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Cubs 3, Twins 0: Joe Ryan’s strong debut marred by sputtering offense

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The offense continues to struggle, but Joe Ryan!

MLB: Chicago Cubs at Minnesota Twins
Joe Ryan was impressive in his MLB debut.
Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Twins trotted out rookie Joe Ryan for his major-league debut on Wednesday night, and it went entirely according to plan. At least as far as his role was concerned.

The offense, on the other hand, followed up a one-run performance with a zero-run performance, and that was, unfortunately, the story of the game.

Ryan was great, getting out of the first inning on just eight pitches — all eight strikes — including his first career strikeout. He followed that up with a three-up, three-down second inning before running into trouble in the third.

The rookie walked Alfonso Rivas on five pitches to lead off the inning. Then he struck out Sergio Alcantara before giving up a double to Andrew Romine. Ryan got Rafael Ortego to fly out, but before he could get out of the inning, he spun a 90-mile-per-hour fastball up and in to Frank Schwindel, who whacked it into the left-field bleachers for a three-run homer.

At this point in the game, the Twins hadn’t even gotten their first hit. That didn’t come until Brent Rooker got a two-out single with Josh Donaldson on first following a walk. Representing the tying run, Ryan Jeffers grounded into a force-out to end the threat.

After Ryan's tough third inning, he retired the next six batters he faced and was pulled after five innings and 89 pitches.

The Twins only mustered one more base-runner the rest of the night, another single from Rooker. And while the bullpen was practically spotless, facing the minimum batters over the final four innings of the game, that was all the action of note for this one as the Twins spoiled an impressive debut.

Notes

  • Ryan displayed his ability to be deceptive and pitch up in the zone with effectiveness despite modest velocity. There seemed to be some similarities to Jake Odorizzi, but don’t hold me to that until I see him pitch again.
  • The Twins faced a pitcher who had a 6.39 ERA as a starter and only managed a single hit over five innings. The second Cubs pitcher to hit the mound came into the game with a 5.16 ERA in 21 starts and had not pitched out of the bullpen all season. He shut down the Twins, giving up just one hit while striking out five batters and not allowing a single walk over four innings.
  • Brent Rooker came into the game hitting just .189 and provided the Twins’ only two hits of the night.
  • The bullpen was great, as Ian Gibaut, Danny Coulombe, and Juan Minaya combined to throw four innings with just one hit, no walks, and two strikeouts while facing the minimum.

Studs

  • Joe Ryan: 5 IP, 3 ER, 3 H, 5 K, BB
  • Twins Bullpen: 4 IP, 0 R, H, 2 K
  • Brent Rooker: 2-for-2, HBP

Duds

  • Everyone that wasn’t a stud

Roll Call