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MIN 3, LAA 1: Pitching Great, Sano Homers Late from @TwinsDaily

Jake Odorizzi had a scoreless outing for the fourth time in his last five starts, Miguel Sano hit a go-ahead home run in the top of the eighth inning and the Twins won the first game of their series against the Angles. Come check out what else happened Monday evening.

Minnesota Twins v Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Box Score

Odorizzi: 5.0 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, 63.3% strikes (57 of 90 pitches)

Home Runs: Sano (2)

Multi-Hit Games: Arraez (3-for-4), Kepler (2-for-4, BB)

WPA of +0.1: Odorizzi .297, Sano .295

WPA of -0.1: None

(chart via FanGraphs)

It was a pitchers duel tonight in Anaheim as the Minnesota Twins faced off against the Los Angeles Angels for the second time in a week. However, only one team sent out a starting pitch in the first inning.

The Angels did something we saw from them in game two of last series, and something that was started by the Tampa Bay Rays last season. It’s the same thing as what a closer does, but they actually open up the game with it. Instead of having a conventional starter, you put in a pitcher hoping for 1-2 innings to start the game and Taylor Cole was put into that role today.

Cole pitched one inning before Felix Pena came in to finish up the starter's job. He went for five innings and they finished a combined six innings giving up six hits, one run, one walk, and three strikeouts.

Another Solid Start

Jake Odorizzi was the starter for the series opener, and came into the game looking for his seventh straight win. His pitching set him up for that, however the bats didn’t help. Odorizzi pitched five shutout innings, giving up three hits, two walks, while striking out six. After three straight starts of going at least six innings, his last two have failed to go over 5 1/3 innings.

His pitch count was at 90 at the end of the fifth, but he would have been facing the heart of the Angels lineup in a one-run game. A big part of his pitch count came in an at-bat in the fourth against Lucroy who fouled off seven pitches in a 12-pitch at-bat before lining out to end the inning. Odorizzi has got his ERA down to 2.38 but was unable to continue his win streak.

Even though he had a shorter start and didn’t pick up the win, he still had a great outing and set the Twins up for success.

Quiet Offense

It was another slow day for the Twins offensively as they have now had 17 hits in the past two games, with 16 of them being singles. Last night the Twins had seven hits and seven singles and tonight they had ten hits and nine were singles.

Luis Arraez has been great in his first three games of his career, getting a hit in each game. He continued his early success, adding three more hits and another run tonight. This isn’t unlikely of him either, the 22-year-old is a two-time minor league batting champion.

Max Kepler added two hits of his own from the leadoff spot, but the Twins couldn’t really get much going after the second inning until the eighth. Miguel Sano came up with a huge two-run homer in the top of the eighth for his second of the season to put the Twins back in front 3-1 late in the game.

Bullpen's Work

Ryne Harper came in right after Odorizzi exited the game and had a solid 1 1/3 innings in relief with two strikeouts. He made quick work in his first inning, but gave up a hit after he retired his first batter of the seventh. He was charged with a run as Goodwin came around to score later in that inning.

Taylor Rogers came in to try and finish up the seventh, but saw Albert Pujols, who he walked, as a pinch hitter. Rogers was a little off tonight as his last appearance was six days ago against the Angels. He gave up a two-out, 0-2 count, hit to La Stella to allow the Angels to tie the game in the seventh. He was able to strike out the next batter, Mike Trout, looking, to end the inning.

Rogers was able to come back out and have a great eighth inning, though two Angels were injured during the inning. The first happened on a strike three when Shohei Ohtani checked his swing but ended up getting hit on the hand leading to a strike. The next injury happened to the next batter, Andrelton Simmons, on a bang-bang play at first as Simmons tried to extend his stride to reach first base.

Blake Parker came in to close out the ninth and try to pick up his eighth save of the year against his former team. He faced four batters but it was never a worry as he got two ground outs to close out the game. The Twins improve to 31-16 on the season and continue to stay hot following a loss moving to 16-3 after a loss.

Postgame With Arraez

Bullpen Usage

Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days:

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