Wetmore: 5 thoughts, a blown lead and a bad decision to bunt Santana
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MINNEAPOLIS - The first five batters that came to the plate for the Twins on Tuesday all scored. Just like that, a five-run lead for Kyle Gibson.
Unfortunately for them, they gave it all back and then some over the next six innings, and then hamstrung themselves in a comeback effort in the seventh inning. The Indians beat Minnesota, 7-5.
This column presents 5 thoughts from Tuesday's game.
As always, feel free to ask questions or make observations in the comments. If you have a unique baseball observation during a game, feel free to share it with me on Twitter (@DerekWetmore).
1. The Twins began the game with this sequence from the top of their order: double, walk, automatic double, single, home run. Five runs, no outs.
That's an unlikely lead to give back, but it's not unthinkable. According to data from Fangraphs.com, the Twins had a 91.2 percent chance to win the game when Oswaldo Arcia clubbed a middle-middle changeup to right field for a three-run homer.
2. For Arcia, the home run means he has gone deep in three consecutive games. That's the second time in his career he's done that, according to the Twins. The first was last August against the White Sox in Chicago.
3. To follow up a point from Monday's 5 thoughts column, the Royals, in all likelihood, used Kennys Vargas' minor league numbers when they decided to shift him.
He seems like he's capable of hitting the other way, and that's exactly what he did Monday as a left-handed hitter. The Royals shifted him to pull and Vargas poked the ball through the wide-open left side of the infield.
"I hate to say this for a scouting report, but he'll hit a ball where it's pitched," Twins GM Terry Ryan said Tuesday. "He hit a ball to third base. I don't ever recall him being a guy that's a dead-pull hitter. ... He's a guy that uses the whole field."
I had wondered if minor league teams compile spray charts or batted ball data and send them to the Major League club. Apparently that is the case, according to Ryan.
4. Trailing by two runs in the seventh inning, the Twins put runners on first and second with no outs and failed to score. After putting two runners on with nobody out, Danny Santana was asked to bunt. I don't understand that decision at all.
Here are four reasons why it didn't make sense to me:
a) If successful, the bunt would reduce the run expectancy for that inning from 1.556 runs to 1.447 runs, according to Tom Tango's most recent run expectancy matrix.
b) That run expectancy takes the average runs scored from 1993-2010 in each base-out state. So those numbers would mean an average batter is at the plate. Santana is one of the Twins better hitters.
c) While lefties have struggled against Marc Rzepcynski this season, righties have mashed him. It's admittedly a small sample size of 78 right-handed batters this season, but they're collectively hitting .354/.462/.556 against the reliever this season. That compares favorably to the .161/.215/.184 line lefties have posted.
d) If the bunt was merely to avoid a double play, it would have made more sense to let Santana swing away. With Santana's speed, it's unlikely he'd be doubled up at first. He's grounded into two double plays this season in 272 plate appearances.
Manager Ron Gardenhire said after the game that it wasn't a decision to bunt in that spot, but rather "an automatic."
"Well, we're losing. We're going to bunt them over and try to get runs in. We've got to get back in the ballgame. That's what you have to do. Danny has to be able to do those things. You want to play in this league, you're a leadoff hitter -- he can hit a home run, yes, and he's hitting .320, yes, but he's got to be able to bunt.
"He might bunt and get a base hit. So there is no decision there, that's an automatic, we're bunting him over with Danny Santana. He's got to do that to be able to stay and be a great player like we think he's going to be. And he knows that more than anybody, he's got to do that. That's the job that he's supposed to do."
I just can't agree with that logic. It would be nice for the Twins if Santana became a better bunter but that still is the wrong decision in that situation.
5. J.O. Berrios won't go to the Arizona Fall League, according to Terry Ryan. The 20-year-old has pitched well since his promotion to Double-A New Britain despite being young for the league.
In 29 innings for the Rock Cats, Berrios has 20 strikeouts and 9 walks and opponents are hitting .210 off him. He has a 1.03 WHIP and a 3.72 ERA. But with more than 125 combined innings on the season between all levels, Berrios will be "innings-ed out" by the end of the year, Ryan said, and thus will skip the Fall League.
That's a fair decision to make with somebody his age, who has done well even to make it to Double-A so early let alone hold his own at the level.
"He's made a lot of progress," Ryan said. "He might knock on that door [to the Major Leagues in 2015]. He's got pitches, he's athletic, he's got makeup, he's a worker, he's a good teammate, he commands some of those pitches that you're looking at."
Additional listening: If you like baseball but sometimes worry about its future popularity, we feel you. A couple of baseball fans sat down for the latest Sports Over Beers podcast episode to hash out some of the problems facing MLB and to introduce some radical solutions. You can listen here.