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Twins 3, Cleveland 0: Joe Ryan? More like Nolan Ryan

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Joe Ryan threw 6 1⁄3 perfect innings in his second MLB start

MLB: Minnesota Twins at Cleveland Indians
That’s the face of an ace, is it not?
David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Guys and gals, I have a confession to make.

This 5 p.m. CT start time is rough. I figured I could go coach some flag football, get home, and get caught up on the game in plenty of time. No dice — Joe Ryan had other ideas.

In a game that finished in a blistering 2 hours and 23 minutes that I actually had time to go back and watch before writing this recap, the Twins’ newly-minted ace (yep, going there) tossed 6 13 perfect innings and seven innings of one-hit, no-walk ball in his second Major-League appearance.

If you’re scoring at home Nolan Joe Ryan has thrown 12 innings with the Twins and 10 of them have been absolutely, positively perfect. Crazy stuff.

Things didn’t start off great for the Twins, as Triston McKenzie struck out the side in the top of the first. But Ryan looked sharp as well, mostly dotting his modest fastball and snapping off an impressive breaking ball when needed.

He needed some help in the second inning, however, as Luis Arraez made an impressive pick behind third base and rocketed a throw over to Miguel Sano at first, who had to stretch and hit the dirt to save the out. Then, Bobby Bradley took Byron Buxton to the warning track on a deep fly ball. But that was easily Cleveland’s best inning swinging the bats all night.

Ryan was comfortable, confident, and in command. Despite only scattering four strikeouts, there were only two batters who earned three-ball counts, including an eight-pitch at-bat by Amed Rosario in the fourth. But Ryan didn’t allow a base-runner heading into the bottom of the seventh.

He entered the frame with just 74 pitches and got Andres Gimenez to bounce out to second base on his 77th pitch of the night. Then, on the second of back-to-back sliders to start the at-bat, Rosario slapped a single to left field to break up the perfect game.

Still, it was the only baserunner of the night for Cleveland, as Caleb Thielbar and Tyler Duffey combined to pitch two perfect innings with three strikeouts and zero baserunners.

The Twins didn’t do much offensively, either, gathering just two hits over the first four innings. But with two outs in the fifth, Rob Refsnyder drew a walk and stole second base. He scored on a double from Nick Gordon to break the tie.

Minnesota didn’t score again until Sano deposited a home run to deep center field in the seventh, doubling the Twins’ lead. In the eighth, a Ryan Jeffers double, Luis Arraez single, and a grounder from Buxton made it 3-0, which was the evening’s final score.

Notes

  • Joe Ryan is fun, and he’s really good. If he adds any velocity over the next couple of years, he’ll be downright filthy.
  • Buxton struck out in his first three at-bats, so it was nice to see him ground into an RBI force-out late in the game in an important spot.
  • Don’t look now, but the bullpen has pitched legitimately well over the last few weeks. Oh, what could have been.
  • A less positive “don’t look now” ... Rob Refsyder has turned back into a pumpkin.

Studs

  • Joe Ryan: 7 IP, H, 0 R, 4 K, 0 BB
  • Miguel Sano: 1-for-4, HR
  • Twins Bullpen: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 BB, 3 K

Duds

  • Nobody! Twins win! Twins win!

Roll Call