After a rough three-game stretch at the Trop in St. Petersburg, a trip to the Bronx didn’t feel like what the Dr. would have prescribed for the Minnesota Twins, who have struggled there in recent years.
Is there a doctor in the house?
The Twins dropped four in a row against the Yankees, including the final game in spectacular meltdown fashion as Fernando Rodney allowed a walk-off homer to Gary Sanchez which sent the new Yankee Stadium crowd into a frenzy.
Here’s what we saw from our vantage point:
Kyle Gibson was absolutely brilliant on Thursday afternoon
Gibson went six innings, allowing just one hit — in the fifth inning — with a career-high 10 strikeouts and three walks. He threw 95 pitches, but even without the high pitch count might have gotten the gate as he was heading through the Yankees lineup for the third time.
ESPN had Gibson with 19 swinging strikes, while Brooks Baseball corroborated that claim with 10 swinging strikes on the slider, four on the curve, three on the changeup and one apiece on the four-seamer and the sinker. Baseball Reference had Gibson with 18 swinging strikes — likely a classification thing with a foul tip or something like that — which was the most he’s had in a start since getting 20 against the Chicago White Sox back on Sept. 13, 2015.
….other than Gibson, however, it was a forgettable series for the other three starters
Jake Odorizzi opened the series with 4.2 innings of five-run ball on Monday as the Twins were stymied by Masahiro Tanaka and the Yankees bullpen. More on that in a second. C.C. Sabathia bamboozled the Twins with his craftiness for six innings the next night while Jose Berrios was knocked around a bit: four innings, five earned runs, 7-2 K/BB ratio. Lance Lynn didn’t even get through the fourth inning before allowing seven hits and six earned runs to push his season ERA to 7.71.
On the bright side, Cincinnati is up next — and they’ve already fired their manager and packed it in for the season. It can’t get worse — can it?
Brian Dozier had a tough series
Let’s give credit where it’s due: Dozier is hitting .264/.340/.448 on the season coming into the series with the Reds. But that also speaks to how good he’s been this season — at least prior to the Yankees series — because he was just 1-for-16 with three walks against the Yankees.
It’s more of an observation than anything. These are the kinds of stretches guys have been having all season long. It sticks out like a sore thumb for Dozier just because he’s been so good this season. It’s a blip on the radar screen.
Twins bats, on the whole, were very, very quiet
The Twins busted out the sticks for 10 hits on Wednesday in the 7-4 loss, but otherwise had just 19 hits combined in the other three games as what’s expected to be a fairly potent offense was kept quiet in arguably the best hitting park in the American League. The Yankees, on the other hand, roped 34 hits, including 29 in the first three games.
On the positive side, the Twins had three-hit games over the final three games of the series from Eduardo Escobar, Max Kepler and Robbie Grossman. The last one is probably the most meaningful, as Grossman has really, really struggled this season (.171/.227/.317). Kepler’s was probably the most impressive, because it included a hit against Aroldis Chapman, and lefties have been his bugaboo dating back to his time in the low minors.
Only the last game really felt close
The Twins lost 14-1, 8-3 and 7-4 in the first three games, but honestly not of them had the feel of a close game. A big reason for that is the vaunted Yankees bullpen, and it’s not just because of Chapman at the end. Chad Green (0.93 FIP, 13.5 K/9) is one of the best relievers you’ve never heard of, David Robertson is as good as ever and Dellin Betances was on his game. That’s three guys who could close for quite a few teams, and beyond that, Adam Warren, Tommy Kahnle and Chasen Shreve are all pretty solid, too.
Didi Gregorius is a bad, bad man
Gregorius had one hit in the series opener — a grand slam off since DFA’d reliever Tyler Kinley.
In game two, Didi had three hits — including a two-run homer against Berrios.
In game three, Gregorius was 3-for-3 with two walks, including popping a homer against Lynn.
And on the last day, Gregorius rested. No, not really — but he did go 0-for-4. Even still, he’s laid waste to opposing pitchers with a slash line of .354/.452/.793. He also made a couple plays on defense that were really, really good, in case you wondered if he was a two-way player. In fact, he was a glove-first prospect coming up. His development as a hitter has been nothing short of incredible.
You can’t sleep on any batter 1-9 in the Yankees lineup
Tyler Austin doesn’t have a household name and struck out all three times he batted in Thursday’s game. Big deal, right? He’s still hitting a ridiculous .290/.362/.629 on the season. He batted seventh in that game. Behind him? Miguel Andujar, who hasn’t walked much this year, but is still slugging .574. Not bad for a guy who was the No. 59 prospect prior to this year for Baseball America and the No. 65 guy on MLB.com. Oh, and batting ninth — none other than Gleyber Torres. That’s the crown jewel from the Chapman trade. Torres is hitting a modest .316/.316/.368 through five MLB games, but he was a consensus top-10 prospect across the big-three guides this year, including No. 3 in Baseball Prospectus.
The Twins may have awakened a sleeping giant in Giancarlo Stanton
His swing still looks a little wonky — he does something where his back and front foot seem to switch places, which seems odd — but in the first game of the series, he went 4-for-4 with a massive home run off Odorizzi. He still had plenty of strikeouts in the series, but he finished 7-for-16 with a double and a homer, and is now hitting .237/.318/.454 on the season. That’s not great, but this team is horrifying for opponents once he gets going.
The Twins faced David Hale in the first game of the series, then brought him home after the series
Hale tossed a couple scoreless innings in mop-up work — in a good way — when the Yankees won 14-1 on Monday, but was promptly DFA’d when the team acquired A.J. Cole from the Washington Nationals. Then, during Thursday’s game, the Twins announced that they’d claimed Hale from the Yankees. He’s with the team as they open a series with the Cincinnati Reds over the weekend, and will work in long relief for the time being.
Hale has thrown 180.2 career MLB innings with a 4.43 ERA (4.32 FIP), 6.1 K/9 and a WHIP of 1.46. The claim is that the Twins were all over him as a minor-league free agent this offseason, but he’s going to have to show something he hasn’t beforehand to look like he’ll have any staying power.