's good for a team to have more than one way it can win.  My theory for some time has been that the more ways you have that you can win, the more likely it is that you will win.  A team that can win in several ways has an advantage over a team that can only win one way.  It's good to know the Twins can beat a good team without hitting home runs.

Record:  The Twins are 52-27, first in the American League Central, 8.5 games ahead of Cleveland.

Projected record:  We're still on track 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-two

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!

2019 Recap: Game Sixty-eight

MINNESOTA 2, KANSAS CITY 0 IN MINNESOTA

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!