Going into Sunday’s action, the Twins were looking to accomplish two things: Stretch their season-long win streak to six games and complete a four-game road sweep of Seattle for the first time in franchise history. Unfortunately, they were denied both and they boarded a plane to Los Angeles looking to begin a new winning streak.
Gibson: 6.0 IP, 9 H, 4 ER, 0 BB, 6 K, 64.8% strikes (59 of 91 pitches)
Home Runs: None
Multi-Hit Games: Polanco (4-for-5)
WPA of +0.1: Polanco .252
WPA of -0.1: Cron -.168, May -.171, Gibson -.301
(Chart via FanGraphs)
Buxton Hitting 9th
There is not much to gripe about when a team is playing this well. The early season success indicates Rocco Baldelli has pushed all the right buttons. However, having Buxton continue to hit ninth, especially in a matchup like today's, is perplexing.
Slightly more than a quarter of the way through the season, Buxton is leading all ninth-place hitters in hits (39) and home runs (4). Byron has also been the Twins' second-best hitter when facing left-handed pitching. Going into the game, he was hitting .400/.444/.640 with a 1.089 OPS, second only to CJ Cron, who has crushed lefties to the tune of .393/.438/.964 and a 1.402 OPS.
Those numbers alone are not indicative of a number nine hitter. It becomes even more perplexing when considering today’s lineup featured Ehire Adrianza, and Luis Arraez making his first big league start. Both of who were slotted higher than Buxton in the lineup. Byron has been enjoying the breakout season we have all been waiting for, so this very well could be a case of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Buxton went 0-for-3 with a pair of strikeouts, but also drew a walk and scored a run. There wasn't much offense to speak of for the Twins. Lead off man Jorge Polanco had four of the team's seven hits, all of which were singles.
Trading Zeros Early
While the Saturday night game featured a lot of early offense, Sunday proved to be quite the opposite. Neither team pushed a run across through the first three innings. The only real threat came in the top of the third, when the Twins had the bases loaded and two outs with C.J. Cron at the plate. He was unable to drive in a run, adding to the Twins struggles with two outs and runners in scoring position.
Offense Wakes Up
Finally, in the bottom of the fourth, the Mariners drew first blood. With back-to-back doubles from Edwin Encarnacion and Domingo Santana, they took an early 1-0 lead. Much like they have done all year, the Twins responded immediately.
Following back-to-back walks to open the fifth, Polanco dropped down a beautiful bunt and a throwing error by the pitcher allowed a run to score, tying the game at 1-1. Like we’ve come to expect, the Twins did not stop there. Buxton scored on a weak chopper back to the pitcher off the bat of Jonathan Schoop and the Twins added a third run of the inning thanks to an error by the Mariners shortstop, J.P. Crawford. Perhaps most impressively, they scored three runs in one inning without hitting a home run.
Much like they did to Berrios on Saturday, the Mariners feasted on Kyle Gibson in the fifth inning. After surrendering a leadoff double, it looked like Gibson was about to wiggle out of the jam with two quick outs. Mitch Haniger had other ideas, however, as he blasted a two-run home run to tie the game at three. The very next batter, Daniel Vogelbach, launched a solo home run, giving the Mariners a 4-3 lead.
The Mariners were able to stretch their lead to 7-3 in the bottom of the seventh. Trevor May retired the first two batters he faced, but then appeared to lose control of the zone. He issued a pair of two-out walks, fell behind Edwin Encarnacion and gave up a three-run blast.
Closing It Out
The Twins offense showed a little life in the ninth. They managed to get two runners on and a one-out single from Polanco drove in a run. With Schoop representing the tying run, he flew out to deep right field and that was the ballgame.
A sweep would have been ideal, but it’s hard to imagine anyone being upset with a 3-1 record in a four-game road series. The flight to Los Angeles will likely still be a happy one.
Postgame With Baldelli
Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days:
Next Three Games
Mon at LAA, 9:07 pm CT (Odorizzi-Pena)
Tue at LAA, 9:07 pm CT (Pineda-Cahill)
Wed at LAA, 8:07 pm CT (Perez-Harvey)
MIN 18, SEA 4: Sharks Eat Mariners