Sonny Gray doesn’t exactly stabilize things for Minnesota’s wobbling pitching staff, but a statistically improbable mega-rally ends the Twins’ losing streak. Inning-by-inning notes:
1: Last Friday’s six-inning start by Josh Winder was the last time any Twins starter went longer than four innings. Gray doesn’t immediately give you hope that streak will end, walking Myles “Real Name” Straw on five pitches. Straw eventually steals second, bringing Minnesota’s “SB allowed/SB taken” ratio to ∞, yet Gray escapes.
Dong on dong action from Byron Buxton and Jorge Polanco! It actually feels like a shame the Twins don’t get any more here, as both Max Kepler and Gary Sanchez reach via screaming liners to dance on second and third. Alas, Gio Urshela’s screaming liner is barely caught, and Nick Gordon whiffs, ending the Scoring Chance.
Radio says 10 of 23 runs against Aaron Civale this season came in the Radke inning, so hopefully this isn’t it for the Twins 2-0
2: Much easier 1-2-3 for Gray. Pretty easy 1-2-3 for Civale, although several balls are hit very hard; Twins getting baBIPped a bit.
3: No baBIPping for Gray to start here, as he loads the bases on a sharp grounder and two straight walks (another to Straw). Steven Kwan, hitting .444 with RISP, strikes out, Jose Ramirez hits a grounder too softly for a DP, and Owen Miller whiffs to get Gray out of it at a high (for three frames) 52 pitch count. Civale is looking better each inning against Twins hitters, and so the score’s Minnesota 2-1
4: Gray gives up a leadoff smacker and nothing else; he’s now got seven strikeouts and 67 pitches, so he’ll get Twins starters past that 4.0 mark today (if he gets at least one out next inning, that is). Civale sets down his 9th, 10th, and 11th straight Twins without consulting his astrologer, therapist, or priest.
5: Yes, Gray lasts longer than 4.0 innings. Not by much. 29-year-old glove-first catcher Austin Hedges, hitting .193 since his 2015 rookie season and .169 this year, bombs one. Gray gets Straw out, walks Kwan, and gives up what’s ruled a hit to Ramirez (could have been called an error by Luis Arraez at 1B). In comes Griffin Jax, USAF, who quickly induces a double play.
IT’S A TRAP! Ryan Jeffers singles, and Royce Lewis hits a near-dong long & hard. A Civale walk to Buxton loads them for Arraez, who GIDPs. Jorge Polanco walks, and acting manager Carl Willis (Francona has COVID) leaves Civale in. Willis kinda is proven right AND wrong. Civale breaks Max Kepler’s bat with a high inside cutter, resulting in what would be an easy out were Cleveland not using an extreme shift. Jeffers scores. Reliable veteran Brian Shaw replaces Civale. And Sanchez goes Major Ballbara on Shaw for the two-out bomb.
Heartbreak House ain’t over for Shaw, though! Let’s have an Urshela single, Nick Gordon single, Ryan Jeffers walk, and Royce Lewis with this:
All told, seven straight Twins reached base with two outs, making the score Senators 11-2
6: Provus mentions the last time a Twins rookie hit a grand salami for his first career homer; it was Danny Valencia. Gladden calls the Guardians the “Indians” for what, is my count, the third time tonight. He also explains who Wally Pipp is, for any baseball-on-the-radio-fans that don’t know, whom I don’t believe number many.
Amisdt the fun banter, Jax serves up a two-run homer to Oscar Mercado after Minnesota fails to turn an inning-ending double-play. Twins get kinda some stuff going and don’t score. Spiders down 4-11
7: Jax is left in to save some wear on the bullpen, who pitched about 300 guys yesterday. Despite being very effective this year, he’s “wearing it” (as they say) tonight, tagged on a Ramirez RBI and Amez Rosario triple. He doesn’t get to face Mercado again; Joe Smith does, and gets the surprisingly-needed K. Superior to Erie 11-6
8: Jhoan Duran is in, probably just to get some work, as he hasn’t pitched since last Saturday. He makes a throwing boo-boo on defense, and otherwise seems no worse the wear for rest, only throwing 10 pitches.
Normally, it wouldn’t be an “insurance run” when you’re up by five with the opponent only getting one more inning to bat. But we’ll still call it that with how depleted the Twins’ bullpen is. Bux walks, Arraez is HBP (courtesy of someone named Sam Hentges, whom mikecardii informs us is from Shoreview, MN). Polanco moves them over, Kepler SFs Bux in, Minnesota leads 12-6
9: Time for His Dark Materials, Emilio Pagan. Naturally, he slops into a two-run homer by Andres Gimenez (knocking in a runner gifted by earlier superhero Lewis’s error). Pagan junkballs a strikeout to end it. Twins win, big and ugly!
COTG goes to sandwiches for trying to maintain a silly game intro thing, Wannabe525 for informing us about Captain Cook’s untimely end, and Inthebasenent for this vote on Cleveland’s name change: “‘I was pulling for “Clevelanders” as a tip of the hat to the Winnipeg “Winnipegers” in the still mysterious CFL days of olde.’” Bonus COTG for everyone who had fun on the thread during that weird two-out Twins barrage.
Tomorrow’s game at 6:10 should also have good weather, and will feature boy-band star Shane Bieber against the recalled Devin Smeltzer.