In the first inning of this innocent-seeming game, the Twins forced Washington's Tanner Roark to throw over 20 pitches. Then Phil Hughes gave up a single to Anthony Rendon, a double to Bryce Harper, a single to Ryan Zimmerman, and the game was over.
What did I get wrong this time? Games don't end in the first inning? Um . . . okay, if you're sure.
Because Roark struck out 15 Twins in 7 innings (only three guys have ever struck out more Twins in a game: Rudy May once, and Nolan Ryan/Luis Tiant twice each.) The Nationals bullpen added three more Ks in two scoreless innings. That's two for every Twins starter (save Rosario, with 1, and Sano, with 3.)
No knock against Roark, who I mentioned in the preview as seeming like a nice enough guy, but this was pathetic. It's the equivalent of striking out 15 times against Terry Mulholland. Roark is a borderline 5th starter/long man. His two-seamer was moving unpredictably today, and no doubt that bothered Twins hitters. Still. C'mon, guys. 15 Ks. Two hits -- and none after the second inning.
Phil Hughes managed to avoid falling further in the well, escaping runner-on-third-with-one-out situations in the fifth and sixth (while striking out only two Nats in seven innings.) It didn't matter. He could have been Walter Johnson today and the Twins hitters would have lost this one.
In other news: Miguel Sano started at third base, as Paul Molitor wanted to fit some extra lefties in the outfield. (Didn't help.) Sano booted no plays and made this nice barehanded pickup/throw.
After the game, the Twins sent Jorge Polanco back to the minors and called up Tyler Duffey, who will start tomorrow in place of Ervin Santana (sore back) against ace Stephen Strasburg. Santana is not expected to go on the DL. (So they say, so they say.) Danny Santana is eligible to be activated Monday, so it'd be surprising if Duffey gets more than this start for now.
Robot Roll Call: