Things started swimmingly for the hometown nine. Rich Hill pitched for the first time exactly three weeks and showed no rust early, recording the first five outs on just nine total pitches.
In fact, the Twins even struck first. Miguel Sano pulled a double into the left field corner and scored on an Eddie Rosario single. Rosario was caught going only halfway on a failed hit-and-run with Ehire Adrianza at the plate and was tagged out for an inning-ending double play.
But after Hill cruised through 2 2⁄3 innings on 24 pitches, he issued a two-out walk to Orlando Arcia, the Brewers’ No. 9 hitter, and things immediately unraveled.
Ryan Braun hooked a two-run homer inside the left-field foul pole, Christian Yelich walked, Keston Hirua singled, and Jedd Gyorko walked while home plate umpire Ed Hickox’s strike zone became tighter as the inning wore on. Then, a two-run single from Avisail Garcia made it 4-1, and that was it for the man they call D. Mountain in his comeback appearance.
Caleb Thielbar came in, fresh off a heroic performance in the 10th inning of Tuesday night’s win and got a strikeout to finish the inning. He also faced the minimum in the fourth inning, giving hope that the Twins could hang around and come back to win, facing a modest three-run deficit when they came to the plate in the bottom of the fourth inning.
But as the Twins’ offense failed to get anything going against Brewers starter Brett Anderson, Lewis Thorpe fell apart in the top of the fifth. Milwaukee’s at-bats went as followed: single, home run, walk (then, mercifully, a caught stealing) walk, home run, line-out, double, walk, line-out.
While it looked like Thorpe wouldn’t (or perhaps, shouldn’t) have even gotten out of the top of the fifth, he stuck around for four full innings and didn’t surrender any additional runs.
The damage had been done, however, and the Twins couldn’t muster more than a single baserunner at a time until the ninth inning. With the score 9-1, Marwin Gonzalez hit a leadoff homer and the Twins followed that with pair of hits and a walk to make the final score appear slightly more respectable.
The highlight, however: Ehire Adrianza’s ninth-inning pitching appearance. While he gave up a leadoff home run to Keston Hiura and hit a batter on an 0-2 count, he threw the slowest pitch that I can recall recorded by a major-league radar gun: 58 miles per hour. Adrianza also induced a groundout and a pair of fly-ball outs to pitch a decent-enough inning.
- Hill looked really sharp until suddenly losing command of his fastball against Arcia. The strike zone shrunk inexplicably, and Hill couldn’t regain his composure. Hopefully he doesn’t suffer any additional fatigue or soreness after this one and can get back on the mound for his next turn.
- When the Twins are winning games 4-2 or 4-3, which they’ve done a fair amount of over the past week or so, it’s easy to ignore how much trouble the offense is having. But it’s a lot more glaring when they opposing team hangs an 8-spot. That said, there are plenty of factors to consider that should come back around. For one, the Twins’ batting average on balls in play (BABIP) heading into the game was just .269; league average is typically about .300, which is exactly what the Twins’ BABIP was in 2019.
- Mitch Garver was 1-for-3 with another pair of strikeouts and a sharp single in his second at-bat. However, he appeared to injure himself on a swing in his final at-bat and went down to one knee as he struck out, grabbing his right side. Alex Avila came into the game for Garver at that point, and while there was no update from the team by the end of the game, don’t be shocked to see a move featuring none other than La Tortuga, Willians Astudillo, prior to Thursday’s series finale. Especially with Luis Arraez out for likely another day or two with his knee issue, having another utility guy who can also catch would be a good thing.
- Caleb Thielbar: 1 1⁄3 IP, 0 H, BB, K
- Miguel Sano: 2-for-4, 2B, 2 R
- Ildemaro Vargas: 2-for-4, 2B, RBI, orchestrated an awesome double-play in the first inning
- Rich Hill: 2 2⁄3 IP, 4 ER 4 H, 3 BB, K
- Pre-ninth-inning Twins offense: 7-for-30, 5 singles, 2 2B, 8 K, 0 BB
Here’s hoping for a much better showing on Thursday and a series win...