On a night when the offense couldn’t catch a break the Twins were, somewhat surprisingly, carried by Martin Perez and the Polanco-less defense. Perez outshines Eovaldi, the defense saves the day, and the Twins win the rubber match 2-1 over the Red Sox.
Perez: 6.0 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 70.0% strikes (49 of 70 pitches)
Bullpen: 3.0 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K
Home Runs: None
Multi-Hit Games: None
Top 3 WPA: Perez (.242), Rogers (.226), Duffey (.151)
Bottom 3 WPA: Cruz (-.172), Cron (-.161), Kepler (-.152)
Martin Perez starts strong in September, Bullpen holds the lead
Hopefully tonight was a sign of things to come for Perez. Through four innings Perez had a strike percentage of 82 percent and had induced just three hard hits as defined by Baseball Savant. If it wasn’t for a fluke home run by Mookie Betts, which had an xBA of .250, he would have pitched four perfect innings using fewer than than 40 pitches. Things started to unravel a bit in sixth inning when Perez lost control of the strike zone, allowed a rocket double to Betts off the Green Monster, followed by a Bogaerts walk and an errant pick-off attempt before escaping the inning without giving up a run. After just 70 pitches and six innings from Perez, the bullpen took over. As has been the case since the All-Star break, the bullpen was dominant, sending May and Duffey to shut down the seventh and eighth, respectively, followed by Romo and Rogers teaming up to close out the ninth.
Despite good contact, offense does just enough to reward Perez
Throughout the evening the Twins expected batting average was hovering right around the .300 mark, per Baseball Savant, but ultimately ended the night batting .077. That should tell you how well they actually hit the ball tonight but were just the victims of some bad luck. Loading the bases twice resulted in just two runs and they hit into four double plays, their seventh in the last two games, despite Cron’s batted balls having an xBA of .550 and .480. Per BaseballReference, this was the fourth time in Twins history and 11th time in franchise history they won a game with only two hits and zero homeruns.
Defense picks up offense, for a change
It’s no secret that the defense has been struggling for a while after looking great at the beginning of the year. Outside of the errant throw from Perez, which did not lead to a run, the Twins defense shined in a game the offense needed the “pick me up”. In the second and third innings, Sano made two plays at third base that could have easily been hits. Cron made a nice diving play on a ball that was awkwardly hit just short of first base and barely in foul territory. Jake Cave robbed an extra-base hit from Chirstian Vazquez in the seventh which had a catch probability of 25 percent, per the FSN broadcast. Everything was capped off on the final play of the game when Eddie Rosario threw out Rafael Devers, the tying run, after Martinez hit a ball high off the Green Monster.