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Cubs 1, Twins 0: Hendricks beats Hill in total snoozefest/“pitching duel”

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Twins offensive futility wasted Rich Hill’s excellent start and 2:34 of your life.

Minnesota Twins v Chicago Cubs
not so fast, Jake
Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images

Well, we’ve got ourselves a Good News/Bad News situation, here. Good news: Rich Hill pitched his best start as a Twin. Bad news: the offense is still broken. Good news: the White Sox lost, so it’s mathematically still possible for Minnesota to win the division. Bad news: they won’t. Good news: this turdburger was over quickly.

Hill, who has allowed generous numbers of baserunners in 2020, continued his giftgiving ways by walking Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant to start tonight’s game. A Willson Contreras single scored Rizzo and sent Bryant to third, making it look like a very short outing for Hill might be brewing. But a grounder to Josh Donaldson was read very strangely by Bryant; the two did some sort of mesmerism on each other for a split second before Bryant flinched towards home and Donaldson tagged him out. Then K and popout, no more damage. 27 pitches for Hill, Cubs up 1-0.

Yet something about that sequence worked on Hill, who’d only allow two more singles and throw 68 more pitches in the following six innings. He stranded both runners, one with assistance from your WeIrD pLaY oF tHe NiGhT: with two out and one on in the third, Hill appeared to hit Kyle Schwarber in the arm. However, Greatest Umpire Of All Time Angel Hernandez ruled that Schwarber leaned into the pitch (nobody watching the game agreed, but whatever) and said it was a ball. Hill then struck him out.

It doesn’t matter if you can’t score, though. Kyle Hendricks had his season-high strikeout total with 10; his previous high came in a complete game. After a Jake Cave single in the second (subsequently erased on Cave’s first steal attempt and first Caught Stealing of the year), none of the next 11 Twins batters did anything (12 was a bloop single from Byron Buxton, what Blyleven would have called a “duck fart.”)

Buxton led off for the first time this year and started with a single; Twins hitters told him “take your shoes off, we’re not going to hit s**t tonight” and didn’t. After that duck fart, he was the next Twin to reach, drawing a walk from Jeremy Jeffress to begin the ninth — Donaldson promptly GIDPeed. Nelson Cruz (he of 5-28 in his previous seven games) got another walk, which didn’t matter because Eddie Rosario became Twins striker outer number eleven.

Caleb Thielbar pitched a scoreless eighth, highlighted by two one-out walks and the Cubs bringing in fearsome pinch-hitter Ildemaro Vargas who struck out. Mitch Garver returned from injury and hit nothing; maybe he contributed to Hill’s nice game. Robot Roll Call:

COTG goes to CCHOF5yearstoo late for “hot mics with no fans in the stands is fun!” on the bizare Schwarber hit-in-the-arm-but-called-a-ball play. I didn’t hear anything untoward on radio, but maybe there was on TV.

Boy, I’ll bet ESPN is really thrilled they picked up Sunday night’s Twins game, aren’t they? Free lead-in for you network folks: use the phrase “their offense is basically Buxton and SucksTon right now.” If it’s not beneath me, it shouldn’t be beneath you.