I am tired of writing about losses, but it seems I am truly cursed at this point. Even with the Twins playing well, the only games they’ve lost this week have been the ones I’ve covered. But enough about me.
Pablo López did his best to put my personal losing streak to rest, but even his heroics weren’t enough. Pablo completely silenced the Mets’ bats, going eight innings without New York even putting together a threat, striking out a career-high 14 batters along the way.
Things (somewhat worryingly) fell apart in the 8th for Griffin Jax, though, in typical Jax fashion, it was a lot of weak contact still. Francisco Lindor led the inning off with a double, but it had an exit velocity of 76.8 MPH and a launch angle of 56 degrees, a ball that should have been caught by Matt Wallner, regardless of where he was shaded. Jax then hit Jeff McNeil before getting Pete Alonso swinging. DJ Stewart was up next and put together a nice at-bat, fouling off three two-strike pitches before finally hitting one into the right-center gap to plate two. The Twins lightly threatened in the bottom half of the ninth, but ultimately couldn’t get anything done to help Pablo out on his career night.
López is putting the finishing touches on what has been a spectacular first season in Minnesota. He is second in the American League in strikeouts, and the first Twins to go over 200 Ks since Jose Berrios in 2018. He has the fourth most strikeouts in Twins history since 1990, behind four Johan Santana seasons. He doesn’t have the great pitching line to truly make him a Cy Young contender, but he’s been even more reliable than Sonny Gray, who’s very likely to rank in the top five. By xERA and xFIP, he’s been a top 2 pitcher in the AL, maybe suggesting he’s been a little unlucky.
I’ve previously said I won’t revisit the Arraez-López swap, but I want to one last time to say that these last few months are exactly why the Twins made the trade. Edouard Julien, Royce Lewis, and Alex Kirilloff’s breakout seasons were exactly what you were hoping for when trading Arraez, and they correctly believed they could make up for what they would lose. That says nothing of Brooks Lee or Austin Martin, who haven’t made it to the majors yet, or Jorge Polanco who has been a linchpin in the offense’s second half turnaround.
While you can always find somewhere to play a good bat, they traded from a position of strength to get what they felt could be a frontline starting pitcher, and they were correct. Pablo López is an ace. He’s a Game 1 playoff starter who can match up with anyone else in the league. That is the missing piece the Twins have needed the last few years.
It would have been nice to throw a couple runs Pablo’s way and get him the win, but it’s hard to leave this game feeling anything but encouraged about the Twins’ playoff chances with Pablo on the mound.
Pablo f***ing López: 8 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 14 K
The offense, need I say more?
The Guardians currently trail the Angels, so it could be 12 by the end of the evening.