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Game 54: Twins at Blue Jays

A journeyman AAAA starter is called up to stop Minnesota’s skid. Oh, and end Toronto’s very hot streak.

Colorado Rockies v Los Angeles Dodgers
This is not González ’s Saints uniform.
Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Time: 6:07 Central

Weather: Sunny, 21° at first pitch (x 9/5 + 32)

Opponent’s SB site: Bluebird Banter

TV: BS North. Radio: Today with a Perkins, but not at a Perkins

Following Sonny Gray’s entirely predictable placement on the IL yesterday, the Twins will be relying on 30-year-old Saints swingman Chi Chi González. (His nickname isn’t after the Puerto Rican PGA star Chi Chi Rodríguez, it’s just something his grandpa used to call him.) González throws the usual assortment of pitches, none especially hard or effectively, although he’s had the least disappointing results with his changeup.

His opposing moundee will be Yusei Kikuchi, also 30, a lefty (oh, great) who hails from Japanese baseball. (Apparently he had some hard choices to make coming out of high school about whether he should play in Japan or America — that whole international signing system seems rather crummy to me.) Kikuchi throws a 95-ish four-seamer, a slider, cutter, and splitter-change; its the 95 and splange which are his best pitches. Career digits:

Recently when playing Detroit, the Twins got to face Daz Cameron, whose dad Kirk Mike was a quality outfielder for over a decade, and Kody Clemens, whose dad Roger was sometimes the poster boy for roid rage.

So now it’s time for more of Jim Henson’s Baseball Babies! You’re all familiar with Vladimir Guerrero, Jr, whose dad was one of baseball’s greatest bad-ball hitters. You’ll also probably recognize the last name of Cavan Biggio, a light-hitting glove-first infielder with another HOF poppa. Maybe you’ll remember Bo Bichette’s dad Dante, a fine offensive player who benefited from a little power inflation at Coors Field. And while Lourdes Gurriel, Jr. didn’t have a dad in MLB, he and Astros brother Yuri are both Sons Of Lourdes, Sr., a fine international competitor from Cuba. (Both brothers defected in 2016.)

A Blue Jay last year and currently ChiSox backup catcher, Reese McGuire, is no relation to non-ragey (but definitely roid-y) Mark McGwire – if the spelling isn’t a clue. McGuire had something of an embarrassing Unwise Youngster Decision in 2020, picking up a misdemeanor for, uh, inapproprately displaying himself in his car in a Florida mall parking lot. It’s not clear what he was doing, so it wasn’t too bad, but such a thing could range from changing undies to having a private passion moment. Either of which I can totally buy young baseball players doing at the wrong time and thinking it’s normal because, let’s face it, minor-league male behavior is really weird.

No current Twins have baseball dads (that I know of), although Dereck Rodriguez is still chasing the dream in St. Paul. And we often seem to see Sweet Drew Butera around from time to time. Well, we can always hope for Britton Buxton (here slugging a T-ball bomba) to make the team in about 15 years.

Today's Lineups

TWINS BLUE JAYS
Byron Buxton - CF George Springer - CF
Jorge Polanco - 2B Bo Bichette - SS
Kyle Garlick - LF Vladimir Guerrero - 1B
Gary Sanchez - DH Teoscar Hernandez - DH
Gio Urshela - 3B Danny Jansen - C
Jose Miranda - 1B Raimel Tapia - RF
Trevor Larnach - RF Lourdes Gurriel - LF
Ryan Jeffers - C Santiago Espinal - 3B
Jermaine Palacios - SS Cavan Biggio - 2B
Chi Chi Gonzalez - RHP Yusei Kikuchi - LHP

Incidentally, your four Twins players unable to enter Canada for vaccination reasons are Max Kepler (could probably use the injury recovery time), Caleb Thielbar (good when good), Trevor Megill (has had some effectiveness as a multiple-innings arm), and His Dark Materials, Emilio Pagán. Do-Hyong Park has the details here.

Also, I always like to end a Toronto preview with another one of my favorite cheesy original team songs, “OK Blue Jays” (or whatever the title actually is). It’s dorky but everyone in Toronto sings along to the fun chorus: