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MIN 3, CLE 2: Bullpen Bends, Does Not Break | KFAN 100.3 FM

The Twins relief corps was in a tough spot after Sunday’s bullpen game, but they came right back to hold a lead over the final four innings Monday night. Caleb Thielbar, Trevor May, Sergio Romo and Taylor Rogers combined to give up seven hits, but executed when they had to, surrendering just one run.

Box Score

Maeda: 5.0 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 7 K

Home Runs: Cruz (11), Sanó (6)

Top 3 WPA: Rogers .234, Maeda .193, Romo .157

Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs):

Kenta Maeda continues to look like the Minnesota Twins staff ace as Miguel Sano shows us once again that his early season slump is over. Maeda didn’t have to pitch with the pressure of a potential no-hitter as the Indians were the ones to strike first with a first inning home run by Cesar Hernandez.

That didn’t stop Maeda from having another very good outing. He would go 5 innings in Monday night’s game and throw 83 pitches, but still was able to set the Twins up for success. The righty struck out seven batters while only allowing a single walk before turning the game over to the bullpen.

The Twins offense had the challenge of facing off against Aaron Civale who came into the game having only issued three walks all season long. While Civale still limited walks issuing only one more and striking out eight Twins batters, the Twins were still able to get to him for two home runs.

Those home runs came off the bats of none other than the duo of Sano and Nelson Cruz. Cruz tied the game up in the fourth inning with a solo shot. In the sixth inning, Sano put the Twins up by two by driving Eddie Rosario home on an opposite field shot that landed in a similar place to Cruz’s earlier in the game.

This was a game where it certainly felt like the Twins were playing with fire most of the later innings. The pitching staff allowed 11 hits and each reliever besides Rogers had to reach back and fight their own little fire with a strikeout to get out of innings without giving up a run, or in the case of May any more runs. Certainly we would like to see some clean shutdown innings from the Twins bullpen, but they got the job done and that is what matters.

In the ninth inning, all eyes shifted to Taylor Rogers as he was called on to get the save after a recent stretch struggling to be the shutdown closer we have become accustomed to. Rogers was able to redeem himself as he closed out the game against the top of the Indians lineup. He did allow a Francisco Lindor single, but struck out one and forced two pop ups to get the Twins the win.

Tonight lands the Twins at the halfway point of their shortened 2020 season. The team sits at 20-10 and 2.5 games up of Clevaland and Chicago who are tied for second in the Central division. It seems strange that we would critique this team too much, but there are still concerns surrounding the Twins offense.

Maybe it is just because we were so spoiled by 2019, but it feels like another game that was simply fueled by Cruz and Sano. Even though seven of the nine spots of the Twins produced hits leaving Marwin Gonzalez, Alex Avila, and Ehire Adrianza being the Twins not recording a hit. It is also important to remember that the Twins are playing a lot of bench players with the injuries they are dealing with.

It doesn’t get any easier for the bats tomorrow night as the Twins get to shift their attention to Shane Bieber. The Twins will counter with Rich Hill who will look to rebound after a rough start his last time out.

Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet

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