For the first time this season the Twins win on a walk-off hit from (who else?) Max Kepler. It was the longest game of the season for both teams tonight and both bullpens were lights out, but one had to blow it. Kepler also hit a game-tying single in the eighth inning and a game-tying homer in the 13th.
Pineda: 6 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 73.8% strikes (59 of 80 pitches)
Bullpen: 11 IP, 12 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 12 K
Home Runs: Max Kepler (17)
Multi-Hit Games: Cron (2-5), Kepler (3-5 HR), Rosario (4-8, 3 2B), Schoop (2-7)
WPA of +0.1: Kepler .847, Littell .288, Magill .288, Duffey .288, Rosario .263, Pineda .235, Rogers .144, Parker .144
WPA of -0.1: Harper -.129, Schoop -.161, Cave -.165, Cron -.228, Garver -.240, Morin -.289, Polanco -.294, Sano -.433
(chart via FanGraphs)
After not being in the starting lineup, Kepler pitch-hit for Gonzalez in the sixth inning. He drew a walk in his first plate appearance, then came up clutch in the eighth with a two-out single to tie the game at 2-2. In the 13th inning, with the game on the line, Kepler led off the inning with a solo shot, again to tie the game.
Who better to get the first walk-off hit for the Twins than the guy who tied the game twice earlier. With one out in the 17th inning, and bases loaded, Kepler delivered for the Twins to keep the streak going without losing three games in a row.
Both bullpens did an excellent job following the starters’ strong starts. David Price gave the Sox five innings and Michael Pineda gave the Twins six innings, and each allowed just one run. The bullpens came into work after that were very good through 12 innings. Ultimately, one of them was going to blow this game though.
The Twins’ bullpen was the first one to surrender a run, and it came off a leadoff home run in the seventh. Trevor May, Taylor Rogers, Tyler Duffey, and Blake Parker were able to keep the game going into the 12th with six shutout innings giving up only four hits with seven strikeouts.
The Sox bullpen had a little more work to do, but had the same results. They gave up the tying run in the eighth inning with a pair of walks and a two-out hit. They combined for seven innings giving up only five hits and striking out 11, but gave up four walks.
Both bullpens surrendered a run in the 13th inning which kept the game going. Both runs came from a lead-off home run. For the Sox it was Mookie Betts, and for the Twins, it was Kepler.
After the 14th inning, it was back to the stalemate. In the bottom of the 15th, Velazquez gave up a lead-off double, but Rosario hit a hard line drive straight to first that ended in a double play. In the top of the 17th, Littell got out of a big jam with zero outs and a runner on third.
Pineda has faced the Red Sox 12 other times in his career and had a great outing tonight. In 12 games against the Sox, he is 5-5 and has a career 4.23 ERA and 1.2 WHIP in 66 innings. Pineda was with the Yankees for 11 of those starts and with Seattle for the other.
Coming off probably his best start of the season, Pineda followed up Berrios’ gem last night with a solid outing of his own, and arguably his best outing of the season. He faced 22 batters and got 15 first-pitch strikes. He faced the minimum number of batters in the first three innings thanks to a double play in the first. He had two double plays turned behind him tonight.
Unfortunately, the offenses failed to give these starters much aid and neither was able to pick up the win.
Here’s a great article on how Pineda has been a huge upgrade as the Twins’ fifth starter.
Postgame With Baldelli
Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days: