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Game 33: Guardians at Twins

Minnesota tries to right its ship against a team that finally righted its name.

Cleveland Indians v Minnesota Twins
Be like Jimmers and smile.
Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/Getty Images

Time: 7:10 Central

Weather: Sunny, calm, 75° at first pitch, stop weather grousing

Opponent’s SB site: Covering The Corner

TV: BS North. Radio: Less BEEP BEEP BEEPs than on Wednesday

As y’all know, the Twins’ early division lead (still standing!) was based largely on the surprising success of their starting pitching. As y’all know, (and, likely, y’all never say “y’all” in conversation), this success has had some hiccups of late. Dylan Bundy turned back into a pumpkin, Chris Paddack and Bailey Ober got hurt, while rooksters Joe Ryan and Josh Winder faced the usual rookster inconsistencies.

So, it’s up to previously hurt, recently reinstated “big name acquisition” Sonny Gray to stop the mini-schlump. (Especially after yesterday’s 16 innings that’ll make most of the bullpen unavailable today; Duran, Smith, Jax and Emilio “AAAARGH” Pagan should all be good to go.) Gray only lasted four innings against his former team last Saturday, yet they were effective ones. He never played for Cleveland.

Pegged as Cleveland’s #2 starter coming into the season, 24-year-old righthander Aaron Civale has struggled a bit so far in 2022. He throws a low-90s four-seamer, splitter, cutter/slider and mixes in the curve. It’s the cutter/slider that’s given him the most trouble this year; it’s sliding more and cutting less and hitters are having an easier time laying off it out of the zone. Digits (career for both, no need to pick on Civale with numbers, let’s hope the Twins do it with bats):

Per BRef, 15 players answering to “Sonny” have reached the major leagues. The most successful was pitcher Wilfred Charles “Sonny” Siebert, a two-time All-Star who played for several teams, including Cleveland when they were mediocre in the 1960s. Probably the least successful was Bert “Sonny” Hogg, who pinch-ran in two games for the Dodgers in 1934. He did not score in either, and was out on his only plate appearance. In the first game, he entered during inning 16; in the second game, Brooklyn lost 6-16.

Of all the Sonnys, only two were actually given that name by their parents; the first, Sonny Collins, pitched five games for the Philadelphia Bacharach Giants in 1934 (banner year for Sonnys). The Bacharach Giants, if you’re wondering, were a independent-league team originally from Jacksonville that moved to Atlantic City in 1916 and named themselves after that city’s mayor. (The mayor was probably dirty as hell, as he ended up a minor character in Boardwalk Empire.) They joined the Negro National League in 1920, and lost in the World Series twice. The team later disbanded and was briefly recreated in Philadelphia, hence the name.

Today’s Mr. Gray is the only other Sonny truly named Sonny. His nickname is “Pickles.” Gray is not sure how he got that name in Oakland, suspecting it’s because he often wore the A’s alternate green jerseys. Per that link, “Gray acknowledges that he does enjoy eating pickles, though he would not list it as one of his favorite foods.” That link also has the joke, “what’s the dill,” as in “what’s the deal” with how he got his nickname. Sometimes I just don’t find much for game intros.

Today's Lineups

Myles Straw - CF Byron Buxton - CF
Steven Kwan - LF Luis Arraez - 1B
Jose Ramirez - 3B Jorge Polanco - 2B
Owen Miller - 1B Max Kepler - RF
Amed Rosario - SS Gary Sanchez - DH
Franmil Reyes - DH Gio Urshela - 3B
Andres Gimenez - 2B Nick Gordon - LF
Oscar Mercado - RF Ryan Jeffers - C
Austin Hedges - C Royce Lewis - SS
Aaron Civale - RHP Pickles Gray - RHP