The offense had no life and Carlos Correa repeatedly got himself and others out to take all the wind out of their sails. It’s the story of the 2023 Minnesota Twins. With the offense looking much better in recent weeks, it’s not a completely fair characterization, but the Twins only managed to put together one real threat against the Guardians all afternoon.
With runners at first and second and one out in the fifth, Rocco brought in Jordan Luplow to face excellent Cleveland rookie Tanner Bibee, opting for him over the heavily strikeout-prone Joey Gallo. But Luplow struck out anyway. Two batters later, Jorge Polanco was able to drive in a couple with an RBI single, but Carlos Correa popped out to end the threat from there. And that was essentially it on the offensive side.
Sonny Gray, on the other hand, was once again fantastic on the mound. He went seven innings without giving up a run and scattering a few baserunners, and did it with tremendous efficiency, throwing only 62 pitches through six. He ran into a couple runners in the seventh, but got out of it to preserve the Twins’ 2-0 lead.
Unfortunately, Griffin Jax and Jhoan Duran have not been their best selves recently. Jax gave up a run in the 8th and Duran another in the 9th, allowing Cleveland to tie the game and send it to Manfredball. The Duran run came on a weird wild pitch where it went behind Guardian’s hitter Bo Naylor, but clearly swung the bat to avoid being hit by the pitch. Instead of strike three and the game ending, the ump somehow missed it and the run scored. Either way, Jhoan Duran continues his awful second half stretch where he is giving up an .808 OPS to opposing hitters. Jax has been even worse, surrendering a .914 OPS in that stretch.
While the bullpen blowup is frustrating, the offense provided nothing to win the game. It’s easy to pin it on Jax and Duran, and they deserve some blame, but it’s hard to win when you only score two runs.
In extras, Rocco made one of the most baffling moves in his managerial career. After Emilio Pagán got the first two batters out in the 10th, Rocco made the move to walk Jose Ramirez and face Kole Calhoun instead, a smart trade. However, instead of having Pagán face Calhoun, Rocco brought in Kody Funderburk, pitching in his second career Major League game, wanting the left-on-left matchup. However, Calhoun is hitting over .300 against lefties this year, and then Funderburk fell behind 3-0. Calhoun put the next pitch into the right-center bleachers to win the game for the Guardians. The Twins couldn’t even manage to get their free Manfred Man home in the bottom half of the inning. Lifelessness persists.
Sonny Gray: 7 IP, 5 K, 0 R
Jorge Polanco: Twos all around! 2-2, 2B, 2 RBI, 2 BB
Everyone in the lineup besides Polanco and Solano: 0-26, 2 BB, 14 K
Specifically Carlos Correa: 0-4, 2 K, 5 LOB, LEAGUE LEADING 28th GIDP
Let’s take one extra minute and talk about how specifically, historically bad Carlos Correa has been at hitting into double plays.
- He’s already tied Harmon Killebrew for the most ever in a single Twins season
- He’s on pace for 34, the 3rd most EVER IN BASEBALL
- He’s playing hurt, and I know that's a huge part of this. I have a lot of faith in him beyond this season, but right now, it’s time to drop him in the order. If not now, for sure once Buxton and Kirilloff are back.
Comment of the game goes to geomyidae for coming up with the perfect plan to save the season and specifically saying I wouldn’t choose this as COTG.
That wraps up August for the Minnesota Twins! They have a 5 game lead with a month to go and another important head-to-head series with the Guardians come Monday. That series will shape a lot of this last month, and whether the Twins need to fight for their playoff lives or can be more strategic leading up to October. The good news is that reinforcements are on the way. Internally, it sounds like Buxton, Kirilloff, Castro, Paddack, Stewart, and Alcala could all return in the coming weeks, the first three earlier than the last three. There’s also a chance they could get some help externally thanks to the Angels and Yankees (I’m starting a prayer circle for Matt Moore).
It’ll be an exciting final month, that’s for sure.