The American League leader in ERA, Jake Odorizzi, was at it again today, only this time he was facing his former team. Odorizzi, who spent five years pitching in Tampa, helped pitch the Twins to victory by providing a quality start in his first start back at the Trop.
Odorizzi: 6.0 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 9 K, 68.5% strikes (74 of 108 pitches)
Home Runs: Schoop (11)
Multi-Hit Games: Sano (3-for-3, 2 2B, BB), Polanco (2-for-4), Cron (2-for-4, 2B), Buxton (2-for-4, 2B)
WPA of +0.1: Odorizzi .220, Buxton .134, Sano .133, Garver .119
WPA of -0.1: Harper -.116
(chart via FanGraphs)
Quality Start for Odorizzi
Odorizzi looked great today even though his pitch count was a bit high. He ended up with six strong innings and averaged 18 pitches per inning for a total of 108 pitches. For reference, an average of 15 or less per inning is ideal. This was his third start with at least nine strikeouts this season.
Mitch Garver, aka Garv Sauce, was back in the lineup today for the first time since suffering a high ankle sprain on May 14. He got an early test on his sprained ankle when he led off the game with a soft ground ball hit to the infield. Garver appeared to be fully recovered as he sprinted down the line and was safe thanks to an error by the third baseman.
We didn’t have to wait very long for Mitch to impact the game with his bat the way he was doing so consistently before the injury. In his second at-bat there were runners on second and third with one out. Mitch laced an RBI single to left, scoring Miguel Sano from third. Hitting the ball is generally a good thing but in this case the ball was too hard and Byron Buxton was unable to score. Luckily for the Twins, they had the league's best hitter in Jorge Polanco up next and he drove in Buxton with a sac fly, giving the Twins an early 2-0 lead.
26 and Counting
Entering today’s contest, the Twins had set a franchise record for 25 consecutive games scoring at least three runs. In the fourth inning they made it 26 consecutive games. Sano hit a double to left field scoring Marwin Gonzalez. It could have been a better inning had Sano not been thrown out trying to advance to third.
Feeling Like a Million Bux
Byron Buxton continues to emerge as the superstar he was projected to be while rising through the minor league system. His elite defense and improved hitting impacted the game early on.
In the third inning he hit an opposite field double which advanced Sano to third and set the table for Garver and Polanco to drive in the first two runs of the game. In the bottom of the same inning he once again reminded us how elite he is in center field — not that any of us needed reminding, however.
With a runner on first and one out in the inning Buxton made a spectacular catch sprinting full speed and crashing into the wall. He quickly spun around and fired a 97 mph strike the length of a football field to double up the runner at first and end the inning.
Scoring Runs is Contagious
The top of the fifth inning was yet another strong inning for the Twins offense. Buxton got it started when he singled, stole second and advanced to third on a throwing error from the Rays first baseman. He later scored on a squeeze bunt from Polanco giving the Twins a 3-0 lead.
The Twins would then load up the bases when Garver was hit by a pitch and Rosario drew a walk. There were ducks on the pond when C.J. Cron stepped up to hit with the bases loaded and two outs. Cron got a pitch to hit and did just that when he roped a bases-clearing double to left field and broke the game open, giving the Twins a 7-0 lead.
Jonathan Schoop provided two very key insurance runs in the eight when he blasted a two-out, two-run home run to left field giving the Twins a 9-5 lead.
The game was turned over to the bullpen with a seven run lead but that changed quickly. Matt Magill loaded the bases and the Rays went on to score five runs in the seventh. They tacked on another two runs in the eight with a two-run home run off Blake Parker.
Postgame With Garver
Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days:
Tue at CLE, 6:10 pm CT (Smeltzer-Bieber)