Tag Archives: Tyler Duffey

2019 Recap: Game One Hundred Forty

MINNESOTA 2, BOSTON 1 IN BOSTON

Date:  Thursday, September 5.

Batting stars:  Willians Astudillo was 1-for-1.  Miguel Sano was 0-for-1 with three walks.  Mitch Garver was 0-for-1 with three walks.

Pitching stars:  Martin Perez pitched six innings, giving up one run on two hits and two walks and striking out one.  Trevor May pitched a perfect inning and struck out one.  Tyler Duffey struck out two in a perfect inning.

Opposition stars:  Mookie Betts was 2-for-4 with a home run (his twenty-sixth) and a double.  Nathan Eovaldi pitched five innings, giving up one run on one hit and four walks and striking out three.

The game:  Neither team even threatened until the fourth, when Betts led off the inning with a home run to give the Red Sox a 1-0 lead.  The Twins got the run back in the fifth, although it wasn't easy.  They opened the inning with three walks, loading the bases with one out.  Then they did what the Twins usually do with the bases loaded.  A double play scored a run and a line out ended the inning.  Still, at least it was tied 1-1.

Boston threatened in the sixth when Betts got a two-out double and Xander Bogaerts walked, and a pickoff error moved them to second and third, but a ground out ended the inning.  In the seventh, a pair of one-out walks and a two-out walk again loaded the bases for the Twins. Astudillo pinch-hit a single to bring home the go-ahead run.  They missed a chance for more when Max Kepler struck out, but it was a 2-1 lead for the good guys.

It stayed there, but it wasn't easy.  The Twins missed another chance in the ninth, when a two-out walk and and an error put men on first and second.  In the bottom of the ninth, Bogaerts got a one-out single.  A force out made the runner Rafael Devers with two out.  J. D. Martinez then doubled off the Green Monster.  Devers tried to score from first, but was cut down on a perfect throw by Eddie Rosario to end the game.

WP:  Perez (10-6).  LP:  Andrew Cashner (11-8).  S:  Taylor Rogers (24).

Notes:  Byron Buxton remained out of the lineup, although he pinch-ran and stayed in the game for defense.  Jake Cave was in center and Kepler in right, a reversal of the way the Twins have been playing.  I don't know if Kepler's health had anything to do with that.  Luis Arraez was at shortstop in place of Jorge Polanco.

Arraez was 1-for-3 with a walk and is batting .343.  Nelson Cruz was 0-for-4 and is batting .305.  Duffey has an ERA of 2.59.  Sergio Romo gave up one hit and no runs in a third of an inning and has an ERA of 3.00.  Rogers gave up one hit and no runs in two-thirds of an inning and has an ERA of 2.49.

Perez is probably the last Twins starter one would expect to be in an old-fashioned pitchers' duel.  And he did it in an old-fashioned way, getting only one strikeout, but giving up only two hits.  I don't know if he got a lot of soft contact or if his defense made some good plays or some of both.  It's not the recommended way to go about it these days, but it worked.

Was Polanco unavailable for some reason?  I mean, it's one thing to give him a night off--Rocco has actually been very good about keeping everyone rested, and I don't have a problem with that.  But I don't know why, when the Twins had a late lead, you wouldn't play Polanco at short and Arraez at second, rather than leaving Arraez at short and playing Astudillo at second.  They could've gone with Ehire Adrianza at second as well, but the game log indicated that perhaps he was unavailable.  Much as I have faith in A-Stud to be able to do everything that it's humanly possible to do on a baseball field, and perhaps something that are not humanly possible as well, the defensive arrangement they went to late in the game is not the defensive arrangement I'd have preferred.  Still, they won the game.

I was unable to watch any of the game and just turned on the radio to hear the last two batters.  Given that the play at the plate ended the game, I kept expecting to hear that Boston was asking for a review, just because there'd be nothing to lose.  When I saw the play, though, I understood why they didn't.  There was simply nothing to review.  Rosario made a beautiful throw and Devers was as out as it's possible for a baserunner to be.  It was a tremendous way to end a tremendous game.

I wonder sometimes if the Twins might have a better chance to score with two out and nobody on than they do with the bases loaded.  I'm sure that's not literally true, but it sure seems like it is.

So the Twins go into a weekend series with a 6.5 game lead on second-place Cleveland.  Even if the Twins lose all three, they're still up by 3.5 games with three weeks to play, which isn't a bad place to be at all.  If they just win one, they're up 5.5, which is an even better place to be.  If they'd win the series, or even sweep, the Indians would start focusing on winning the wild card.  ubelmann used to tell us that it's not really a "must win" game unless a loss eliminates you, and there's truth in that.  In baseball, as in life, nothing is certain until it actually happens.  Still, I'd much rather be in Minnesota's position than in Cleveland's position right now.

Record:  The Twins are 87-53, in first place in the American League Central, 6.5 games ahead of Cleveland.

Projected record:  We're still on track for 109-53!

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-seven

CHICAGO 4, MINNESOTA 0 IN MINNESOTA

Date:  Wednesday, August 21.

Batting stars:  None.

Pitching stars:  Ryne Harper pitched a scoreless inning, giving up a hit and a walk and striking out one.  Sam Dyson pitched a perfect inning and struck out one.  Tyler Duffey struck out two in a perfect inning.  Trevor May pitched a scoreless inning, giving up a hit and striking out one.

Opposition stars:  Lucas Giolito struck out twelve in a complete game shutout, giving up three hits and no walks.  Jose Abreu was 3-for-5 with a double and two RBIs.  Leury Garcia was 2-for-5 with two runs.  Tim Anderson was 2-for-5.

The game:  The Twins helped the White Sox get two runs in the first inning.  Garcia led off with a single, and runners were on first and second when Jorge Polanco failed to touch second on what should have been a force out.  Abreu then singled home a run, a wild pitch moved runners to second and third, and Matt Skole singled to make it 2-0.

In the third, singles by Garcia, Anderson, and Abreu made it 3-0.  In the fifth, Abreu doubled, went to third on a ground out, and scored on a wild pitch to make it 4-0.

Meanwhile, the Twins could get nothing accomplished on offense.  Polanco had a bunt single in the first, Nelson Cruz had a one-out single in the fourth, and Jonathan Schoop had a one-out double in the eighth.  That was all the offense the Twins had, with Schoop the only Twin to get as far as second base.

WP:  Giolito (14-6).  LP:  Jake Odorizzi (13-6).  S:  None.

Notes:  Max Kepler remained in center field, with Jake Cave in right, in the continued absence of Byron Buxton.  Luis Arraez was at third base, with Miguel Sano moving to first.  Eddie Rosario started in left, but was removed in the fifth inning due to a tight hamstring.  Rather than use an outfielder, the Twins moved Arraez to left, Sano to third, and put Ehire Adrianza in the game at first base.  I'm not sure why you'd rather have Sano at third than Adrianza, but I admit that I haven't looked at their defensive stats at third base.

Arraez was 0-for-3 and is batting .341.  Cruz was 1-for-4 and is batting .303.  Duffey has an ERA of 2.95.

The Twins made another error and threw three more pitches to the backstop.  I'm probably sounding like Johnny One-note mentioning this all the time, but I'd be happy to stop mentioning it if the Twins would stop doing it.  I could easily have missed it, but I don't remember Rocco or the front office publicly addressing the defensive lapses.  The only thing I've hears is the occasional comment that "No one feels worse about that than [the responsible player]", which is probably true but doesn't do anything to solve the problem.  I have no idea what may be going on privately, of course, nor is there any reason I should.  But whatever they may be doing privately doesn't seem to be helping, and publicly they don't seem very concerned.  They should be.  When you play bad teams, you can sometimes rely on your batting to overcome your defensive woes.  When you play good teams, you can't afford to give them free bases and extra outs.  The Twins had better get the defense tightened up pretty soon.

It's obviously disappointing to lose two of three to the lowly White Sox, and it's tempting to get really upset about it.  But the thing is, that's baseball.  A bad team takes a series from a good team sometimes.  Giolito is a very good pitcher, and he'll shut a team down sometimes.  Ivan Nova is not as good as Giolito, but he's good enough that he'll have an occasional really good game, too.  And the Twins did not have a lot of luck in this series--fourteen hits with only four runs in the first game, lots of soft-contact hits for the White Sox in the last game.  It happens.  Yes, the Twins made some contributions to their bad luck, but it was still a factor.  It happens, because it's baseball.  That's why there's no such thing as an upset in any particular baseball game.  As Joaquin Andujar told us, the one word that describes baseball best is youneverknow.

The good news is that Cleveland lost, too.  The Twins don't have to win any specific number of games to win the division.  They just have to win one more than the Indians.  Right now, they've won three more.  I'm not saying "All is well", but I'd still rather be three games up than three games back.

Record:  The Twins are 77-50, in first place in the American League Central, three games ahead of Cleveland.

Projected record:  We'll just have to settle for 112-50!

2019 Recap: Game One Hundred Nineteen

MINNESOTA 7, MILWAUKEE 5 IN MILWAUKEE

Date:  Tuesday, August 13.

Batting stars:  Marwin Gonzalez was 2-for-4 with a three-run homer (his fourteenth) and two runs.  Eddie Rosario was 2-for-4 with a double, a walk, and two runs.  Mitch Garver was 1-for-5 with a two-run homer, his twenty-second.

Pitching stars:  Martin Perez pitched six innings, giving up an unearned run on six hits and four walks and striking out three.  Tyler Duffey pitched a scoreless inning, giving up a hit and a walk and striking out one.  Sam Dyson pitched a perfect inning and struck out one.  Sergio Romo pitched a scoreless inning.

Opposition stars:  Yasmani Grandal was 2-for-4 with a three-run homer (his twentieth) and a walk.  Manny Pina was 2-for-4 with a double and a hit-by-pitch.  Keston Hiura was 2-for-4 with a walk.

The game:  Each team missed chances early.  The Brewers had men on first and third in each of the first two innings and did not score.  The Twins put men on first and second with one out in the second and did not score.  In the third, however, Max Kepler led off with a walk and Garver followed with a two-run homer.  With one out, Rosario walked, went to third on a Miguel Sano single, and scored on a ground out to put the Twins up 3-0.

Milwaukee again put two men on in the third and did not score.  They got on the board in the fourth, though.  Hernan Perez got a one-out single.  Chase Anderson's bunt should have resulted in an inning-ending double play, but an error instead put men on first and third with one out.  A force out brought home a run, cutting the lead to 3-1.  The Brewers again missed a chance in the fifth, as they failed to do anything with a leadoff double.

The Twins got an insurance run in the seventh, as Gonzalez singled, went to second on a wild pitch, and scored on Ehire Adrianza's pinch-hit double.  It was 4-1 and looking good for the visitors.  In the bottom of the seventh, however, Hiura led off with a single and scored on a Christian Yelich double.  Catcher's interference put men on first and second and Grandal delivered a three-run homer, giving Milwaukee its first lead at 5-4.  Suddenly, things weren't looking so good for the visitors after all.

But the Twins would not be denied.  Rosario led off the eighth with a double and Sano walked.  The next two batters went out, but Gonzalez came through with a three-run homer for the Twins, putting them up 7-5.  Dyson and Romo came in to slam the door and make it a Minnesota victory.

WP:  Duffey (2-1).  LP:  Drew Pomeranz (2-10).  S:  Romo (19).

Notes:  It remained Kepler in center and Gonzalez in right, with Byron Buxton remaining out.

Luis Arraez was 1-for-3 with a walk and is batting .350.

Perez got through six innings and gave up just an unearned run.  It wasn't pretty, as the Brewers had a threat in pretty much every inning.  For the game, Milwaukee stranded twelve runners and went 1-for-12 with men in scoring position.  It's hard to tell whether Perez actually pitched better or just got lucky.  Whatever it was, though, we'll take it.

It may well be that this is well-known and I just missed it (I went to bed before the ninth), but I don't know why Romo was used to close the game rather than Taylor Rogers.  I saw a game story that said Rogers was "apparently unavailable", but it didn't say why.  It worked out, but the Twins definitely need a healthy Taylor Rogers coming down the stretch.

This felt like a really big win for the Twins.  Yes, momentum is as good as the next day's starting pitcher, and if the Twins go on to lose five of the next six this game won't mean much of anything.  But when the Twins lost the lead in the seventh, a lot of people (including me) thought, "Here we go again".  Another winnable game lost.  Another game blown by the bullpen.  Couple that with Cleveland appearing to come back on Boston, and it looked like the Twins would lose yet another game in the standings.  Instead, they gained a game and find themselves back in first place.  Time will tell how big this game actually was, but it feels pretty big right now.

Record:  The Twins are 72-47, first in the American League Central, a half game ahead of Cleveland.

Projected record:  We're still on track for 115-47!

2019 Recap: Game Ninety-two

CLEVELAND 4, MINNESOTA 3 IN CLEVELAND

Date:  Sunday, July 14.

Batting star:  Marwin Gonzalez was 3-for-4 with a double.

Pitching stars:  Zack Littell pitched a perfect inning.  Tyler Duffey pitched a perfect inning and struck out one.

Opposition stars:  Tyler Naquin was 2-for-3 with a double.  Carlos Santana was 1-for-2 with a home run (his twenty-first), two walks, and two runs.  Shane Bieber struck out nine in 6.1 innings, giving up three runs on five hits and one walk.

The game:  Jose Berrios retired the first two Indians in the bottom of the first, but walks to Santana and Bobby Bradley were followed by a Jose Ramirez double, putting Cleveland ahead 1-0.  In the fourth, Jake Bowers led off with a double and scored on a Greg Allen single.  Allen went to second on a ground out and scored on Naquin's single, putting the Indians up 3-0.

It stayed 3-0 until the seventh.  Luis Arraez led off with a walk and Mitch Garver was hit by a pitch.  Singles by Gonzalez and Miguel Sano made the score 3-1 with the bases loaded.  Jake Cave was hit by a pitch to cut the lead to 3-2.  With one out, Max Kepler singled to tie it 3-3.  The bases were still loaded with one out, but a pair of strikeouts ended the inning.

It didn't stay tied long.  With two out in the bottom of the seventh, Santana homered to put Cleveland back in front at 4-3.  And that's where it stayed.  Arraez had a leadoff double in the eighth and an error started the ninth, but the Twins could not score again.

WP:  Adam Cimber (5-2).  LP:  Trevor May (3-2).  S:  Brad Hand (24).

Notes:  Arraez was at third base and Sano at first with C. J. Cron out.  Gonzalez was in left with Eddie Rosario out.  Kepler was in center and Cave in right with Byron Buxton out.

Arraez was 1-for-3 with a walk and is batting .385.  Jorge Polanco was 0-for-5 and is batting .311.

Arraez now has ninety-six major league at-bats.  I wonder what the record is for highest batting average in your first one hundred at-bats.

Littell has not allowed a run since the debacle in Tampa Bay on May 30, in which he gave up eight runs in 4.1 innings.  Those eight runs are the only runs he's given up in the major leagues this season.  His season ERA doesn't look very good because of that, but in fact he has gone eight consecutive appearances (nine innings) with out giving up a run and is unscored upon in nine of his ten appearances this season.

This felt like a winnable game that the Twins let slip away.  In fact, it seems like a lot of the Twins losses have been winnable games that the let slip away.  You never like to lose a game you could've won, but there's an upside to it.  There have not been that many games where the Twins got blown out this year.  Most of their losses have been games that they could've won with a few breaks or with a key hit at the right time.  It seems to me that this, too, is the sign of a good team--that the games you lost are games you could have won.

We'd love to have had the sweep, but as many pointed out, taking two out of three from the Indians in Cleveland is still pretty good.  Some of us were worried that the margin might be down to 2.5 after this series--instead it's 6.5.  We'll take it.

Record:  The Twins are 58-34, first in the American League Central, 6.5 games ahead of Cleveland.

Projected record:  We'll just have to settle for 128-34!

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-eight

MINNESOTA 9, TAMPA BAY 4 IN MINNESOTA

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!

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-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!