The Twins reached 10 runs yet again on Thursday afternoon, and they ended up needing nearly every one of them. Despite holding a 10-1 lead entering the eighth inning, things ended up getting much too interesting, though the Twins still managed to win 10-5.
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Box ScorePineda: 5.2 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 65.6% strikes (63 of 96 pitches)Bullpen: 3.1 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 4 BB, 1 KHome Runs: Cruz (12), Cron (15)Multi-Hit Games: Adrianza (3-for-5), Cruz (3-for-4, HR, BB), Polanco (2-for-6), Gonzalez (2-for-5, 2B), Schoop (2-for-4, 2B)WPA of +0.1: Pineda .304, Cruz .223, Arianza .204, Kepler .150WPA of -0.1: None(chart via FanGraphs)Early Pitchers Duel in Minnesota Today’s contest featured an early pitchers duel, which is something we are not used to seeing from Minnesota this year. Pineda and Kikuchi were both sharp early on limiting the scoring through the first five innings as Minnesota looked to improve to an 18-4 record following a loss.Early Wasted OpportunitiesThe scoring opportunities were limited but the Twins wasted a good one in the second inning when they had the bases loaded with nobody out and couldn’t score a run. Through the first five innings Minnesota had stranded seven runners and were 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position. The lone run for Minnesota came courtesy of a solo home run from Nelson Cruz in the third inning.Small Ball Leads to a Big Sixth InningThe top half of the sixth inning was not a great one for Minnesota. After allowing two base runners with two outs Pineda was pulled from the game and Ryne Harper was brought in to face Daniel Vogelbach. The need for another left-handed reliever in the Minnesota bullpen was never more apparent after Harper surrendered a base hit to Vogelbach which tied the game at 1-1.The bottom half of the inning, however, was a great one for Minnesota and featured something we haven’t seen much from this team. They would score six runs in the inning without hitting a home run or collecting an extra base hit. Max Kepler led off the inning with a walk and Rocco Baldelli would reach into his bag of tricks and call for a hit and run play with Ehire Adrianza at the plate. The hit and run was executed perfectly when Ehire singled through the right side of the infield advancing Kepler to third. A throwing error from the Seattle pitcher on a pick-off attempt would allow Kepler to score from third.A wild pitch advanced Adrianza to third and he would score on a Jason Castro ground ball to second with the infield drawn in. After Byron Buxton drew a walk, the Twins had runners on first and second and Jorge Polanco singled to center extending his hit-streak to 14 games and loaded the bases with still nobody out. Unlike the second inning, Minnesota was able to capitalize on this opportunity.Nelson Cruz singled through the left side of the infield, scoring Castro and Buxton giving Minnesota a 5-1 lead. A sacrifice fly from Marwin Gonzales and an RBI single from Max Kepler, Minnesota had a six-run bottom of the sixth and a 7-1, lead breaking open what was once a pitchers duel.Bomba Squad Strikes Again After Minnesota broke the game open in the sixth they weren’t done scoring yet. In the seventh inning Buxton walked, advanced to second on a wild pitch and scored on an RBI single from Polanco. Following the single from Polanco, Seattle would turn to their bullpen and bring in Tyler Scott who received a rude welcome from C.J. Cron when he blasted a two-run home run on the second pitch of the at bat.This game was cruising along and had the makings of a low-scoring pitchers duel but the potent Minnesota offense flipped the script in a hurry. When the fifth inning ended the score was 1-0. By the time the seventh inning was over Minnesota had jumped out to a 10-1 lead.Pineda Looks Sharp; Romero Struggles Pineda’s best start of the year came on May 16 in Seattle and he didn’t disappoint against his former team today either. Although he didn’t match his success from that May 16 start Pineda gave Minnesota a solid performance fishing with 5 2/3 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 4 K.Fernando Romero, who was recalled from Triple A prior the game, struggled mightily in his return to the big leagues. He surrendered two hits, two walks and two runs before being pulled from the game without recording an out.Matt Magill was called upon to clean up the mess created by Romero and he did just that. He walked the first batter he faced loading the bases with no outs, but quickly rebounded to retire the side without allowing a run to score.Stay Hot, Ehire Adrianza Remember when Adrianza was hitting below the Mendoza line and all of Twins territory couldn’t wait for him to be shown the door? Well, since May 13 he’s hitting .439/.510/.634.Postgame With BaldelliBullpen UsageHere’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days: