The Twins lost again on Wednesday, 8-7 in extra innings against Milwaukee, a second consecutive day in which the bullpen blew the lead (and for good measure, blew it twice). Emilio Pagán heard all the positivity, and decided to remind everyone what he’s about, giving up a two-run homer to cut a 6-3 Twins lead to 6-5; Caleb Thielbar let the Brewers tie it, then Jhoan Duran gave up two runs in the tenth - his second inning of work, indicating how desperate the Twins are - and lost it.
As an aside, this one shows just how dumb counting stats can be for the bullpen; Pagán had the worst outing, but got a hold; Thielbar got a blown save even though he pitched the seventh inning; and Duran got a loss, but not a blown save, since he was already in the game when the Twins took the lead.
I was trying to find some rhyme or reason for why the Twins are so up and down this year - they seem to win six out of every eight, then follow that up by losing four straight. In theory, this could be due to a top-heavy starting rotation, the “Spahn and Sain and pray for rain” theory, but here’s a look at the team’s record since July 1, based on who was the starting pitcher:
Pablo López: 6-2
Sonny Gray: 3-6
Bailey Ober: 5-4
Kenta Maeda: 5-4
Joe Ryan / Dallas Keuchel: 5-4
In case you think this shows how Sonny Gray has struggled, he has a 3.90 ERA, and has thrown seven quality starts out of nine in that stretch. He’s currently on a streak of six consecutive quality starts; the team is 3-3 in those games, and is averaging barely three runs per game.
Ultimately, you’d have to say that Gray’s season is probably the story of this Twins season. They’ve gotten unbelievable starting pitching all year, and they can’t consistently score enough runs to make it count, and even when they do score runs they always have the chance that their mediocre bullpen is going to give away some games.
They’ve lost four of six; they scored five or more runs three times, and they’re 1-2 in those games.
The AL Central’s going to be decided in the next two weeks; Minnesota has seven games against the (good) Rangers, plus six more against the (bad, but hanging around) Guardians. They can more or less clinch the Central if they want… or they can blow the whole thing, honestly.
I’m not confident in it going either way.
The St. Paul Saints got back into the win column, beating Omaha 6-4 thanks to the miracles of lineup construction. The top five hitters in the Saints batting order got 12 hits and three walks in 25 plate appearances; the bottom four combined to go 0-15 with a walk and a sacrifice fly.
Kyle Garlick was the hero, going 5-for-5, scoring three times and driving in two more; Andrew Stevenson also had three hits, and Brooks Lee and Anthony Prato got two apiece. Kody Funderburk, who has probably been St. Paul’s best reliever this year, blew the lead in the eighth but picked up the win in the ninth when St. Paul rallied for two more runs.
Also it turns out that his name is spelled differently from former Ohio State power forward Lawrence Funderburke, who I somehow remember from my childhood; my initial assumption was that they must be related, because what were the odds of them not being related.
This is the coverage you’re here for, I’m sure.
TWINS at Texas, 6:10pm
SAINTS at Omaha, 6:35pm
LYNX at Dallas, 7pm
GOPHER VOLLEYBALL vs TCU, Friday
VIKINGS vs Arizona (preseason), Saturday
LOONS vs Seattle, Sunday