Toronto came into this game winning eight in a row, and Minnesota had lost four of five to the sub-.500 Tigers. Toronto was starting veteran Yusei Kikuchi and his 3.48 ERA; the Twins were using a career AAAA pitcher sitting on 6.24 his past four seasons. With several players unavailable due to injury and/or vaccination avoidation, I would have bet hard money on the Twins getting stomped early.
But that’s why they play the games, as it’s said... and the Twins are better when Byron is better, as is certifiably true. Inning-by-inning notes:
1: You know the reason Kyle Garlick is often pinch-hit for when lefty starters come out of the game? It’s not for the spilts platoon with Trevor Larnach; it’s because Garlick, as befits his surname, is a Vampire Hunter, and the fell undead are strongest when the sun goes down later in night games. Anyhoo, Garlick plonks one off Nosferatu Kikuchi.
Perhaps secretly in league with the Night Walkers is Saints callup Chi Chi Gonzalez; he serves up a leadoff homer to George Springer and the tying run on a double + single. Gonazalez, though, should know from What We Do In The Shadows that vampires often welch on those promises to “make you” one of their own. So do mobsters, incidentally. Tied 2-2
2: Not content with simply falling into a trance and allowing Dracula’s spawn to have their way with his teammates, Jose Miranda shows his holy wooden cross (minus the crossing part, also rounded) and dings a dong.
Gonzalez settles down, or is facing the lesser half of Toronto’s lineup, or was told by Garlick & Miranda “we know what you’re up to, Renfield.” Twins 3-2
3: More Garlick! “Who cares if it makes my breath smell bad,” he says, “I’ve got no time for Friday night kissing when there’s a coven to destroy!” He destroys a baseball, which clearly was one of the fiend’s many flying incarnations.
Gonzalez tells him “you battle valiantly, team friend, yet I must submit to my Master’s call” and sacrifices a virgin baseball to the voracious fangs of Vlad The Impaler (Jr), bringing us to Minnesota 4-3
4: Leaving the Hotel Transylvania, we embark on the next leg of our Nightmare Vacation: the COVID Road Trip. Gladden and guest radio presence Glen Perkins theorize about what the food was like when Cory Provus, Kris Atteberry, and Kyle Hammer were driving back to Minnesota from Detroit after their positive tests. Gladden believes that Atteberry would be eating at Chick-Fil-A (the Jesus chicken), while Provus would insist on “bananas from Whole Foods.” Someone being mentioned contacts the booth, and provides the juicy details (or greasy details, as it were): the motorists stopped at McDonalds, Provus’s first such stop in 15 years. Perkins wonders if Provus ordered chicken nuggets and “did he take the breading off?”
In the baseballs, Gio Urshela gets a leadoff double, and doesn’t advance; in fact, he’s picked off to end the inning. This isn’t a TOOTBLAN for the slow-footed Gio, though — his ankle rolled under him as he tried getting back from his small lead. Luis Arraez will replace him on defense. (Technically, Miranda switches over to third, and Arraez comes in at first.)
Toronto's bats don't belfry young lefty Jovani Moran, who strikes out all three.
5: Hey, maybe Byron’s back! Kinda? He does have a two-out double, although he doesn’t score.
Having decided strikeouts are unfair, Moran instead elects to walk the first two batters he faces. Attempting to dab some antiseptic on this bleeding is Jharel Cotton (where did he come from, where did he go?) With no shadow of a doubt, Cotton gets Springer, Bo Bichette and Guerrero. Who wants to bet that Minnesota’s mighty bullpen can win this one? Anybody? Hello?
6: Still hunting, now for offense, Garlick leads off with a single. After a Gary Sanchez whiff, Arraez hits what’s at first ruled a GIDP but overturned on the back end via replay. It’s a lucky replay, since Miranda follows by telling Toronto pitcher Trevor Richards “anything you throw can be used against you in a court of Dong.”
Cotton, Jharel’s his name, he wakes hopes up as the sun goes down, and the three Blue Jays they frown. Little Canada 6, Real Canada 3
7: Another hit for Buxton; no scoring, but we’ll take some nice, solid swings for now. Talking about all the Blue Jays players who grew up with MLB dads, Gladden mentions how the kids got used to what life is like around an MLB dugout. He also says that he wouldn’t bring his two daughters anywhere near an MLB dugout. Either this means Gladden was raising fragile princesses who couldn’t be around often crude-speaking adults, or it means MLB players in his day might tone it down more for boy children than girl ones? Not great, either way.
Jhoan Duran will not take the dice after 28 pitches in two innings yesterday, so it’s Duff Man for now. He has a 4.66 ERA on the season despite some major hiccup outings, so he’s been successful, when he is. This time, he is.
8: Quick — who remembers that lefty Andrew Vasquez used to pitch for the Twins? In fact, they drafted him. Well, here he hits Nick Gordon (who came in on defense to replace Garlick), balks him to second, and throws a badly-outside pitch that isn’t wild or passed yet allows Gordon to steal third. Nick the Quick (sort of, not, like, really quick) comes home on a single off Vasquez’s glove, making him King Of The Impossible.
Joe The Smith, not in a platinum jubilee mood, tells formerly-British Canada that The Queen Is Dead by quickly going through Bichette, Guerrero, and the Third Guy. Minneapolis ahead of Toronto in northern latitude and 7-3
9: Did we say maybe Buxton was back? A double, single, and now Le Home Run (as they would have called it, possibly, in the other Canadian baseball city):
Jermaine Palacios hasn’t hit much in his first rookie call-up, but he did walk ahead of Buxton here, which is what you’d hope a solid defensive #9 hitter to do.
Off we go into the wild blue (jay) yonder with Griffin Jax, USAF. I am very tired and beg him please don’t be long, please don’t you be very long, and he’s not! Twins wim!
Studs here are the obvious ones on offense, and Jharel Cotton for picking up the “win” with some nice relief work, even if he’s the third man in line for middle innings.
Glen Perkins on radio was kind of a dud, yet got along well with Gladden without it being a “we old players were REEL MEN” cup-adjusting-fest like it was with Gladden and Tim Laudner earlier this week.
COTG goes to Inthebasenent for A) being first and B) pointing out “What about Nick Gordon...” after some damn fool said no current Twins had successful MLB papas.
Postgame, Baldelli said Sanchez’s ankle was going to get treatment but didn’t appear to have a severe strain. And Kyle Garlick was pulled for a sore hamstring, not for his defense.
Tomorrow’s game will be at 2:07, featuring Dylan Bundy (who scuffled after a nice start to the season) against old friend La Makina (who’se been scuffling all year). Hope you can join us then!