The Minnesota Lynx may not have been able to play any defense in Game 1 of the playoffs, but at least they also turned the ball over a lot, too.
In what you’d have to say is one of the worst playoff performances we’ve ever seen in Minnesota basketball, the Lynx went down to Connecticut 90-60 on Wednesday night. Minnesota led briefly early in the second quarter, at 24-22, and from there were simply awful. The Sun ripped off a 21-3 run, led 46-32 at halftime, and pulled away from there.
Minnesota was completely unable to defend the three-point line in this one; Connecticut was 16-30 from downtown, and most of those looks were uncontested. On the flip side, the Lynx shot 35% from the floor and were 5-for-25 from behind the three-point line.
The visitors also turned the ball over an astonishing 19 times. Point guard Tiffany Mitchell ended the night with zero points, one assist, and four turnovers. And it wasn’t like the Lynx were playing a high-risk, high-reward kind of style; most of Minnesota’s turnovers were poor entry passes, or wayward attempts to pass from the top of the key to the wing.
It was a rough night for the Lynx rookies; Diamond Miller had five points, three of which came on a meaningless three-pointer with six seconds to go. Dorka Juhász had five points, two turnovers, and ended up playing just 23 minutes as the Lynx looked for an effective combination.
The Timberwolves have done an extraordinary amount of playoff losing, but even they have only lost by 30 in the playoffs one time.
Anyway, Game 2 is on Sunday, and I have no idea how the Lynx can come back from this one. They couldn’t shoot, or defend, or run their offense. Forget winning a game to make a step forward; it’d be a real advancement for them if they just don’t get embarrassed.
Maybe the most telling fact about the Twins bullpen is this one: Griffin Jax now leads the Twins in losses, with 10. And he’s the guy the Twins treat as their second-best reliever.
Jax gave up a Randy Arozarena homer in the ninth inning of a tie game in this one, a blast that traveled an estimated 950 feet to left field (that’s not a StatCast estimate, but rather my own guess), and the Twins lost to Tampa Bay 5-4.
It’s been an up-and-down year for Jax. He was terrible through mid-May, then was suddenly lights-out for two months; between May 22 and July 23, he pitched 23 times and allowed exactly one earned run, with opponents batting .111 against him.
July 24th, he blew a save opportunity against the Mariners, allowing an improbable pinch-hit homer to Kolten Wong, and since then he’s been terrible again. Including that game, he’s got a 7.23 ERA, and opposition hitters are batting .308 against him with a .925 OPS.
There are only six hitters in the entire major leagues, qualified for the batting title, that have an OPS above .925; put another way, in order to be a superstar hitter in this league, you need to be Shohei Ohtani, Corey Seager, Mookie Betts, Ronald Acuña Jr, Matt Olson, Freddie Freeman… or just be batting against Jax.
Every time the Twins bullpen has to pitch more than about two innings, it’s like trying to win big money at roulette by betting on black every time. Tonight, somehow, they got through Dylan Floro and Emilio Pagán (for two innings!) and Caleb Thielbar, before Jax was the one that finally came up red.
Oh, and the Twins lineup also was 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position again, with Max Kepler’s two-run triple the only bright spot.
But hey, the Guardians lost again. The Twins have 76 wins, and Cleveland would have to go 7-8 the rest of the way just to make it to 76; I really think Minnesota might be able to forfeit their way to the AL Central title.
The St. Paul Saints lost on Wednesday, 4-3 to the Iowa Cubs, and I think that means I’ll probably stop checking the International League standings. St. Paul has ten games to go and is five games behind Durham, and the chances of them making that deficit up are virtually zero.
Simeon Woods Richardson pitched pretty well again, allowing a run on three hits and three walks while striking out five in five innings, but third baseman-turned-pitcher Andrew Bechtold gave up three runs on a walk and three hits, and that was enough for Iowa.
After some semi-promising signs, Bechtold has given up multiple runs in five of his last six appearances, and is now sporting an 11.81 ERA for the year.
Super-prospect Brooks Lee is slumping a bit, going a combined 4-for-28 in the Saints’ series against Louisville and Iowa. Yunior Severino did hit home run number 34 on his year, so that’s something.
As for the Vikings, who play a Week 2 game in Philadelphia tonight, the second year in a row they’ve traveled to Philly in the second week fo the year: whoever makes the NFL schedule is a sadist, that’s all I can say.
TWINS at Chicago White Sox, 6:40pm
VIKINGS at Philadelphia, 7:15pm
SAINTS at Iowa, 12:08pm
GOPHER VOLLEYBALL vs High Point, 7pm
LOONS vs Sporting KC, Saturday
GOPHER FOOTBALL at North Carolina, Saturday
LYNX at Connecticut, Game 2, Sunday