MINNEAPOLIS – Even five-point deficits can return to seem manageable as this formation approaches its full potential. The twins left a little question about this Tuesday afternoon. The bullpen, on the other hand, failed to maintain its recent success.
After Minnesota dug a five-point hole late due to a sloppy defense and another wobbly effort from Alex Colomé, the twins’ bats immediately took advantage of an equally rickety Cincinnati bullpen with five hits and five points at the bottom. of the eighth. But even that was immediately canceled out when Tyler Naquin hit a three-point home run in the ninth out of Hansel Robles who sank the Twins in a 10-7 defeat at Target Field.
The result interrupted a five-game winning streak for Minnesota and ensured a two-game Interleague Series split before a day off and the next four home games against Cleveland.
“No matter what happened to us today, our boys kept playing,” said manager Rocco Baldelli. “The at-bats were good. We kept putting points on the scoreboard. We’ve had a lot of good swings. I mean, looking at our training sheet and looking at all the guys, we had a lot of guys who went out there and put good swings on the ball today. “
Even though the Twins started the day with a record of 3-25 when they were trailing after seven innings and saw their deficit grow further into the top eighth, they could also have flipped a switch once the miserly southpaw. of the Reds Wade Miley was finally out of the game after a seven innings effort, giving way to a Cincinnati relief corps that ranked worst in baseball with a 5.58 ERA entering the game.
They looked all the part.
Minnesota greeted the Art Warren right-hander with a walk from Jorge Polanco and a 422-foot blast and two runs from Max Kepler that cut the deficit to three. Once entering the right-hander Lucas Sims, Trevor Larnach threw a ball even farther, approximately 434 feet from the right field, approaching the twins. Following Ryan Jeffers’ single, Miguel Sanó doubled up from the top of the wall, missing an even-matched homer by inches, before Alex Kirilloff’s doubling down center-right still lured the Twins.
While the lineup is almost back to full speed (or full as it will be with Byron Buxton sidelined for the next few weeks), this isn’t necessarily the group the twins thought they would be rolling out every day at the start of the season, with Larnach (.787 OPS) and Kirilloff (.750 OPS) who forced themselves into almost daily action with smooth transitions to the big leagues.
They still haven’t looked out of place in the big leagues, and have continued to look comfortable as they both played significant roles in the twins’ chain of success in the eighth.
“They are learning on the go, but they do it well, doing a good job,” Baldelli said. “And they are playing well at the Major League level. These are guys who, despite not being with us at the beginning of the year I believe, were motivated to be here and had every intention of being here and are proving that they can go out there and play baseball well in the big leagues. .
But the Minnesota bullpen, which appeared to be making strides in three Texas games, also showed off its struggles throughout the season. Launching for the fourth time in five days, Robles gave Nick Castellanos a double and hit Tyler Stephenson before Naquin put the Reds ahead. After a series of hard-fought matches against Rangers and Monday night’s five-hour marathon, the Twins’ bullpen was crushed – and that too showed.
“We rode our bullpen hard,” Baldelli said. “It’s something we pay close attention to. … Our kids got the ball today in the days when a lot of those kids probably, in a different week, would have been completely down today. And we just had to give them the ball and let them go to work. Some of their stuff was down because of it. “
However, with the bullpen only allowing for four points earned over 24 innings (1.50 ERA) during the Twins’ recent five-game winning streak and Bailey Ober morphing into another mostly solid start, the pitch had slowly gathered some momentum before the final innings on Tuesday. .
If they can continue like this, this offense definitely has the power to win a few games – and the Twins proved it in force in the eighth inning.