The Moment: The Twins were a rolling failure with runners in scoring position. They set themselves up to score with some regularity, but just never came through when it mattered. The bases were loaded on Cody Allen in the bottom of the 9th, for example, but Joe Mauer hit a lazy fly ball to end the game. Classic Mauer.
The Hero: This is one of those games where looking solely at WPA doesn’t give you the full picture of how effective a particular player was. Danny Salazar gave up only 1 run over 6 innings, while he struck out 7. That said, he was constantly under pressure early in the game and was the beneficiary of the Twins’ inability to score in the clutch.
The Goat: Joe Mauer went 2-5 with a pair of singles, but was stranded on base both of those times ass the Twins failed to execute behind him. It was his turn to execute at the most critical of moments, with 2 outs and the bases loaded in the bottom of the 9th. Everyone will blame Mauer, and WPA reflects his failure, but truly, he was reflective of the entire team tonight.
The Soundtrack: You Spin Me Around – Dead or Alive. I did not know that this song was entitled “You Spin Me ‘a’round.” Fluky A. Not unlike Oakland through the 2000’s.
The Story: Pregame, the big headline was that Byron Buxton was given the night off. Eduardo Escobar took his spot in the lineup, while Robbie Grossman played the outfield, with Max Kepler shifting to center. Escobar took over nicely for Buxton, striking out twice. Kyle Gibson saw 7 hits fall in during his 5 innings of work. What I’m saying is, there wasn’t much of a difference between the lineup with or without Buxton, but perhaps there wasn’t quite the same ability in the outfield.
Max Kepler is off to a solid start this year, and his 9th inning double threatened to turn the tables for the Twins. It put him on second and Eddie Rosario on third with 2 away. Miguel Sano walked to load the bases before Mauer’s fly out. This seems to be part of a trend for Kepler. He is batting .292 with an OPS of .858, collecting 5 doubles and one triple, and it seems like, of late, he has been left twisting in the wind after getting those hits.
There were many ducks left on ponds Monday night. Jason Castro and Joe Mauer left 5 runners in scoring position between the two of them. It’s particularly frustrating that two of the veteran players that have recently or in the past been clutch producers were the ones left holding the bag last night. The good news is, if the Twins keep putting runners in scoring position, it will eventually even out.
Gibson had his problems, allowing those three runs, but Taylor Rogers and Tyler Duffey confused everyone with their first names, and confused Indians batters over 3 2.3 innings of work. Duffey, in particular, struck out 4 over 2 2/3. I really like his work in the bullpen, which means he will inevitably move back into the rotation within the next couple of weeks.
The Twins are failing to execute when it matters the most. They are in spots where a key hit will turn the tables, and if they keep giving themselves chances, soon, they will pay off. This slump is bound to be busted.