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Twins 3, Astros 2 (F-10): A truly wild finish for the home opener

There was a bullpen meltdown, and, surprise! It wasn’t the Twins!

Houston Astros v Minnesota Twins
Poor Trevor Larnach, seen here grimacing as he steps on a rusty nail, was later to die of tetanus poisoning. Lesson to all: get your shots.
Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

What We Do In The Shadows was, for hitters, not very much today. The odd mid-afternoon start meant shadows extended halfway through the infield much of this game. Twins starter Sonny Gray and Houston’s Jose Urquidy took advantage and racked up the strikeouts. But after Houston scored in their turn of Manfredball, the usually solid Astros reliever Ryne Stanek threw like Charlie Sheen in Major League ... before he got glasses. A new Twin provided the happy ending. And the game still only took 2:47.

Inning-by-inning notes:

1: As usual with home openers, the game starts late. Not by much, though, seven minutes. If there’s a tribute to a dead owner who hated fans enormously, it’ll take longer.

There’s an odd thing on’s live game page, you know the one? The one with the generic hitter graphic that switches sides of the plate based on which hand they bat with? Then shows pitch tracks? I never noticed this before, but you can see the generic hitter’s neck and it’s always Caucasian. If can program their graphic to do handedness, they should be able to do brown.

2: Sonny Gray has four strikeouts in two innings. That used to be impressive, but everyone basically swings like Joey Gallo now.

I thought from Urquidy’s stats that he threw a slurve, but calls it a “sweeper.” That term is new to me, for I am an Old and resist anything invented after 1980. Here’s a good explanation of the pitch.

3: Small-ball alert! After Mauricio Dubon’s leadoff double, Martin Maldonado... bunts? Is that legal anymore? Gray strikes out the next guy, and Alex Bregman doubles Dubon in, so the bunt didn’t really help.

With two outs, Michael A. Taylor dribbles a single and Buxton smacks another one. Carlos Correa strikes out. Because strikeouts are COOL NOW Astros 1-0

4: There’s a replay challenge on a Kyle Tucker double, was he tagged out at second? After two friggin’ minutes, the call on the field stands. If a blown call isn’t obvious in 60 seconds of replay review, let the call stand. OTOH long replays give people time to go potty.

(Speaking of sped-up play, Twins president Dave St. Peter recently announced that stadium rules about beer sales are changed to cutoff after the eighth inning, instead of the mid-7th. And other teams are doing the same. This is a good way to make beer sales match what they were before pitch clocks, but it’s bad public safety. Maybe beer sales allowed if someone shows a Metro Transit Go-Card?)

The Twins get two on with one out, and load the bases with two out, but do not score because the offense is now broken forever. No need to name names, they know who they are.

5: Gray now has 11 strikeouts on 75 pitches. This is good.

Michael A. Taylor leads off with a double, and Buxton grounds him to third. This is good. Correa strikes out. Trevor Larnach swings badly at a low 2-1 changeup and is very out. This is bad.

6: Baldelli lets Gray face the lineup a third time? Truly, this year’s pitching strategy is different. Gray does fine.

Oddly, after Solano and Farmer get on, Rocco pinch-hits for Gallo against the righthanded Urquidy. So maybe he’s hurt. (Truly, this year’s training staff is not different.) Astros skipper Dusty Baker counters with righty reliever Bryan Abreu. The pinch-hitter, Nick Gordon, grounds into a 6-4 FC, but Solano reaches third. Next, WILD PITCH! TWINS SCORE! Then Abreu walks Christian Vázquez. Is it actual RBI time?

No. Tied 1-1

7: Sonny Gray, STILL IN THERE, gets his career-high 13th strikeout. The Twins have now gone 25 innings without a lead. I know that’s not very long but out of 61 innings this season it feels like a lot.

8: After going down in flames in his last outing, Griffin Jax, USAF, rises from the ashes to throw a perfect inning. Well, he is from Phoenix.

Hector Neris is now pitching and I have no idea who he is. Jose Miranda doesn’t care and gets a leadoff single anyway. Neris doesn’t care and the Twins don’t score.

9: In comes Skin Diver Jhoan Duran, who promptly walks Yordan Alvarez and then remembers he can throw strikes really, really hard.

Ex-Twin Ryan Pressly faces ex-Astro Vázquez and manages to notch himself a pitch-clock call but gets the strikeout anyways.

With two out, here comes Byron. With two strikes, there whiffs Byron. MANFREDBALL

10: OK. So Jorge Lopez was amazing for Baltimore the first half of last year and blah after the Twins got him. Let’s see here. A groundout and Dubon single gives Houston the MANFREDBALL run.

Buxton’s the automatic runner and Baker’s using the veteran Ryne Stanek. Correa, who’s looked off so far this season, takes strike three right down the middle. Buxton cannot advance. Then WILD PITCH and Buxton gets to third. Trevor Larnach against the infield in. He walks. Infield at double-play depth with Miranda up. Smash single! Tie game! Two on! WILD PITCH AGAIN! Intentional walk loads ‘em up for Kyle Farmer.

BOOM! Right up the middle! TWIMS WIN!!!

Your COTG goes to artistformerlyknownas goose for telling Farmer “It’s time to harvest some runs.” Much earlier in the game than the final AB, so it was prophecy. I hereby suggest we all make farm-related jokes on Kyle’s behalf this season.

Today’s Gladdenism of the day came postgame, when he remembered his first Twins home opener, in 1987. Also a walk-off Twins win. Gladden was the DH and had three strikeouts. (Good memory, Dazzle, BRef says you’re right.) Point being, yes, Correa’s been cold this first week, but he’ll be fine. 1987 went pretty well for the Twins, IIRC.

I missed the postgame bit where they talked about Joey Gallo’s status after leaving the game for a same-handed pinch-hitter, but my guess is “he felt some soreness and we don’t think it’s anything major, we’ll just have to monitor it day-to-day.” Because that’s what they ALWAYS say.