One of the worst things you can do in the first game of a doubleheader is allow the opposing starter to work deep into the ballgame. After all, if your opposition has to dip into their bullpen early, it restricts what they can do in the second game.
The Twins elected not to adhere to this maxim, and Cleveland ace Shane Bieber did ace-like things, tossing eight brilliant, economical innings, and setting up the Guards to knock their second-closest rival down another peg.
Louis Varland was greeted by a Jose Ramirez bomb in the first inning to set the tone. The momentum — if you believe in such a thing — was on Cleveland’s side from the get-go, as the Guardians received quick innings on defense and got to work scoring early against Minnesota.
Amed Rosario would add another run for the home team with a third-inning single; Owen Miller singled in two more in the fourth — the same inning in which the Twins finally recorded their first hit off Shane Bieber.
It was a dominant performance from Cleveland’s two-time All-Star, who was tagged just once in what wound up being the most interesting storyline of the afternoon. In his major-league debut, Matt Wallner launched a deep solo shot into the right-center bleachers, notching the first knock of his MLB career in majestic fashion.
Much to the chagrin of the TV booth, the Cleveland fan who caught the ball went on to engage in a multi-inning negotiation period that dominated the rest of the telecast for lack of anything better to watch. The negotiation involved Twins personnel, stadium security, and text messages from Justin Morneau, and was not yet finished at the time of the game’s conclusion.
According to Dan Hayes, the reason for the hitch appeared to be that the fan was requesting something out of the scope of the Twins organization:
Heard the fan with the Matt Wallner home run ball wants a Matt Wallner signed bat and to throw out a first pitch at a #Guardians game. Twins have no control over the latter.#MNTwins— DanHayesMLB (@DanHayesMLB) September 17, 2022
It was a smooth top of the ninth for Emmanuel Clase, who was tabbed by manager Terry Francona to return to close things out after finishing last night’s ballgame.
In the most crucial stretch of the 2022 season, the Twins have lost five straight head-to-head matchups with the Cleveland Guardians, who open their lead over Minnesota to six games, and their lead over the Chicago White Sox to 4.5.
The Twins will need to win tonight to return to where they were just hours ago.
RF Matt Wallner (1-for-3, R, RBI, HR)
See you in a bit!