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Braves 4, Twins 1: Spencer Strider dominates

The Twins competed, but Spencer Strider just pitched a little better than Sonny Gray

MLB: Minnesota Twins at Atlanta Braves
This wasn’t your fault, Sonny.
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Twins have had quite a few non-competitive performances over the past few weeks. This was not one of them.

Sonny Gray went toe-to-toe against the best strikeout pitcher in baseball. The Twins took a 1-0 lead on an impressive Joey Gallo bomb to center field. Atlanta didn’t score until the bottom of the fourth inning and it took a near-double-play to allow the first Braves run to cross the plate. The game remained tied at one until the bottom of the seventh inning, and the Twins even managed to put together a pair of semi-legitimate rallies in the eighth and ninth innings, even though they didn’t score again.

The Braves are the hottest team in baseball and Strider is one of the games best pitchers. As disappointing as a 4-1 loss is, the Twins were truly in this game.

The Twins clearly had a gameplan of trying to attack Strider early in counts, and Edouard Julien lead the game off with a bloop single to left-center. Max Kepler, batting in the three-hole, coaxed a one-out walk but Carlos Correa lined out to center and Willi Castro grounded out on a hot smash to Ozzie Albies at second base.

For his part, Gray was sharp. He allowed single base hits in the second and third innings and the Braves didn’t have a serious threat until the bottom of the fourth with the Twins leading 1-0 after Gallo’s second-inning homer. Austin Riley and Matt Olson each stroked one-out singles, putting runners at the corners.

Travis d’Arnaud bounced one slowly to shortstop, and Correa did what he could to try to turn the inning-ending double play, flipping it to Donovan Solano at second. But Solano’s throw to first base was a hair late and a hair low. Alex Kirilloff missed it, allowing the run to score and the ball to roll into the dugout. It was scored a missed catch error on the Twins’ first baseman because the batter-runner advanced to second base, but the throw was too late to convert the double-play anyway.

Gray stranded a pair of runners in the fifth to keep the game tied at one and then shut down the Braves 1-2-3 in the bottom of the sixth.

In the meantime, the Twins were flailing away at Strider. After a Kirilloff single in the third, the Twins did not manage another baserunner until a Joey Gallo walk with two outs in the seventh. Strider struck out Farmer, and the Twins were done.

Somewhat surprisingly, Twins manager Rocco Baldelli left Gray in to start the seventh inning with a pitch count north of 90. Gray immediately fell behind Marcell Ozuna, and the Braves designated hitter crushed a 3-1 fastball to left-center for a go-ahead homer. Gray got the next two outs, but a line drive off the bat of Michael Harris II glanced off the glove of a leaping Kirilloff at first and Gray was removed from the game after 102 pitches. Baldelli went with Emilio Pagán, whose well-documented allergy to high-leverage situations continued; Ronald Acuña Jr. promptly deposited a 2-1 homer into the left-field seats to create a 4-1 deficit for the Twins.

The Twins hit the ball well off of relief pitcher Colin McHugh. Ryan Jeffers stroked a sinking line drive to left field, where Old Friend Eddie Rosario made a nice sliding catch to start the inning. Julien and Kirilloff both singled, and Kirilloff advanced to second base on a Kepler fly out. But with two runners in scoring position, Correa flew out to right to end the threat.

In the ninth, Minnesota got a one-out single from Donovan Solano before Gallo and pinch-hitter Byron Buxton struck out to end the game.


  • Gray was sharp. This was the deepest he’s pitched into a game in quite some time, and he simply appeared to run out of gas a bit in the middle innings.
  • Other than the double play that wasn’t turned, this was a well-played game by the Twins. Yes, they struck out 10 times, but that’s pretty much right on par with what Strider’s been doing to everyone this year.
  • The Braves are really, really good. They’re a well-rounded team with a truly potent lineup.


  • Sonny Gray: 6 23 IP, 3 ER, 7 H, 5 K, BB


  • Emilio Pagán: 13 IP, HR, K
  • Carlos Correa: 0-for-4, K
  • Kyle Farmer: 0-for-3, 2 K