The Twins are officially eliminated from division contention after this one (they could still theoretically take the last wildcard spot if every Mariners player quits to join clown college). Hometown rookie pitcher Louis Varland is... OK. Shohei Ohtani is uncharacteristically walk-happy, and quite predictably the Twins don’t hurt him for it. Inning-by-inning notes:
1: After a scoreless top from Varland, Ohtani sloppies his way into a one-out jam (BB, HBP, BB). We get your Gladdenism of the game when Atteberry asks “on the last Friday home game of the season, on Fan Appreciation Weekend, how about a Jake Cave grand slam?”
Gladden: “Um. That’s asking a lot.”
Instead, Cave lines one to second that Luis Rengifro almost catches. With the runners holding in case of a catch, Rengifro is easily able to throw out the runner at second, then Nick Gordon is tagged out going to third. A run scores and the inning’s over. How 2022 Twins 1-0
2: Also how 2022 Twins. That lead disappears on one batter. Ohtani walks another Twin and nobody hits anything. I’m cooking beer. Probably drinking beer also. The stuff I cooked weeks ago. The stuff I’m cooking tonight needs yeast and time before it can provide Twins boredom relief. Tied 1-1
3: Gary Sanchez drops a pop foul. Atteberry speculates that the drizzling rain got into his contacts. That’s not how contacts work, Kris. The batter eventually gets on and scores. Do you want his name? Do you need his name? It’s Boogers McBoogerbutt, that’s who it is. The Twins go down on nine pitches. California Angels 2-1
4: One presumes Varland has family in the stands for his hometown debut. They’re North Saint Paul people, so you’ll know them for their tattoos and Fleet Farm hats. He does acceptably this inning.
Another Ohtani walk gives Jake Cave and his .203 average a shot at REDEMPTION!!!
(Oh, crap. Atteberry mentions that Cave had a “broken back” last year. A quick lookup clarifies that it involved a spinal disc fracture. I’ve had one of those. It was SCREAMING pain. I’m sorry, Jake Cave!)
He does strike out, because Ohtani is better at pitching than Cave is at hitting, but no more making fun of him from me tonight. Gary Sanchez, who dropped that popup, also strikes out and I’d make fun of him but I don’t have any good ideas.
5: Way to go, rook! After a leadoff double by Livan Soto, Varland strands him on third — with both Mike Trout and Ohtani up this inning. BAbip luck to be sure, but his family/friends will take that.
Luis Arraez breaks up Ohtani’s no-hitter, one of the only reasons to continue following this game. Nothing comes of it.
6: And there goes the other reason to keep following this game. Left in despite it being the dreaded “third time through the lineup,” Varland serves up a solo dong to Taylor Ward (who hit one in the second inning, too). He gets two more Angels out and is replaced by Trevor “Let The River Run” Megill. OK enough night for the young Varland. If you take away his solo homers to Aaron Judge, Jose Ramirez, and Ward here (all pretty notable sluggers), his ERA looks better. Then again, homers do count.
Something on offense for Minnesota? Nick Gordon singles, Gio Urshela walks, and JAKE CAVE gets the RBI single! Go back injury guys go!
Then Gary Sanchez strikes out looking. Except he doesn’t, he walks, because home plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt utterly blows the call. Ohtani’s frustrated. Gladden is furious. Whomever the Angels manager is now brings in lefty Aaron Loup to face the bases-loaded, no-out situation.
Is it a trap? Of course it is!
Another Minnesota-born rookie, Matt Wallner, strikes out on three pitches, disappointing his family/friends from Forest Lake in the stands. (Eh, they’re suburbanites, they’re probably disappointed by all their children and anyone who isn’t them.) Twins team astrologer Gilberto Celestino, recently benched by Rocco for dogging it on a tag-up play, pinch-hits for guy-you-didn’t-know-was-on-the-team Mark Contreras. And Celestino GIDPs.
Told ya it was a trap. Anaheim Angels 3-2
7: Quick mention on Sanchez’s AB last inning. Atteberry was astounded that fans chanted “Ga-ry,” “Ga-ry” despite Sanchez hitting .183 at Target Field this season. He said that fans have done so all year. Then started talking about other Twins players who got their name chanted by fans, such as “Ed-die” Rosario and “Lewwwwwww” Ford. “It just seems like fans pick a guy whose name fits a chant,” Atteberry says.
No doubt this began decades before I was born. But I can tell you who started the “Ed-die” chant for Guardado back in 2002.
Because it was me. Home opener. I did it. Others followed my genius.
This has been my great contribution to Twins fandom history.
Oh yeah, this game. Megill walks two guys. Caleb Thielbar comes in to face Ohtani. Ohtani wins. The Angels Angels Of Anaheim 4-2
8: I won’t complain about this game being slow and boring, because my gutsier colleagues have done some brutal doubleheaders lately (sorry, BB!), but I do want it over. I want to watch “Corrections.” I love “Corrections.”
As His Dark Materials, Emilio Enrique Pagán, enters, Atteberry checks off the all-time list of most HRs allowed by Twins relievers in a season. Ed-die matched Pagán’s current total of 14 one year and beat him with 16 once. Well, I still started the cheer.
With two out and two on, my designated mockery target Sanchez whiffs. Why was this bad? Because Wallner was on deck. The hometown kid could have had a chance for the big Grand Slam. Then, maybe, his suburbanite people would finally love him as a human who deserves love. But, suburbanites, so probably not even then.
“I hit the game-winning grand slam.”
“Great. We’re still so proud of you for only disappointing us in everything up until this moment in a meaningless game.”
9: Pagán’s fine for his second straight inning, following his season style of doing fine when it doesn’t matter.
Jermaine Palacios may some day be a fine MLB player. That day has not arrived. 0-4 with 3 Ks. Let’s all hope he gets much better next year. Twims lomse.
No duds or studs (beating these Twins is not an impressive feat), but special mention to Cave for being somewhat competitive the last few games when every other veteran Twin can’t wait for the offseason to start. (Not a slam on those veterans, either, I and many other Twins fans feel the same way.)
COTG goes to sandwiches for “What a sexy sliding catch by Wallner” and artistformerlyknownasGoose responding “I promise not to kink shame.” Thanks to SooFoo and Joel, too, I’d have been so bored without you folks.
(If you’re on Apple News, that clip is removed, and here’s a link to it: https://www.mlb.com/video/trevor-megill-in-play-out-s-to-max-stassi. But I’ve never been featured on Apple News and I don’t think this recap will change that streak.)
Tune in tommorrow at 6:10 if you want to catch Joe Ryan going for the Twins rookie strikeout record... although I don’t know what that record is. It was just something radio said.