It looked like sure disappointment for Minnesota after squandering an early opportunity to chase Orioles starter Spenser Watkins and his 5.59 ERA. He and Joe Ryan both excelled, making this a bullpen battle, and those haven’t gone well lately. Until, you read the headline.
1: Radio factoids! Baltimore had a 14-12 record in June, their first winning month in... five years? Gladden says it, so it must be true. And they haven’t won at Target Field since 2017, so this game’s either a lock or the Orioles are totally due. Ryan pitches like it’s a lock, getting first-pitch fouls on all three hitters.
It’s a trap! After Luis Allstarraez leads off with a wicked stung double, Buxton Ks, Correa singles, and Kepler walks, inspiring Jorge Polanco to strikeout on five straight cutters. Jose Miranda singles, but LF Ryan McKenna’s gold in nailing Correa at the plate. Wanted more there, yet it's Twins 1-0
2: So, is Joe Ryan going to pitch a no-hitter, or perfect game, or the perfectest game? None of the above, but he’s again quick/effective. Unfortunately so is Spenser “Britomart” Watkins, who threw 29 pitches in the first inning and only six here.
3: No perfection. In fact, Ryan walks #9 hitter Jorge Mateo, who’s hitting .199 on the season and leads the Orioles in steals. Maybe walking him is Ryan’s way of making this a challenge, things were too easy and he was bored. A double by Cedric Mullins scores the speedster, because WHY WALK A FAST GUY HITTING .199
We have a Weirdness. Baltimore manager Brandon Hyde apparently thought Ryan balked on a throw to first, and Mateo should have had second base. The guy who just scored from first, so this call didn’t matter. Hyde won’t let it go, though, and gets ejected in-between innings. I suppose four years of managing a team winning .360 would make anyone testy.
Spenser “Orgoglio” Watkins gets two strikeouts, giving him four so far. He averages 4.6 per nine innings. Either the Twins are swinging at junk or Spenser has grown as a person, player, and private detective. Tied 1-1
4: Ryan Mountcastle, who sounds like Nicolas Cage’s financial advisor, gets a one-out double off Your Ryan and fortunately doesn’t score.
It’s now nine straight Twins sent down by Spenser “Scudamore” Watkins since Miranda’s first-inning hit. There is also a town named Watkins, Minnesota. The good senator McCarthy was born there. McCarthy Park in Watkins is named after him. From the town’s website: “The highlight of summer is the Kraut N’ Wurst Days held the first Saturday in August each year with a parade, Little Miss Watkins Pageant, Cow Drop Raffle, an evening street dance and beverage/food stands located in McCarthy Park.” This all sounds creepy/awful except maybe the Cow Drop Raffle.
5: Three strikeouts for Ryan! He’s at a very solid 59 pitches through five innings, too.
And three more Twins retired by Spenser “Busirane” Watkins, plus more Weird. Ryan Jeffers leaves with two outs for Gary Sanchez, who left yesterday’s game for Jeffers. Jeffers did take a hard foul off the mask in the top of the inning, but he stayed in. Anyways, he’s gone now, meaning Sanchez will catch Ryan for the first time. (He’s never caught Sonny Gray, either.)
6: This time, it’s three flyouts for Ryan — his only groundout was in the second. Gladden provides us with his signature radio wackiness by trying to explain that the only reason some hurlers are flyball picthers and some are groundball pitchers is because “the hitters make them that way: you ask those Baltimore hitters, they won’t say Ryan’s a flyball pitcher.” Huh? What?
15 straight for Spenser “Despair” Watkins. He was originally drafted by Detroit out of Western Oregon State College, the only MLBer to come from that smallish school. It’s in the smallish town of Monmouth, OR, which was the last town on the West Coast to ban alcohol (the ban was finally repealed in 2002). And that explains why I’ve never been in Monmouth, I suppose.
7: Ryan keeps rolling along; 89 pitches now, so he’s likely done (sadness). Baltimore’s bullpen is better than Minnesota’s bullpen.
Watkins leaves for a member of that bullpen, Cionel Felix Pérez and his 1.14 ERA on the season. The Twins force Mountcastle (who is not a rook) to make some good defensive plays, and he makes them.
8: One of the better Twins bullpenners, Caleb Theilbar, still loses the lead here. McKenna (him again) gets a leadoff double, and pinch-hitter Trey Mancini fielder’s choices him to third. On a subsequent Mateo grounder, Polanco tries getting McKenna at the plate and hits him with the ball instead. Up again/down again Juan Minaya finishes the inning, although at this rate it’s hard to see the Orioles needing more runs to win this one.
6’5” Felix Bautista and his 1.50 ERA make it 21 straight Twins outs. Orioles 2-1
9: Minaya gets it done. Maybe the Twins can? I’m negative, except on high blood pressure tests. These are not the result of Twins-related stress, just unclean living, I shoulda grown up in Monmouth.
Baltimore hasn’t lost when leading after eight this year. Jorge López, who pitched eight innings of perfect ball at Target Field as a Royals starter in 2018 (he got a standing ovation when he left the game, classy!) hasn’t given up a home run all season. Oh, and his ERA? 0.73.
Luis Arraez fouls off three straight full count pitches before singling one right up the middle (what else is new?) Byron Buxton, 0-3 with two strikeouts, falls behind 1-2 and — ahem.
That’s a yes. And that little hand thing he does after rounding first is So. Cool.
No duds, Twims wim! Studs go to Ryan, Baltimore’s pitching/defense, Allstarraez, and I suppose that Buxton guy.
Even though there wasn’t much action on the gamethread, we have several COTG winners. norff and mikecardii get Bummer Prediction Points for, respectively, writing “Bases loaded... They got us right where they want us” and “Bullpen angst starting to creep in my mind.” However, mike also had “A walkoff would be fun today after all those games during the week,” but for norff “I tuned out because the twims have been so anti clutch lately / Shame on me” (we’ve all been there, good sir!)
Winner winner Sheboygan dinner goes to AshleyReb for being part of a group that “This was the game we splurged on,” so good for you, folks! And Joel wins the “Hi” of the game for his “Hi.”
Tomorrow’s matchup will feature Minnesota’s other #1 starter, Sonny Gray, against the workmanlike veteran Jordan Lyles at 1:10 (no word yet on Gray’s preferred catcher Jeffers, who has a thumb contusion). Catch ya then, maybe!