In late 2013, slow-thrower (by MLB standards) Andrew Albers added some interest to a deadly dull season by debuting with 8.1 scoreless, then pitching a complete-game shutout.
It wouldn’t last for him with the Twins or elsewhere, but the team brought him back this year to provide some Crash Davis wisdom in Saint Paul. Tonight, he was professional as ever, and Minnesota got the win on a night that threatened rain but ended up perfectly pleasant for Twins and road-tripping Brewers fans alike.
Byron Buxton returned from the IL (yay!) yet looked rusty at the plate (boo!), although most of the Twins offense was silent tonight. Oh, yeah, and a 2-0 game went almost three-and-a-half hours, which is different.
This recap goes off the rails fairly quickly, as I didn’t have a lot to say about the game, out of an odd place of stress relief: it's really looking like the next few days should be easy to manage, with everything I need to get done very doable. That's unsual for me as of late. So, forgive what you don't like, or skip it, or write my name on your least favorite Twins cap and set it on fire. (Outdoors, preferably.) Inning-by-inning notes:
1: Albers keeps Milwaukee scoreless with his Veteran Savvy; AKA, have decent control, don’t walk a lot of guys, don’t give them meatballs to pound. He’s still topping out at 88 or so. Eventually BABIP logic will catch up with you (this is why Albers never lasted in the bigs), but it’s good enough to eat garbage innings.
The Twims score because Rob Refsnyder does his best Punto impersonation and dives into first (while racing into base with the pitcher covering; this is actually a REAL reason to slide into first, since you can avoid a tag that way, otherwise it’s just slowing you down), before Donaldson line-drives a dong. Thanks, Josh, for showing us that Competitive Fire and Team Leadership — who ever said he wouldn’t be clutch late in the season?
Incidentally, Byron Buxton, back from 400 days on the IL, leads off and swings/misses on three pitches. So he’s broken. Refsnyder is batting third, so he’s your star, now. Twins 2-0
2: Radio mentioned that Albers walked nine hitters in 90-odd innings in Saint Paul; for Statistics Nerds, that’s a BB/9 number of Good. The Twins load them bases with one out (Buxton walks, still broken) but Polanco and Refsnyder both strike out, so You Don’t Have Any Stars, Ever Again
3: We attempt to have some mild silliness in the gamethread about the secret life of Milwaukee player Rowdy Tellez, the guy who shuts down small-town Milwaukee bars. I go on for a bit about Rowdy’s character and nobody joins except Blake Donlon. Apparently, you folks are too kind to engage in cruel white-trash stereotypes and this is a mark of your quality character. I’m impressed! In my defense, though, I was referencing a specific kind of bad-boy MEAN white-trash guy, the kind who’s a danger to himself and others. I’m white trash, the geeky nerdy poor kind. Those mean ones spooked me out. And I knew a few...
4: What was that fool saying about BABIP coming back to bite ya? Milwaukee loads ‘em up with two outs and of course Albers masterfully dials it up to eleven to get... a hard-hit groundout. True Masters can guide the course of balls in play with THEIR MINDS
Herr Maximillian von Kepler leads off with a double but nothing happens, ending with a Buxton flyout because He’s Broken Forever, I tell you
5: Albers keeps BABIPping, the Twins keep offensively zilch-ing. After a two-out walk to Josh Donaldson, whose Danger Level of making it home on a ball in the gap is that of my dog I don’t own pooping in the open top of a convertible I’ll never buy, Brewers manager Craig Counsell subs out Eric Lauer for the only thing more Kryptonite than lefthanded pitching to Miguel Sano this season; a righty who throws sliders. Three of them, three swings, adios petolero.
6: Albers gets one out and is yanked for onetime “high leverage” Reliever Of The Future Jorge Alcala, who promptly gives up a double, exciting the Brewers fans who drove here. Alcala escapes untarnished. Visit the dang Fair, Wisconsin people, locals seem agog over it. Here’s where I do one of my “I’m not from here” things; I don’t get it. I won’t knock anybody’s thing, especially not something as basically harmless as a fair (well, harmless in less contagious times), but I know all kinds of folks who specifically have to try every New Fair Food every year and it all tastes to me like “meh.”
I mean, we have stores. You have old recipe books lying around, or you can look online for recipes; why not try, maybe, making something new if you really really want something new? It’ll have just as high of an “I love it” success rate. It’ll be cheaper. And, if you do love it, you’ll know how to make it again. Anyhoo, I’m not from here, that’s my take on The Fair.
Kepler gets a one-out single for Minnesota and steals second; he gets to third on an infield single and then Buxton goes down on three pitches because HE’LL NEVER BE RIGHT AGAIN
7: The gamethread becomes a discussion about Horses, which I guess is Fair-appropriate. Zero goes on which matters baseball-wise. I’ll tell you a Scary White Trash story:
This one job, my trainer, my first day, first thing he does is show me a nude pic on his phone of his girlfriend. No face, just torso and crotch. “What you do think?” “Um, she looks pretty.” It was a driving job, and this guy was showing me how to drive to the assigned locations, in between calls to his ex-girlfriend where he screamed “don’t you BLEEPING touch my stuff until I get there to pick it up YOU BLEEP” and such, which he’d do while yanking curves at 65 miles an hour in residential Edina.
You see, you got paid better the quicker you reached sites, and completed the job, so it was important to do them fast. The job? Locating underground natural-gas lines for construction digs. The kind of thing which, you’d hope, miiiight benefit from going a bit slower and making sure you were absolutely correct before declaring “f**k it” and spraying yellow paint on the ground to mark that gas line because “it’s not my house.”
Yeah, I didn’t last at that job.
8: Again, no baseball worth mentioning (Avisail Garcia gets ejected for being a Whiny Turd over a third-strike call, which he was probably right about, but dude, you don’t get snippy on umps over those), so here’s a better Scary White Trash story. Stick with me; I promise it’s worth your time.
So I was working graveyard cashier at a convenience-store/gas-station in Portland. Oregon is (or was, then, I dunno about now) one of the very few states where motorists can’t pump their own gas. These stores have a cashier and a gas station attendant on duty at all times. Graveyard being graveyard, it was often slow, and so the gas attendant would hang out and talk. Nothing wrong with that.
Except, he was the worst kind of Scary White Trash; a skinhead. He had all kinds of cryptic tattoos he could make into Nazi symbols by flexing his muscles just so. The guy never threatened me, but he wouldn’t shut up about his crazy skinhead stuff; the evil Blacks, Jews, and immigrants. I’d try to change the subject, like, “wow, people really made a run on Budweiser tonight” after stocking the cooler, and he’d be “you know what Budweiser reminds me of? The Blacks and the Jews and the Immigrants!” It was awful.
One night, this guy was sick, he had a horrible tooth infection, so he couldn’t pump gas. (Take a sick day? Stay home? Forget about it at a job like that! You show up, you collapse in a corner and moan in pain.) So I had to run the register and stock the shelves and pump the gas.
One driver at some point asked me why I was slow getting to her car. I explained, the gas guy’s sick, he can’t do it. “I’m a nurse,” she said, “let me see if I can help.”
So she goes in, looks at the guy. “Pleede, pleede, my mowwf,” he begs her. She scours the shelves, finds some various painkillers that can help, wraps soda-machine ice in a towel for him to press on his face. Pays for the pills herself. “And you are going to the dentist tomorrow,” she tells him. “Yebb, ma’am, fammk you, fammk you,” he whimpers, weeping.
As she leaves, I walk out with her. I thank her for being kind, but mention, “um, that guy’s a total skinhead.” (Oh, did I mention — the nurse was Black, and looked like she may have come from foreign shores.)
“Oh, hell ya,” she said. “I could tell by his tattoos. But I can’t stop being a nurse! Ask my kids!"
What was the name of the hospital she worked at? It was named Good Samaritan.
I told you it was a good story.
9: ACE time! (Not that this matters either, but I feel bound by some semi-professional amateur sense of obligation to report at least the ninth inning.) He gets the first Brewer out on bad umping, Rowdy Tellez out because his head was all up his new tricked-out Polaris, and the last guy on lucky BABIP. Worked tonight! Twims wim! Robot Roll Call:
COTG goes to gintzer for “The guy’s twirling a three hit shutout, 88 pitches. Why, just why?” vis-a-vis Albers getting pulled (if you couldn’t tell that). And as norff pointed out, Albers isn’t that good, take the successful innings, don’t push it. However, I agree with gintzer here, not because I really care if the Twins win anything at this point, but because the analytics-based approach Baldelli was hired for really goes out the window when you’ve got emergency backups-to-emergency backups both starting and relieving.
gintzer, your prize is I changed the photo caption of the game thread just for you! First time I’ve ever given a prize! Anyhoo, folks, check back tomorrow for Charlie “Not Parr” Barnes against the Brew Crew at 6:10 local, and don’t eat anything on a stick you wouldn’t eat without one.