The Minnesota Twins were riding off their series victory over the Cleveland Indians to begin the second half over the weekend. Tonight, they welcomed the New York Mets for a two-game series to begin a nine-game home stand. Despite getting a quality start from Michael Pineda, the Twins came up just short in this hard-fought battle.
Pineda: 6 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 65.8% strikes (50 of 76 pitches)
Home Runs: Schoop (15)
Multi-Hit Games: Gonzalez (2 for 5); Rosario (2 for 4); Cron (2 for 4, 2 2B)
WPA of +0.1: None
WPA of -0.1: Cruz -.367; Sano -.175; Polanco -.167; Kepler -.134
(Chart via Fangraphs)
The Mets got off to quick start in the top of the first to begin this short two-game series when outfielders Jeff McNeil and Michael Conforto got a couple of singles to lead off the inning. Michael Pineda was able to battle back by striking out Home Run Derby champion Pete Alonso. Then after a wild pitch, Robinson Cano hit a short fly ball to center field setting up Max Kepler for a chance to throw McNeil out at home, but a misfire out of his hand didn’t give the throw a chance. The inning about came to an end with just one run allowed, but Jonathan Schoop booted a groundball off the bat of Wilson Ramos, allowing Conforto to score the second run of the inning.
The early innings were filled with a bunch of tough luck outs for the Twins hitters. In the first inning Jorge Polanco had a bid for a leadoff single, but it was snared out of the air by Mets second baseman Robinson Cano. Per Statcast, Polanco’s lineout had an expected batting average of .890. In the second inning, both Eddie Rosario and Max Kepler also had bids for a hit but were denied. The expected batting average on their two lineouts were .640 and .550 respectively.
The Twins were final able to get a run on the scoreboard when Jonathan Schoop led off the inning with a solo home run to right-center field. With two-outs in the inning, the Twins put together a good chance to score but came up short when Mets center-fielder Michel Conforto made a great catch at the wall to rob Nelson Cruz of what would have been a game-tying double. Again, some misfortune for a Twins hitter, as the expected batting average on this Cruz flyout was .760.
Eddie Rosario and C.J. Cron got a rally started in the fourth when they went single, double to begin the inning. Max Kepler then came through with an RBI-groundout to tie the game, and advance Cron to third with just one out. A Miguel Sano strikeout and Jonathan Schoop intentional-walk put runners on the corners with two outs for Jason Castro. Inexplicably, however, Castro wasn’t given the opportunity to drive in the go-ahead run as a botched double steal attempt ended the inning.
The Mets were able to take the lead back in the top of the fifth, when Amed Rosario scored from third on a two-out base-hit from Michael Conforto. Rosario got on base with a one out double, and advanced to third thanks to a wild pitch from Michael Pineda in the next at-bat.
It was more tough luck for the Twins in the bottom of the fifth. Robert Gsellman came into the game to replace Steven Matz to begin the inning and immediately walked Jason Castro and hit Jorge Polanco. Marwin Gonzalez then appeared to come up with a big line drive base-hit, but unfortunately it was lined right at Mets first baseman Pete Alonso who immediately doubled-off Jorge Polanco, effectively ending the Twins threat before it even started.
Blake Parker worked himself into a bit of a jam in the top of the eighth but got out of it on this conventional 1-5-2-5 double-play to keep it a one run game.
Things got very interesting in the bottom of the ninth inning. Against Mets closer Edwin Diaz, Miguel Sano struck out looking to lead off the inning, but took two strike calls, including strike three, that appeared to be outside the strike zone. Jonathan Schoop then came up and got into a quick 0-2 hole, before leaving with an apparent injury. Luis Arraez then came into a very difficult situation and fought all the way back to draw a one-out walk, fouling off numerous 98 MPH+ fastballs in the process. Mitch Garver, who pinch hit for Jason Castro in the seventh, lined a base hit to left field, giving the Twins first and second with just one out. After Garver it was Jorge Polanco’s turn, but he flew out to center field, and failed to advance the runners. Then Marwin Gonzalez came up and kept the game alive with a weak dribbler up the third baseline, resulting in an infield single, keeping the game alive for Nelson Cruz. Cruz put together a great at-bat against Diaz, bringing the count full, but swung at what would have been ball four and popped up in foul territory to end the ballgame.
Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet
Click here for a review of the number of pitches thrown by each member of the bullpen over the past five days.
Next Three Games
Wed vs NYM, 12:10 pm CT (Vargas-Perez)
Thu vs OAK, 7:10 pm CT (TBD-TBD)
Fri vs OAK, 7:10 pm CT (TBD-TBD)