Where is bottom? Just when things seem like they’re at their worst, here comes another kick to the gut. Max Kepler dropped a routine fly ball in the ninth inning of a tie game, putting a painful end on a day the Twins did nothing at the trade deadline.
The first four hitters in the Twins’ lineup combined to go 0-for-16 with eight strikeouts and a pair of walks. Jorge Polanco had three strikeouts for the first time this year. Nelson Cruz also had three strikeouts. After recording just one three-strikeout game last season, Cruz has now done that twice in his last six contests.
White Sox Gift Twins Runs
Chicago is highly regarded in most defensive metrics, but they had a rough second inning tonight. The Twins scored three runs despite recording just two hits that inning, taking advantage of errors committed by right fielder Adam Engel and second baseman Nick Madrigal. They were unable to tack on after a third miscue by Lucas Giolito.
The Madrigal misplay was especially damaging.
Twins Return Favor
The Twins were too polite to accept those gifts and not give the White Sox something nice in return.
The Twins’ infield nearly fell into a triple play, but botched the execution. But, the only reason the opportunity was there was because a catch was botched. So a botch that followed a botch would be a … did I just finally figure out what a Boof is?
Anyway, here’s the play below. Arráez was trying to catch this ball, missed it, then the Twins infield missed the chance to take advantage of the confusion. Just one out was recorded on this play. Chicago would score two runs this inning.
Max Kepler also just straight up dropped a routine flyball in the top of the ninth inning that eventually resulted in the go-ahead run scoring. Max Kepler! One of the most reliable, smoothest defensive outfielders you’re ever going to find.
What is happening here!? Tonight we definitely learned that, no, cardboard cutouts cannot boo, and there’s apparently no booing programmed into Target Field’s sound system
Concern Over Hill’s Control
The bases were loaded to setup that weird missed triple play opportunity because Rich Hill walked the first four batters of that inning.
In his four seasons with the Dodgers, Hill posted a 7.7 BB%. So far this year, he’s walked 14.7% of the batters he’s faced. Hill threw 41 of his 65 pitches for strikes tonight, a 63.1% strike rate. That actually was an improvement on his season average, which is now 62.5%. His strike rate over his time with the Dodgers was 67.9%.
Tyler Duffey, the first man out of the bullpen, also struggled to throw strikes. After walking just two of the first 47 men he faced in 2020, Duffey issued a pair of free passes to the seven batters he faced tonight. Luckily, he got away with it.
Tyler Clippard gave up back-to-back singles to open the sixth inning, but then retired the next two batters. With José Abreu at the plate, Clippard threw a wild pitch to allow both runners to advance. The count was 1-1 at that point, and the Twins decided to pitch to Abreu with first base open.
Abreu entered tonight 0-for-5 with four strikeouts against Clippard over his career, but he’s having the type of season where stats like that are changing quickly. He entered tonight with a .996 OPS, which would represent a new career high. Abreu worked a full count, then delivered a game-tying two-run double.
Trevor May had to bail out Clippard in the sixth inning, then came back out to handle the seventh. He’s not had much success in outings that spanned multiple frames so far this season. Tonight was the third time he’s done it, and all three times he’s given up a home run after returning from the dugout. Tonight it was Luis Robert who got him.
When pitching in a single frame, May has surrendered just two earned runs over 10 2/3 innings pitched. He’s now given up five earned runs in 3 1/3 innings otherwise.
Sergio Romo pitched a perfect eighth inning before Taylor Rogers had a rough ninth, no thanks to Kepler’s error. All three runs Rogers gave up were unearned, but he’s already given up half as many runs (overall runs scored, not earned runs) as he did in all of 2019.
Jake Cave had a go-ahead single with two outs in the sixth inning and made an impressive catch in center field to prevent a run from scoring.