For the second time in nine days, the Twins were playing into the 17th inning. The bullpen kept giving the offense opportunities to take this game, Martin Perez had a stellar comeback after a rough second inning, and the Twins offense was lifeless after the first.
Perez: 7 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 65.7% strikes (67 of 102 pitches)
Bullpen: 11 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 5 BB, 11 K
Home Runs: None
Multi-Hit Games: Polanco (2-for-6, 2B, BB), Arraez (3-for-7)
WPA of +0.1: Duffey .111, Rogers .144, Parker .144, Littell .144, May .144, Gibson .144, Perez .261, Morin .288, Magill .288
WPA of -0.1: Cave -.139, Kepler -.276, Sano -.288, Garver -.306, Cron -.308, Schoop -.364, Harper -.455
Bullpen Hangs Tough
The bullpen had a lot of work to do in today’s game, and they were up for the test. After Martin Perez had sent down 16 straight going into the eighth inning, it was time for the bullpen to take over. Tyler Duffey and Taylor Rogers were given the following two innings and made it 22 straight sent down going into the 10th.
Blake Parker was given the tenth inning, and broke the streak of 22 straight batters sent down. He found himself in a pickle with bases loaded and no outs, and it was Parker’s time to settle in. He got an infield fly, strikeout, and a game-saving stop by Sano for the final out to keep the game tied. Zack Littell worked himself into a jam as well with two two-out walks, but got a flyout to end the threat in the 11th.
Mike Morin, Trevor May, and Matt Magill gave five more shutout innings that included only one walk while striking out five. And then things got even weirder as Kyle Gibson came into the game in the 17th inning to pitch. He was only asked to give one inning as Ryne Harper came in for the 18th. Harper had pitched the previous two games which is probably why they waited so long to put him in.
Harper found himself in a similar position as Parker was in, in the 10th, as he found himself with the bases loaded and no outs. It didn’t end the same way as Harper gave up three hits and three runs in the 18th.
Offense Goes Quiet
The Twins’ offense got going right away in today’s game as they were able to get two runs on three hits in the first inning. They were able to jump out in front of the Rays in all three games this series. However, after the first inning, they went completely quiet.
They combined for only 11 base runners off six hits and five walks through the next 17 innings, went 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position, and struck out 21 times. They also haven’t hit a home run in 28 straight innings going back to Tuesday’s game when Garver hit a home run in the eighth.
The bullpen set the offense up inning after inning to finish this game, and inning after inning, the offense put up a goose egg. They hit into three double plays today, two of them coming in extra innings and ending a threat.
Martin Perez came into this game on a very bad slump. Over his last six starts, he is only 0-2, but has an ERA of 6.83 and his ERA has risen from a season-best 2.83, to 4.15 after today’s start. The biggest issue it seemed with Perez was giving up walks. Over those six starts, 28 runs have been scored, 22 earned, on 35 hits and 15 walks!
Today, his first, and only, walk came in the second inning after he was ahead in the count 0-2. That walk came back to hurt Perez after two two-out hits tied the game at two. After that second inning, it was looking like Perez was again going to have a rough outing, and maybe time for him to take a break.
That inning was enough for Perez as he settled in and sent down 16 straight Rays’ batters to complete seven innings and finish his day. Perez looked very locked in today and was able to see that his fastball wasn’t working and incorporated his cutter and change-up a lot more to get the job done.
Because of the rain delay and 18 inning game, Jorge Polanco figured out mid-game that he would be the starting shortstop for AL in this year's All-Star Game.
Click herefor a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days.