Five shutout innings from rookie Bailey Ober, in his third start against a White Sox team that he struggled against the first two times out, made it look like the Twins might cruise to victory today. The young starter kicked the game off in style, getting three swinging strikeouts to retire the side in order in the top of the first. It wouldn’t be all smooth sailing for him, as he did have to escape a couple of jams, but he was able to wiggle out of trouble in the fourth and fifth innings to exit with the Sox still scoreless. Ober’s seven strikeouts vs. three walks and two hits was just the kick the Twins needed to defeat the south-siders for only the second time this season. However, it’s just never that easy for the Twins in 2021.
When Ober left the game after the fifth inning, the Twins held a 3-0 lead, as Maximilian Kepler-Różycki drew first blood with his first bomb, a two-run shot, into the right field stands in the second inning. In the third, a walk to Andrelton Simmons and singles by Luis Arraez and Trevor Larnach resulted in the Twins’ third run. Neither team scored in the fifth, and then came the Minnesota bullpen in the sixth.
First out of the ‘pen today was Meat Raffle himself, Caleb Thielbar. The left-hander responded by immediately giving up a solo shot to Sox slugger Jose Abreu, before settling down and striking out the side. Luckily, the Twins responded with three more runs of their own in the sixth. Sox starter Dylan Cease really lost his way in this inning, hitting Alex Kirilloff with a pitch, allowing him to advance to 2nd base on a wild pitch, and walking Max Kepler to start the inning. After getting Miguel Sano to strikeout, beloved rookie Nick Gordon hit his first career triple to score Kirilloff and Kepler. He would score on a passed ball later in the inning.
The score now 6-1 in the 7th inning, Rocco trotted Meat Raffle out for a second inning. This would turn out to be a poor choice, as the 7-8-9 batters for Chicago hit two doubles and a single, resulting in two runs. Tyler Duffey then replaced Thielbar, but thought to himself, “Hey, this giving up runs thing looks fun”, and proceeded to walk Tim Anderson and give up a triple to Yoan Moncada, scoring two more. The only reason the inning didn’t spiral even more out of control was because of Moncada’s bone-headed TOOTBLAN, trying to score from third with no outs on a bouncer to third base. Arraez and Rortvedt executed a relatively easy play to nail him at home. That, however, would be the end of Duffey’s night, and along came Mr. Rogers. Taylor was in peak form tonight, facing 6 batters (2 in the 7th, 4 in the 8th), and striking out four. Only one reached, on an error by Arraez.
The score now 6-5, the Twins were badly in need of some insurance runs going into the 9th inning, with Rogers’ night likely done. Thankfully, Maximilian’s night was not done. Facing Ryan Burr, who had not allowed a run in 14 innings to start the year, Mr. Kepler sent his second bomb of the evening into the flower boxes in left field - a rare occurrence for the pull-happy lefty. The Twins would tack on their 8th and final run Piranha-style, on a safety squeeze by Simmons that Burr curiously threw to first base, allowing Miguel Sano to score. The Twins would end up leaving the bases loaded.
Enter Hansel Robles. With the top of the order up, Robles was given the 9th, in spite of his recent struggles, and threw four straight balls to the first batter he faced. However, he was able to settle down following a mound visit, and get a fielder’s choice groundball from Yoan Moncada. Jose Abreu singled, bringing the tying run to the plate, but Billy Hamilton’s grounder to third base allowed for an easy double-play, with Arraez stepping on third and throwing to first to end the game.
Bailey Ober: 5.0 IP, 2 H, 3 BB, 7 K’s, First career win
Taylor Rogers: 1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 BB, 4 K’s
Max Kepler: 2-3, 3 R, 3 RBI, 1 BB, 1 SO, 2 HR
I’d also like to congratulate myself for making no “Ober” puns in this recap.
Haven’t said this in awhile, so what the heck:
NO DUDS TWINS WIN!!!!!
ROBOT ROLL CALL: