All the excitement of AL Central Division championship and 101 wins seemed to disappear quickly in New York Friday night. Some unfortunate events in the field and some unfamiliar bullpen results left the Twins once again losers to the Yankees in a postseason game.
Starter: Jose Berrios 4.0 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 6 K, 61.4% strikes (54 of 88 pitches)
Bullpen: 4.0 IP, 4 H, 7 ER, 5 BB, 6 K
Home Runs: Jorge Polanco (1), Nelson Cruz (1), Miguel Sano (1)
Multi-Hit Games: Jorge Polanco (2-for-4), Marwin Gonzalez (2-for-4)
Top 3 WPA: Jorge Polanco (.248), Nelson Cruz(.105), Miguel Sano (.062)
Bottom 3 WPA: Cody Stashak (-.151), Mitch Garver (-.123), Eddie Rosario (-.122)
Bomba SZN starts early
It didn’t take us long to find out who would hit the first postseason home run for the Twins in 2019. After a Mitch Garver strikeout, Jorge Polanco took James Paxton deep to put the Twins up 1-0 in the first inning.
Then as the Twins got into the third inning, Nelson Cruz did what he has done all season to left-handed pitchers. Cruz took a ball to right field and took full advantage of that short wall in Yankee Stadium to put the Twins up 2-0.
Berrios looked up for the task, until undone by errors
As Berrios took the mound it looked like we were going to get a few innings of the energetic, strike-throwing Berrios we have been looking for. As fastball after fastball registered 95 mph on the gun things were going well.
The one concern was the pitch count which was already at 48 pitches after two innings of work. So while far from perfect, Berrios was getting the job done. Then in the third inning Luis Arraez, who may have bumped into an umpire, looked unsteady as he headed for a short pop up and missed it as it fell to the outfield grass.
That was the first of two missed opportunities to put an out on the scoreboard. It was followed by Twin-killer Edwin Encarnacion hitting his second double of the game to drive in DJ LeMahieu.
Arraez was involved in the second missed opportunity as the relay from second to first during a double play did not connect. The second play looked to be more on C.J. Cron than on Arraez even though the throw was by no means perfect.
Arraez redeemed himself as he would double in the fifth inning. Allowing Polanco to come back to the plate and collect his second hit of the evening and drive Arraez in to tie the game up 3-3.
Bullpen wasn't quite the same
The most questionable move of the night may have came at the beginning of the fifth inning. Berrios had just been taken out of the game after going four innings and giving up four hits, three walks, and one earned run. After Tyler Duffey had been warming up earlier, Baldelli turned to Zack Littell to face the heart of the Yankees lineup.
Duffey came in after Littell walked Judge and hit Gardner with a pitch. By that time it gave Duffey little wiggle room and he eventually gave up a bases-loaded double to Torres off of Sano’s glove.
The second questionable bullpen move came when Cody Stashak was put in the game and gave up two home runs to let the Yankees go up 7-4 in the sixth. It seems especially strange at this stage to have Stashak in against the top of the Yankee lineup when Taylor Rogers, Sergio Romo, and Trevor May are all sitting out in the bullpen.
After Stashak, Baldelli turned to Kyle Gibson to likely save some of the other arms in the pen. LeMahieu continued to have a good night as he hit a bases-clearing double to go with a home run, two runs, and leaving him 3-for-5 on the night.
This wasn’t a good start in an attempt to “slay the dragon” as the Twins droped the game 10-4. Thankfully we don’t even need to wait 24 hours before we will see how the Twins rebound from their Game 1 loss.
Postgame With Baldelli
Pitching Staff Spreadsheet
Here's a look at the pitching staff usage: