There was plenty to celebrate in the Twins’ 12-8 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Sunday. Slugger Nelson Cruz hit the 400th home run of his career, Tyler Duffey and Brusdar Graterol, pitched well in relief and the win reduced the Twins’ magic number to three.
#MNTwins magic number: 3 pic.twitter.com/WHqOKHezTZ
— Aaron Gleeman (@AaronGleeman) September 22, 2019
But Sunday’s win was nearly as ugly as Saturday’s loss to the Royals. And both games underscored a problem: starting pitching.
Jose Berrios couldn’t preserve the Twins’ lead on Saturday and Martin Perez, who was handed a six-run lead after the first inning on Sunday, made an even bigger mess of things. Perez coughed up five runs in two-plus innings and was done after 52 pitches.
Reliever Zack Littell allowed an unearned run, but relievers Duffey, Trevor May, Cody Stashak and Graterol were excellent. Duffey struck out the side on 12 pitches and Graterol did the same on 14 pitches.
And then things got interesting. Fernando Romero managed to get two outs in the top of the ninth inning, but he also walked the bases loaded. Twins manager Rocco Baldelli then turned to Sergio Romo to get the final out, but he walked in two runs before striking out the Royals’ Alex Gordon on three pitches.
Up next, the Twins head to Motown to play the 109-loss Detroit Tigers on Tuesday. Jake Odorizzi gets the ball.
-So what do the Twins do with their struggling rotation? Perhaps Randy Dobnak does deserve a spot in the postseason rotation.
Twins rotation if they reach playoffs:
Game 1-Dobnak. Game 2-Smeltzer. Game 3-Thorpe. 4-ah, I suppose Berrios.
— Reusse (@Patrick_Reusse) September 22, 2019
-Not only did Cruz hit his 40th home run of the season (and 400 for his career), Miguel Sano also hit two blasts on Sunday and Eddie Rosario had three hits, all doubles.
-The Twins bullpen has shown a lot of improvement during the second-half of the season, including Duffey, who hasn’t allowed a run since July 23. But that’s not the case for Trevor Hildenberger who continues to struggle. Hildy contributed to a seven-run ninth inning in the Twins’ 12-5 loss on Saturday. He is 2-2 with a 10.47 ERA.
Tyler Duffey struck out the side on 12 pitches in T5. He has 78 Ks and 14 BBs in 55 2/3 IP this season. Hasn't allowed a run since July 23, a stretch of 22 2/3 IP (38 Ks/3 BBs). #MNTwins
— Dan Hayes (@DanHayesMLB) September 22, 2019
-The Twins play six more games to end the season. They have three at Detroit and three more at Kansas City before it’s all over. The Twins were 5-2 on this just-completed home stand. Now, they hit the road where they are a major league best 25 games over .500.
-The Twins are 96-60. They need to win six straight to tie the 1965 club at 102-60.