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Guardians 4, Twins 3: Better never than late

Coulda, shoulda, woulda, weren’t gonna do great this weekend anyways.

MLB: Minnesota Twins at Cleveland Guardians
Is this forced perspective like Ian McKellan over Ian Holm?
David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

A 3-0 lead disappears due to late defensive “oops” and the Twins needing to rely on tired bullpen arms. Inning-by-inning notes:

1: Jose Miranda doubles at the end of a 12-pitch, two-out AB. Why do I have the feeling this is the closest Minnesota will come to scoring tonight?

Bailey Ober’s back in MLB for the first time since getting fairly rocked by Detroit on June 1. He plunks Jose Ramirez with two outs, then is saved for the final out on a diving catch by... Jake Cave? Hey, maybe this bunch of ragtag AAAAers can beat Cleveland, after all!

2: Ok, here’s one for the Weird file! The Twins are out on 1 pitch (popup), then an 0-1 ball in play, then a three-pitch K. Cleveland does the EXACT SAME THING IN EXACTLY THE SAME ORDER. Both are literally 1-2-3 innings.

3: Luis Arreaz gets a hit with two outs, and Atteberry says that he’s dealing with a sore hamstring, so he can’t run full-speed on a ball hit in the gap. No matter. Carlos Correa singles him to second, and Miranda bounces one down the line that deflects off an infielder into the corner. Arraez gets to lightly jog home. Unfortunately, Nick Gordon Ks with two RISP, as he always seems to do on Fridays.

Maybe Ober is actually healed, and not just emergency starting like Tyler Mahle did? Cleveland gets nothing off him. Twins 1-0

4: MORE Jake Cave??? With one on, Caveman solidly strokes his fourth dong of the season. “Get on my back, boys!” Well, maybe not quite, but still fun.

Sitting on 33 pitches, Ober doesn’t have it as easy this time. He walks Ramirez and gives up a sharp two-out single to excellent rookie Oscar Gonzalez, advancing Ramirez to third. But then (Rumpole of the) Bailey strikes out Andres Gimenez to keep Cleveland scoreless, Minnesota 3-0; Bailey at 56 pitches now.

5: Your Gladdenism of the Game comes when Atteberry tells this story: “I always want to come to Cleveland because of that one time some gentleman told me I looked like George Clooney. Every time I’m here, I look for that guy, but I haven’t found him.”

Gladden: “HUH?”

(For the record, here’s a picture of Atteberry:

“I am Shiva, the God of Death.”

Handsome enough fellow, but I don’t see the Clooney resemblance.)

Ober plunks his second of the night in #8 hitter Luis Maile. Fortunately #9 hitter Myles Straw strikes out on a slider that bounces “three feet in front of the plate” (per Atteberry) and inspires Gladden to grumble “send him down!” Then Steven Kwan flies out easily to end things. Ober into the dreaded Third Time Through, now, and at 70 pitches total.

6: Sure enough, Rocco’s computer dictates the entrance of Michael Fulmer (probably Ober’s wildness in that last inning helped the computer decide). Fulmer gets rocked on a hot grounder that Nick Gordon barely gloves, then a Ramirez ground-rule double. Nobody scores, though.

7: Cleveland is certainly winning the Battle of Tomorrow’s Bullpen (it’s gonna be a doubleheader, if you hadn’t heard). At 81 pitches, Triston MacKenzie only needs eight more to blank Minnesota.

It’s Meat Raffle time. Also, Twins Playoff Chase Defense time — 2B Gordon flubs an easy throw to first, gifting leadoff hitter Gimenez. A pinch-hitter named Owen Miller smacks a long single, sending Gimenez to third. Nobody out. T-Bar strikes out Maile, and leaves the game.

CAPT Griffith Jax, USAF (ret) enters. (Like Fulmer, like Thielbar, he pitched yesterday.) Myles Straw singles up the middle. Steven Kwan almost ties it, but a fine Miranda dive keeps that from happening.

Then Amed Rosario does tie it. Jax gets the final out, but your Win Expectancy just dropped to “No.” Tied until Cleveland wins, 3-3

8: Correa, Miranda, and Gordon represent the Twins' only real chance of taking a lead for the rest of the game, and they swing like it. AKA, flailing wildly. Gordon hits several off his feet, which he’s already done multiple times tonight, so great day for doubleheader tomorrow. (Yes, Gordon’s out, and Jermaine Palacios replaces him on defense.)

Jhoan Duran comes in to stop the Twins singing “Come Undone.” (And yes, he pitched yesterday, too.)

It... doesn’t work.

Hit, hit, UNBELIEVABLE WILD PITCH — even Gary Sanchez can’t find where it bounced to, allowing the runner on second to score. Another WP puts a runner on third. Somehow, Duran gets out of this, but now it’s Guardians 4-3

9: Emmanuel Clase retires the first two Twins. Super Jake Cave singles one off Clase’s pitching hand and reaches first, since Cave is a Scrapper. Pinch-speedster Billy Hamilton runs for Cave. It doesn’t matter. Twims lose, season over (it was really over as of Sunday)

Studs: Ober and The Cave For Jakes

Duds: Gordon on Fridays, the Falvine for assembling a bullpen so feeble and relying on it so heavily that even the decent relievers will get whomped eventually

COTG goes to JohnFoley for this graph, and to MenashaTwinsFan for “These graves are so stressful/frustrating!” I don’t know quite what that means, but it felt exactly right.

Tomorrow’s DH will start with Concordia University’s own Louie Varland (that college is near where I live, yay me!), who was very solid in his MLB debut at Yankee Stadium. He’ll be opposed by your favorite boy-bander Shane Bieber at 12:10 Central. Enjoy the last gasps!