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Blue Jays 5, Twins 3: Spoiled by the Bullpen

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Do you hear that? It’s all the Twins fans typing on Twitter about free agent Craig Kimbrel

Toronto Blue Jays v Minnesota Twins Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Going into the season, it was easy to point to which area of the 2019 Twins team was the most unproven. The front office added some talent to the lineup and the starting rotation looked to be at least serviceable with Gibson and Berrios returning and some other potential talent in the back half. The bullpen was a question mark though, and the Twins added just Blake Parker to the mix in a free agency pool that had a quite a few quality relievers.

The bullpen got off to a pretty solid start of the season, but it appears that the inexperience and inconsistency in the ‘pen are now showing through. However, there were a few positives to take away from this game, beginning with a pretty solid outing by Martin Perez. It was also Jackie Robinson day, a baseball holiday of sorts where each player and coach wore number 42 to honor the man that broke the MLB’s color barrier. I posted this video in the gamethread, but if you didn’t see it there, take a look now:

In his first start with Twins, Perez labored a bit in the early innings, but was helped out by some quality defense and strikeouts in key spots. Byron Buxton made a nice grab to get the first out of the game, which was promptly followed up by a diving stop and strong throw from Willians Astudillo, who was playing third base tonight.

Perez struggled a bit with his command early, missing low and/or inside on almost all of the balls that he threw early on. Mitch Garver frequently set up low and inside, as Perez threw quite a few off-speed pitches down-and-in to righties. It was his revived fastball that helped him avoid major damage, as his heater was the pitch that collected four of his five strikeouts.

Matt Shoemaker was on point in the early goings of the game for the Blue Jays, hitting his spots and exhibiting why he had only allowed two runs in his first 23 innings of the seasons. Shoemaker starting losing control in fourth inning, and the Twins were able to capitalize and put up three runs. The rally started with a Jorge Polanco ground ball that had an expected hit percentage of 11%, but was very Minnesotan and managed to sneak into the outfield.

After an Eddie Rosario walk, CJ Cron delivered a smash that was launched into the second deck of left field. Cron knew it too, as he discarded his bat and began his 2nd home run trot in as many days before the ball reached the stands.

Perez ended up going six innings, giving up just one run on seven hits. The left-hander also walked two and struck out five in an outing where he looked like a competent starting pitcher. Hopefully this is a trend for the Twins, as Perez will look to continue his success in his next outing against the Orioles.

Ryne Harper came on to relieve Perez in the seventh inning and pitched quite well, mowing down the Blue Jays in order and recording two strikeouts. Toronto seemed baffled by Harper’s looping curveball, as the right-handed reliever tossed 10 deuces in an outing that required just 15 pitches.

Adalberto Meija did not have such a good night. With Parker, Trevor May, Trevor Hildenberger, and Taylor Rodgers all pitching yesterday (and Hildenberger, Rodgers and Parker also pitching on Saturday), Meija was tasked with the eighth inning and was eventually saddled with the loss. The southpaw gave up for hits to begin the inning, with the big dagger being a three-run bomb by Teoscar Hernandez.

The Twins offense couldn’t muster a hit in the final two innings, and didn’t do much the whole game. As a whole, they managed just five hits on the night.

Notes:

  • The Blue Jays had some poor execution that helped Perez get six through innings of work, listed below:
  • An Allen Hanson bunt popped up to Perez also helped slow down a Jays rally in the 2nd inning
  • There was major tootblan by Randal Grichuk in the third inning, as he slowed down rounding second on a ball hit to left-center, before deciding to try for third. He was promptly thrown out to end the inning.
  • With Teoscar Hernandez on first and Brandon Drury batting with a 2-2 count in the 6th inning, Drury took a ball and started walking to first like it was ball four. Hernandez also started to walk to second, but the Twins weren’t fooled and picked Hernandez off before he could make it back to the bag.
  • Perez’s fastball velocity was sustained throughout the game, as he regularly sat between 94 and 96 MPH, reaching as high as 96.4 MPH.
  • Rocco Baldelli was ejected from his first game as the Twins manager, arguing after a CJ Cron swung and appeared to foul the ball off of his hand. The umpire called Cron out on strikes (saying he swung and the ball hit him), and Baldelli was tossed after a lengthy, but fairly calm-looking discussion.

STUDS

Martin Perez: 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 5Ks

C.J. Cron: 1-4, HR, 3 RBI

Jorge Polanco: 3-3, BB

Jake Cave: 1-2, 2B, 2BB

Ryne Harper: 1 IP, 2Ks

DUDS

Garver, Cruz, Rosario, Astudillo, Schoop, Buxton: 0-23, 6Ks

Adalberto Meija: 2 IP, 4 H, 4 ER, Loss

Robot Roll Call: