Here are some thoughts following the Twins' 10-4 loss to the Yankees on Friday in Game 1 of the ALDS:
Bad start by Berrios: Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said the following about Jose Berrios on Friday: "Overall, I thought Jose threw the ball pretty well. I think he pitched with his fastball pretty well."
"His breaking ball kind of came and went, but I think he was able to work through a few situations and do it pretty well. We didn't make all the plays behind him. It did make it tough. We had to get some extra outs. We had to throw a lot more pitches. So he did have to work because of it and probably shortened the outing a little bit, which caused us to have to go to the pen and have to cover some more innings. So it's all related. But overall, again, I think he competed well, kept us in the game, and certainly gave us a chance. Having to pitch through those instances that you mentioned, I think he did it reasonably well."
My take was a little different. Throwing 88 pitches in four innings is less than pretty well. The defense let him down in the third but he labored through long encounters against a relentless Yankee lineup. Now we see why Aaron Boone calls them savages. Berrios has the stuff to miss bats, the six strikeouts show that. His risk-adverse mindset was a little concerning to me.
Berrios said that he didn't want to leave anything up in the zone to get hammered, and catcher Mitch Garver said they just couldn't get New York hitters to chase his stuff that was off the plate.
It makes you wonder how the Twins are approaching the Yankees in this series. If they can steal a game Saturday will they pitch them differently at Target Field? Will they have Randy Dobnak be careful with them as well? He needs hitters to put the ball play. Saturday's game will be interesting from that standpoint.
Baldelli's bullpen brigade: Noticed on Twitter that many disagreed with every bullpen decision Rocco made on Friday. I was fine with Zack Littell's appearance, based on how strong he finished the regular season. But he looked overwhelmed out there on Friday. "The bottom line -- there's a million things I could say right now, but I just didn't execute is the bottom line," Littell said. "I didn't throw the ball over the plate. Tough to beat people when you don't really give it the chance. "
Littell didn't retire a batter, and Tyler Duffey came in to try to clean up his mess, which didn't work out well. Cody Shashak, whose parents drove over from New Jersey to watch the game, followed Duffey and gave up two home runs. I would have liked to have seen Trevor May or even Brusdar Graterol there. To have issues with every bullpen decision is the classic second guess when it doesn't work out.
Baldelli said after the game that he'll probably have to use some of his eighth and ninth inning guys earlier tomorrow if needed. "We don't generally commit to anything early, but I think there's a chance that we end up running some of our guys that have pitched very late in the game. We could run them out there, probably still reasonably late in the game, but maybe push them up a little bit. Again, with the five innings we're going to cover out of the bullpen tonight, we could have seen -- we could have ended up seeing something like that. So that is definitely possible."
May, Sergio Romo and Taylor Rogers will likely be called upon tomorrow as the Twins try to even up the series at 1-1.
About Arraez: I would just like to point out that his sprint speed comparisons for Luis Arraez between.Friday and the regular season did not show much of a difference. He didn't look like he was laboring on that ankle. He's not that fast to begin with. I thought he looked fine while legging out a double in the fifth. The only time he seemed to struggle was when he slammed on the brakes at the end of the double and returned to second. That's when it looked like he was limping a little. I don't think you can totally blame Arraez for the missed popup to short right field or on the double play that wasn't. He might have gotten a bad jump on the pop fly.
Baldelli said after the game that, physically, Arraez was fine. We’ll see when the lineups are released before Saturday’s game.
About Saturday’s game: The will have to get after righthander Masahiro Tanaka, who is 3-2 with a 1.50 ERA in the postseason. Getting ahead in the count will help their chances, as Tanaka throws breaking pitches more than his fastballs. If he gets ahead in the count, they will see splitters and sliders coming at them that will dart out of the strike zone.
If Tanaka is not on, he can give up the long ball. But he has a 3.10 ERA at home this season as opposed to 6.05 on the road. He will be comfortable, pitching with his team leading 1-0 in the series and will be a tough nut to crack.