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Twins 2, A’s 1: Night of the living rookies

Early-career milestones for two hitters and a pitcher deliver a mostly stress-free close win... until the very end...

Oakland Athletics v Minnesota Twins
This is what we in service academies would call a “locked in” haircut.
Photo by David Berding/Getty Images

In his second MLB start, Josh Winder beats his own career strikeout high by 2 — while Jose Miranda and Royce Lewis reach important firsts. Inning-by-inning notes:

1: Oakland’s leadoff hitter, 1B Sheldon Neuse, has a funny name. It’s pronounced “noise.” He grounds out to Twins forever-prospect Lewis and Winder strikes out the next two. Scheduled A’s starter Cole Irvin couldn’t go today, so it’ll be brand-new rookie Zack Logue. Gladden pronounces his name “Lowghe.”

Gladden is wrong, it’s “Logue.” He walks Byron Buxton and gives up a shift single to Jorge Polanco, then gets an easy fly and two Ks of his own.

2: More name fun; 3B Kevin Smith. Like the filmmaker who made a movie about video-store clerks. I have not seen this movie; I saw one Smith directed in which Alanis Morrissette played God. Smith was in a documentary I caught recently called “The Last Blockbuster,” about the last Blockbuster store (in the half-chic, half-redneck town of Bend, OR). It’s a likeable movie.

With two outs, Steven Piscotty notches the A’s first hit, and steals off Gary Sanchez (it seems teams are doing that). He tries to go home on a Elvis Andrus single and Trevor Larnach throws him out by the length of a limo.

First home run for Miranda! 404, Ball Not Found, to left. Brandon comments “IN THE HEIGHTS,” which is good. Information-hungry Larnach dials 411 off the centerfield wall for a double, and is stranded there. (Not literally; he is able to walk back to the dugout after Out #3.) Twins 1-0

3: Winder gets strikeout #4, and Oakland almost gets hit #3 until Max Kepler dives to catch it. Gio Urshela whacks a one-out double for Minnesota and Logue nukes the next two Twins. It’s a true Rookie Battle: 16.1 MLB innings (Winder) vs. 1.1 (Logue).

4: Winder has two more strikeouts (now 6 total). Logue has fewer but is just as effective. Lewis is still looking for his first MLB hit — Atteberry says he “had all sorts of things he had to learn” as a rookie, and lists them:

“He had to find his locker” — I would call that Pretty Easy

“Learn the signs” — Harder, for me, presumably not for a longtime baseball player

“Learn the home run handshake” — Tricky. Apparently Lewis got it right on Miranda’s dong. That’s less tricky, they played together in the minors, so this doesn’t count, Atteberry!

5: Two more Winder whiffers. BUCK BOMB! 414 on this one (Milwaukee’s area code). Logue up to 90 pitches, so he’s probably done, but I’d say this is a solid first-ever start for the 26-year-old. Minnesota 2-0

6: Cristian Pache breaks Winder’s streak of nine straight sent down. On a Neuse grounder, Jorge Polanco tries starting a one-out double play before he actually has the ball, and as a result, Oakland has runners on first and third. Pache scores on a Jed Lowrie fly that Gilberto Celestino dives to catch. Neuse is actually thrown out by Sanchez on a steal attempt (Sanchez threw out 17% of thieves last year, 14% for 2022 coming into this game).

New funny name is lefty reliever A.J. Puk, unfortunately pronounced “puck.” He does issue Miranda a four-pitch, one-out walk, but stops all the lefties he faces, as per his job description. Twims 2-1

7: Winder is out after 80 pitches (is that the new 100 for Baldelli?) Ancient wizened 38-year-old former Timberwolf and religious founder Joe Smith sits down three batters on six (6) pitches.

With a new RHP in, Rocco elects not to use recently-reinstated Alex Kirilloff as a pinch-hitter for Celestino; this faith is rewarded with a single. Polanco takes a one-out walk, yet Minnesota doesn’t score; they’ve gone 0-9 with RISP.

8: Tyler Duffey, WHYYYYYY? Because I’m not a baseball manager, that’s why. He quiets the A’s quickly, with help from Lewis on a tricky first out. Lewis follows this with his first MLB hit off a “Kirby” Snead (isn’t that Twins sacrilege?) Larnach singles him to second, than PGA veteran Lou Trivino putts Celestino down to make the RISP LOB 0-10.

9: It’s His Dark Materials, Emilio Pagan, for the save opportunity (as Jhoan Duran is Lonely In Your Nightmare after getting whomped in his last outing). Tony Kemp (who came in following Piscotty’s out at home, hope he’s not hurt) strikes out. Neuse singles. Lowrie walks.

This is the Pagan we know and fear.

Walks Sean Murphy to load them up. Good grief, Pagan.

Seth Brown dribbles a bocce-ball grounder down the line to Miranda, who charges it and throws out Neuse at home.

Of course Pagan goes to a 3-2 count on Chad Pinder.

STRIKEOUT PAGAN IS THE GREATEST I NEVER DOUBTED HIM! No duds, Twins win!

Studs, of course, are rookies Winder, Miranda, and Lewis. Sorry, Buxton, you’re yesterday’s news.

COTG goes to mikecardii for “Listen I would love the stress-free experience of P̴̠͖̓̕͘ả̸͜͝g̸͔̩̈́ä̵̡̉̈́n̵̳͋p̵̼͂̿̕ drawing his summoning circle in the mound and summoning a strikeout fae....... But Buxton is at the top of the order at the bottom of the inning and I also want a classic Buxton walkoff.” This is Evil, as I am Tired, yet it turned out that mike has no Dark Magicks, only the Light, and we were not jinxed. (Close, though!)

It’s 1:10 games for the rest of the weekend, with the relaxing CBD pitching tomorrow. Sorry, I meant the unannounced TBD. Weather should be relaxing, at least!

(Update: it'll be Sonny Gray, who had been scheduled for a rehab start in Saint Paul.)