SP: Jorge Lopez: 5.2 IP, 8 H, 6 ER, 1 BB, 5 K (88 pitches, 67 strikes (76%)
Home Runs: Royce Lewis (2), Michael A. Taylor (6)
Top 3 WPA: Royce Lewis (.257), Jorge Polanco (.146), Donovan Solano (.144)
Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs)
Everything happens in three’s
Byron Buxton was a topic of the game. From the booth, Eric Perkins touched a little bit Buxton not in center-field and those have also been echoed by some Twins fans on Twitter. Buxton, while improving, is not a life-long designated hitter and seems to hit better, and is more alive when he is in the outfield. So when will Buxton get back to center field? Probably not anytime soon. He has played in 90% of the games to start this season. However, he is missed in center field.
All this was spoken about before he was drilled in the ribs by a Tanner Bibee fastball. He remained in the game and reached third base, but when his spot came up again, Donovan Solano batted.
Max Kepler continues to work on bringing up his batting average, and it seems to help for him to be playing against the Guardians. Kepler could be in a slump, and stepping up to bat against the Guardians somehow energizes him and brings out the best baseball in him. In his first at-bat, Kepler singled, but was ultimately stranded. Later, he ripped a ball into right field scoring Kirilloff, tying the game. But, ultimately was replaced by Willi Castro, leaving the game with a migraine. An issue he hasn’t really battled before, or at least has been mentioned. Either way, his presence tonight before leaving was vital to the outcome of the game.
Carlos Correa made ball contact tonight, but left the game with re-aggravated plantar fasciitis. He was replaced by Kyle Farmer, who had five at-bats but wasn’t able to produce anything.
Plenty of Offense to go around
Pablo Lopez started out strong in his 12th start with the Twins, his sixth start at Target Field. With the exception of the one run in the second inning, Lopez was able to control the game through five innings. The Twins offense answered in the fourth getting a run of their own to tie up the game and then continued to get runs in the fifth inning.
One of the bright spots of the night was Michael A. Taylor’s home run into left center field pulling the Twins ahead 2-1. Taylor doesn’t have the best offensive numbers, but he continues to come in clutch. Christian Vasquez got a double with only one out on the inning and the infield came in for Alex Kirilloff, thinking they would be able to stop him. It did the Guardians no good, Kirilloff hit a high line drive above the head of second baseman Andres Gimenez to score Vasquez.
The Twins were up 3-1, but that all changed with a walk from Myles Straw. Lopez was really struggling to get out of the inning, his command waivered and the Guardians took advantage. They scored five runs in the inning to take a 6-3 with two outs. Lopez was replaced by Emilio Pagan to finish out the inning with no additional damage.
Pagan added a smooth seventh inning, with a little assistance from Joey Gallo who robbed Steven Kwan of a base hit diving after the ball in superman fashion for the first out of the inning and then catching a fly ball from Ramirez. The eighth inning was touch-and-go for Pagan and the Twins defense, the Guardians certainly threatened by putting two guys on, but they were left stranded.
The Twins battled back in the eighth inning with another single from Willi Castro (replaced Kepler) giving way to Donovan Solano (replaced Buxton) to double and score Castro to get the game within two runs. With Solano on base and an 0-for-3 count on the night, Royce Lewis stepped up to the plate and on a 1-1 count, timed a perfect swing hitting a 421 foot homerun to tie up the game.
Griffin Jax held the Guardians to six runs, and Vasquez and the Twins brought the funk and the noise in the ninth inning. Not in the mood for extra innings, the Twins decided to clean up in the ninth inning. Jorge Polanco had a night like Lewis, came up to the plate with 0-for-4 count and ripped a ball into right field down the first base line putting the Twins in a position to generate runs.
With no outs, the Guardians who had seen enough of Kirilloff and his bat for the night, walked him to load the bases in hopes of a double play. But Castro ruined their plans. On a change-up, Castro hit a sac fly deep into center field, sending Jeffers (pinch runner for Vasquez) home to walk-off the Guardians. The first walk off win for Castro and the first win of the series for the Twins.
The Twins will spend the weekend in a match with the Guardians before taking on the other first place team, Tampa Bay Rays starting Tuesday.
Friday 7:10 pm: RHP Bailey Ober (3-2, 2.68 ERA) vs. RHP Aaron Civale (1-1, 2.84ERA)
Saturday 6:15 pm: RHP Sonny Gray (4-0, 1.94 ERA) vs. LHP L.T. Allen (2-2, 2.72 ERA)
Sunday 2:10 pm: RHP Joe Ryan (7-2, 2.77 ERA) vs. TBD (not posted as of 6/1/23)
Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet