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Twins Bullpen Crumbles on Night Kimbrel Signs With Cubs; CLE 9, MIN 7

Of course this would happen.

On the day Craig Kimbrel reportedly reached an agreement to sign with the Cubs, the Twins bullpen blows a two-run lead in the seventh inning. This is pretty much the most Minnesota Sports way this day could have possibly gone.

Minnesota Twins v Cleveland Indians

Box Score

Perez: 4.2 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 60.9% strikes (56 of 92 pitches)

Home Runs: Buxton (7), Cruz (8), Polanco (10)

Multi-Hit Games: Polanco (2-for-4, HR)

WPA of +0.1: Buxton .191, Polanco .156

WPA of -0.1: Sano -.137, Perez -.218, Parker -.500

(chart via FanGraphs)

The Twins held a 6-5 lead through six innings, but rain caused this game to be delayed more than an hour and a half. The Twins scratched across an insurance run once play resumed, but Blake Parker was ready to play his role in throwing gasoline on what was already a hot talking point across Twins Territory.

I don’t know that you’ll find a Twins fan or baseball analyst who believes the Twins bullpen is fine as it’s currently constructed. So for Kimbrel to sign and Parker to give up three runs to blow the lead within a matter of hours is only going to increase the attention paid to that storyline.

Parker gave up a two-run homer to Jordan Luplow and a solo shot to Roberto Perez. Just for good measure, Tyler Duffey gave up a solo homer to Francisco Lindor in the eighth.

It’s worth mentioning that the Twins came into tonight 34-2 when holding a lead entering the seventh inning. Things like this haven’t happened all that often this year, it’s just that we’ve all been expecting doom for so long that it feels like they have.

Perez Struggles Again

Martin Perez entered this start having posted a 5.59 ERA over his previous four outings. His last time out against Tampa Bay was particularly ugly, as he gave up six earned runs in 2 2/3 innings.

Perez opened his evening by walking the leadoff man, Francisco Lindor, on four pitches. The Twins lineup was making noise again tonight, creating plenty of breathing room, but Perez wasn’t sharp once again tonight.

There were a few bad-luck, seeing-eye singles mixed in, but Perez struggled to find the strike zone. When he did, he didn’t miss many bats. He threw only 60.9 percent of his pitches for strikes and got just four swinging strikes on his 92 pitches. That’s the fewest swings and misses he’s had in an outing this season, which is particularly striking because he had four appearances of fewer than four innings coming into tonight (he started the year in the bullpen, remember?).

It was a bit of a sloppy game for the Twins. Perez and Jason Castro had some troubles, accounting for both a wild pitch and a passed ball. Also, Miguel Sano committed his second error of the season. Only two of the five runs Perez gave up were earned. Still, he was given a 5-1 lead at one point and could not seal the deal.

Cleveland Pen Battles Through Trying Times

This appeared to be a tough matchup for Cleveland from the get-go. Carlos Carrasco was placed in the IL due to a blood condition, resulting in the team being forced to go with a bullpen game.

As if that wasn’t a challenge enough, I imagine the rain delay didn’t help things. They used seven pitchers tonight. Momentum isn’t something that can be quantified, but for Cleveland to win this game under these circumstances has to have injected some swagger into that clubhouse.

The Good Stuff

It wasn’t all bad. The Twins lineup was out there hitting bombas again. Byron Buxton absolutely obliterated an 0-2 pitch for a three-run homer.

The lineup also combined to go 3-for-6 with runners in scoring position and five of the Twins’ run were scored with two outs.

Trevor May made things interesting in the sixth, but he got out of it unscathed and struck out a pair of batters. He was averaging 96.1 mph with his four seamer tonight. He had been sitting at 94.8 mph with that pitch coming into this evening.

But who am I kidding? You’re a Minnesota sports fan. You’re only here to cry in your beer (or coffee, depending on when you’re reading this) and lament about not being able to have nice things. That’s OK, we’re all here for you, lol.

Postgame With Baldelli

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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