It seemed as though the Twins were sailing, on their way to their first series sweep since late May. They had a 4-1 lead entering the bottom of the ninth, with freshly acquired Sam Dyson coming onto the mound for what appeared was going to be an easy save against one of the worst hitting teams in the major leagues. That wasn’t the case, and when all was said and done, it was the Marlins who walked away with the victory.
Image courtesy of Fangraphs
Pineda: 6.0 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 72.5% strikes (58 of 80 pitches)
Home Runs: Kepler (30)
Multi-Hit Games: Kepler (2 for 6, HR), Buxton (2 for 5)
WPA of +0.1: Buxton .249, Pineda .175, Harper .123,
WPA of -0.1: Dyson -.448, -.254,
Max Kepler gave the Twins a quick 1-0 lead, blasting the fourth pitch of the game over the fence in right field. It was already Kepler’s 30th home run of the season, 10 more than his previous career high he set last year
The Marlins were able to get that run back thanks to an RBI-triple from Miami outfielder Harold Ramirez. Byron Buxton gave it his best effort tracking the ball down in the right-centerfield gap, but it was just out of his reach. Michael Pineda did do a good job of preventing the Marlins from adding any more runs, as he got Cesar Puello to strike out, followed by an intentional walk of Bryan Holaday, to bring up Marlins pitcher Jordan Yamamoto, who Pineda got to ground out to end the inning.
The Twins used some clever managing to help them put up a crooked inning in the top of the fourth. Eddie Rosario led off the inning with a strikeout, before Miguel Sano lined a double to left-field. That was followed by a Jason Castro strikeout and an Ehrie Adrianza hit-by-pitch. Here is where the clever move by Rocco Baldelli came into play. With two-outs and two runners on base, and the pitcher’s spot on deck, this was a prime situation for the Marlins to intentionally walk Byron Buxton. However, Baldelli sent Mitch Garver into the on-deck circle to signify that he was going to hit for Michale Pineda, even though it was only the fourth inning. The strategy worked, as the Marlins decided to pitch to Buxton, who promptly pulled a double that caught the chalk down the third base line, bringing both Sano and Adrianza around to score.
Some great base running by Luis Arraez helped the Twins extend their lead in the top of the fifth. After reaching base with a one-out single, Arraez advanced to third on some gutsy base running after Jorge Polanco lined a hit to left field. Arraez then came in to score the Twins' fourth run of the game on a sac-fly from Eddie Rosario.
Michael Pineda finished off yet another quality start today, after going six-innings and giving up just the one run in the second. Dating back to the beginning of May, Pineda has a 3.48 ERA across 88 innings pitched. Over that time he has 10 quality starts, and has gone at least five innings while allowing three ER or less in 14 of those 15 starts.
Things were going as planned for the Twins through the later innings. Both Tyler Duffey and Sergio Romo worked scoreless innings, keeping the Twins lead of 4-1 heading into the bottom of the ninth. With Taylor Rogers having pitched in each of the last two ballgames, Rocco Baldelli was trying to avoid using him for the third day in a row to pick up the save. Instead, he chose to go with brand new Minnesota Twin, Sam Dyson, who had just arrived in at the ballpark about an hour or so after the game had started. Dyson came in, and proceeded to go walk, single, double, walk. Baldelli quickly got Rogers up and loose. He had to come in and protect what was now a two-run lead, with the bases loaded and nobody out. After Neil Walker singled up the middle to tie the game, Rogers was in even deeper trouble. However, Rogers did exactly what a relief ace is supposed to do and struck out the side to send the game to extra innings.
The Twins hitters went dead quiet in extra innings, as not a single batter reached base in the 10th, 11th or 12th innings. Max Kepler put up a great 14 pitch at-bat in the 12th, and hit a deep drive into corner in right, but it was not enough, as it was caught on the warning track. This inability to get some big hits in extra innings came back to bite them, as Harold Ramirez connected on a Cody Stashak fastball to lead off the bottom of 12th and just like that the game was over.
Next Three Games
Fri vs KC, 7:10 pm CT (Sparkman-Perez)
Sat vs KC, 6:10 pm CT (Duffey-Gibson)
Sun vs KC, 1:10 pm CT (Keller-Odorizzi)