I would have saved my B-tier Judy Garland pun for a more impressive outing, but at the end of the day, St. Paul native Louie Varland did a heck of a job proving why he’s more than a depth starter to this organization.
The Angel lineup is no easy assignment — especially when Mike Trout doesn’t have the night off. But as part of a performance that saw him surrender just two runs, Varland got both Trout and Shohei Ohtani on strikes, limiting the Angels to six hits through five solid innings; he would be pulled after his sixth got off to a rocky start, but left in line for the win and with plenty to be happy about.
Meanwhile, Los Angeles starter Patrick Sandoval left a bit more to be desired. Sandoval issued four walks, which didn’t help his bloated pitch count; Sandoval was pulled after 104 offerings midway through the fifth, a 3-1 Twins lead already staked to the scoreboard.
That lead was jump-started by an explosive first inning, largely courtesy of Byron Buxton’s elite-percentile sprint speed. With two on and nobody out, Buxton beat out an otherwise-would-be double play grounder — this enabled him to execute a gutsy first-to-third play on an RBI single from Kyle Farmer, then score on a base knock off the bat of Kyle Garlick.
Rocco Baldelli then called for some small ball; with men on the corners, Willi Castro dropped down a safety squeeze to help ensure the lead was pushed to three runs.
The Angels would never get too close again. They scratched across their first run on a Hunter Renfroe double in the fourth, and added a Shohei Ohtani solo shot (11) in the bottom of the sixth, just after Joey Gallo had turned on one in the top half.
But perhaps the most enjoyable score of the night was Trevor Larnach’s two-run little league homer that added some much-appreciated insurance right before stretch time.
All the while, the Minnesota bullpen kept things tidy. Jovani Moran threw a tidy sixth, albeit allowing one of his inherited runners to score. Jorge Lopez struck out two in a scoreless seventh; late-inning surprise Brock Stewart chucked a perfect eighth.
Jhoan Duran allowed former Twin Gio Urshela to reach leading off the ninth, then struck out his next three hitters — including a pinch-hitting Mickey Moniak — to seal the deal and even the series at a game apiece.
SP Louie Varland (5 IP, 6 H, 2 R, BB, 4 K)
Bullpen (4 IP, 2 H, 6 K)
1B Donovan Solano (2-for-3, R, 2B)
SS Carlos Correa (1-for-2, 3 BB again!)
3B Kyle Farmer (3-for-5, 2 R, RBI)
I AIN’T SEE NO DUDS HERE
ROBOT ROLL CALL:
Joel, while not on the 40-man, returns from the taxi squad to take an unlikely COTG.
A couple newsworthy tweets to keep you occupied until the morning, you ravenous beasts, you. First, re: Jorge Alcala; second, re: Byron Buxton’s early departure from this one.
elbow inflammation. they tried to build him back up but had to shut him back down https://t.co/i8ti6n6kii— Do-Hyoung Park (@dohyoungpark) April 23, 2022
Right leg tightness for Byron Buxton, per the Twins.— Do-Hyoung Park (@dohyoungpark) May 21, 2023