Things started out great for the Twins, who had the lead until the sixth inning, after yet another quality start by Martín Pérez. But terrible pitching by the bullpen and a horror show by the defense allowed the Mets to erupt late and complete the sweep of the Twins with a 14-4 blowout.
Image courtesy of FanGraphs
Pérez: 6.0 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 72.2% strikes (60 of 83 pitches)
Bullpen: 3.0 IP, 12 H, 6 ER, 1 BB, 4 K
Home Runs: Cruz (18), Garver (15)
Multi-Hit Games: Garver (2-for-3, HR)
Top 3 WPA: Garver .144, Pérez .140, Cruz .070
Bottom 3 WPA: May -.461, Magill -.139, Arraez -.105
The Twins still have never beaten the Mets at Target Field. The only other time they have visited the Twins since the ballpark debut was in 2013, when the Mets also got the sweep. The last time Minnesota has won a home game against the Mets dates back to Jun. 2004.
Of the 14 runs scored by New York in the afternoon, only half of them were earned. The Twins defense was a mess all over the place. The one error that sparkled the Mets late came off the hands of Eddie Rosario in the eighth inning. He dropped a routine fly ball that would have ended the inning with no runs scored. Instead, two runs scored on that play and the Mets went on to score four other times. Jake Cave also made a diving mistake with Ehire Adrianza pitching in the ninth.
For the first time in the season, the Twins lost three consecutive games. They now own a 58-36 record, four and a half games ahead of the Indians. If Cleveland beats Detroit later today, that advantage will drop to four games, which would be their smallest lead since May 14th.
Offense shows signs of improvement early
The Twins offense was so good and dominant in the first portion of the season that a recent drop to no lower than tenth best in several metrics was enough to cause some overreaction among fans. For the first time this year, Twins bats started to be target of criticism by a few of them. That is especially true when the subject is runners in scoring position.
Despite still being one of the best teams in the majors with RISP, the Twins productivity has fallen considerably in that area in the past month and a half. Whereas they have the sixth highest OPS with RISP overall in the season (.824), they came into this game with the ninth worst in the majors (.734) since the start of June. In last night’s game, the Twins struggled again, going 1-for-9 with RISP, with a total of ten men left on base.
Things started to change a little bit when Max Kepler doubled off Jason Vargas in the second and was scored by Miguel Sanó on a single to left a couple of batters later. The Mets responded right away, with a one-out, solo home run by Amed Rosario in the top of the third, but the tied score didn’t last long. Nelson Cruz put the Twins back on top with his 18th homer of the year, a hanging one to the corner of the left field. He continued to make Vargas pay, hitting his sixth home run against him, the most he has against any MLB pitcher.
Pérez sharp in long-awaited start
With the All-Star break, Pérez didn’t pitch for eleven days, but that wasn’t a problem at all. Very economical and with a very sharp command, Pérez cruised through the first three innings, doing so with only 30 pitches, 25 of which were strikes. He also punched out four batters and gave up the one home run to Rosario.
He started to slip a little bit in the fourth, as he loaded the bases with no outs, including a hit-by-pitch against Robinson Canó. Pete Alonso reached to lead off the inning on a throwing error by Miguel Sanó. He scored when Todd Frazier grounded into a double play later on, so the run was unearned. Pérez sort of pitched himself into another jam in the fifth, eventually allowing two runners to reach, but he got out of it. Pérez concluded his seventh quality start of the year, the first since Jun. 27th.
Be careful, the Sauce is scorching
Mitch Garver continues hot. Already leading all MLB catchers in SLG (.653), OPS (1,037) and wRC+ (168) before this game, the “GarvSauce” went deep for the 15th time in the bottom of the fifth inning to break the tie once again. He becomes the sixth Twin to reach that many home runs this season, putting Minnesota very near the MLB record for most players with at least 15 home runs in a season (nine).
He also doubled in the eighth and scored afterwards. Garver continues to have one of the best seasons by a Twins catcher in club history. He’s now got higher SLG and ISO than 2009 Joe Mauer and is on pace to surpass his 23 home runs of that season, the most by any Twins catcher in history.
Mets erupt against bullpen, sloppy defense
Pérez was pulled after the sixth inning, even with a low pitch count. Trevor May took over and just like that, the Mets offense erupted. He gave up a couple of hits to start the inning and then, on a 0-2 count, he pitched an 81mph curve that was crushed for a three-run homer, giving New York the lead back.
Things, then seemed under control in the eighth, as Matt Magill struck out two batters after giving up a leadoff walk. On a routine fly to left, Eddie Rosario made a rare mistake, dropping the ball after catching it, allowing two runs to score. Then Magill gave up three hits in a row, including an Alonso two-run bomb to the second deck, to make it 11-3. Adrianza took over the mound to finish the game and gave up three more runs in the last inning.
Postgame With Baldelli
Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet
Click here for a review of the number of pitches thrown by each member of the bullpen over the past five days.