The Twins won tonight. There are plenty of negative takeaways from today’s game, but sometimes you’ve got to win ugly and the Twins did just that tonight.
That’s what I was going to write had the Twins actually won. Instead, as usual, reality is much worse for Minnesota fans.
Carlos Correa could have been the star tonight, mashing two solo home runs in his first two at-bats to gave the Twins an early-game lead. Ryan Jeffers also continued to contribute, knocking in Gio Urshela on two separate occasions- one on a double, one on a bunt single (wow).
Cleveland was not going to lay down and lose tonight, however; especially not against the Twins’ pen with Jhoan Duran and Griffin Jax (presumably, more on that later) unavailable.
Sonny Gray was more cloudy tonight, giving up 4 runs (3 earned) in 4.0 innings of work. He did start the fifth inning, but was pulled after giving up two runs before recording an out. Caleb Thielbar allowed a third run to score on a balk (yeah, seriously) after coming in for relief, but settled down to pitch 1.1 innings without allowing another run to cross.
With the game tightened up to 5-4 in favor of the home team, Max Kepler went yard to tack on another run. Joe Smith was next up to pitch for the Twins, and did his job (barely), wiggling out of a jam after a hit and a walk to finish a clean 6th inning. Unfortunately, the Twins went down quietly in the bottom of the inning, and then Cleveland had the good fortune to hit off of Jharel Cotton in the 7th.
Cotton, pitching in high-ish leverage after being DFA’ed TWICE earlier this season, gave up home runs to two noted power hitters to allow Cleveland to take the lead. Amed Rosario (2 HR on the year now) and Oscar Gonzalez (also 2 HR on the year now) smacked a solo shot and a 2-run homer, respectively, to cause Twins fans everywhere much wailing and gnashing of teeth.
However, the Twins would strike back tonight. With two outs and none on in the bottom of the 7th, Max Kepler walked to get a rally started. A rare Gary Sanchez single followed, sending Kepler to third. Recent call-up Alex Kirilloff found a hole in the left side to knock in the tying run, and then Minnesota clutch folk hero Gio Urshela followed with a two-strike three-run bomb to put the good guys ahead for good.
Emilio Pagan bounced back from his poor showing yesterday to strike out the side in the 8th. However, Rocco riskily trotted him back out for the 9th after the Twins went down quietly (but with some controversy on a “caught” fly ball), and he gave up two singles to lead off the inning. With slugger Josh Naylor up, Pagan gave up an RBI double that put runners on 2nd and 3rd with no outs and the score now 10-8.
Griffin Jax, presumed to be unavailable after pitching on no days’ rest after throwing 27 pitches last night, entered to try and put out the fire. This game could become a referendum about Rocco’s bullpen management, but really I think it shows just how little he has to work with aside from Duran.
It didn’t work. Oscar Gonzalez fought off an 0-2 pitch for another single, bringing in two runs to tie it up. A sac bunt moved Gonzalez to third, and then he scored on a sac fly on the very next pitch. The half-inning mercifully ended on the next pitch.
Now down one, the Twins had to face formidable closer Emmanuel Clase. Carlos Correa went down on three pitches. Max Kepler at least got into a 1-0 count before grounding out. Gary Sanchez went down without a whimper to end the game.
This was one of the most depressing games I’ve ever recapped, and one of the more depressing games I can remember. This team will not make the playoffs unless serious moves are made to patch up a bullpen that has 2 trustworthy pitchers and 4 who surprise you when they give up less than 3 runs. It’s frankly an embarrassment and a slap in the face to all of Twins Territory that Falvey and Levine continue to do nothing but sign bargain-bin junk-ballers to fill the bullpen year after year. This (earlier today) “first-place” team is nothing but a bunch of pretenders and will be lucky to hit 80 wins if they don’t do something about this abomination of a relief corps soon. It can’t wait for the deadline- this team will be in the third place in a blink of the eye with the way Cleveland is playing and Chicago can play if they keep losing games where the offense puts up runs enough to win.
Sorry, I’m down bad and the takes are flying. Now, I intended to write a positive paragraph here, but it turns out I don’t have anything positive to say. We play again tomorrow, so theoretically things could go better? We did score 10 runs, so we’ve got that going for us. October baseball can be awfully chilly in Minneapolis, anyway. At least this won’t get as much attention as it did when the Timberwolves did basically the same thing a couple months ago.
I am not in a headspace to hand out awards right now. Props to the offense I guess.
Falvey, Levine, Emilio Pagan, Jharel Cotton, the Pohlad family, and my parents for raising me to be a Twins fan
mefoolonhill sums it up best for me right now:
“I worry about the long-term psychological damage we are suffering in this series.”