Louie Varland coughed up just two long balls in six otherwise strong inngs... but that was enough for Toronto, what with the Twins’ offense facing Kevin Gausman et. al. They got 9 walks, 12 strikeouts and no homers, which isn’t the ideal “three true outcomes” ratio. Inning-by-inning notes:
1: Whose ex-cheater is better? George Springer leads off the game with a ripping double, advanced to third on a fly, then got TOOTBLANned by... Carlos Correa. He suckers Springer into running on a Vlad Guerrero grounder, tags Springer out in a rundown, then throws out Vlad who had rounded just a bit too far past first. To quote The Right Stuff, sort of, “our cheaters are better than their cheaters.” At least in this instance!
After Donovan Solano lines a single, 2012 #1 draft pick Correa draws a walk. It’s a TRA! #4 draft pick Gausman gets #3 pick Byron Buxton to fly out, then Ks Alex Kirilloff/Kyle Farmer. (Picked 15th and in the 8th round, respectfully, in their respective years.)
2: Whit Merrifield’s name is wasted in Toronto. It was a perfect name for someone who’d remind you they’re the Second Earl of Whoggivesafugg... aka, a Royal. Although I suppose a bird can go “whit,” since every spelling of bird calls is wrong. (“Chick-a-dee”... no.) Give Varland a scoreless inning, give Gausman two more Ks, and give the Twins two more LOBs.
3: Radio has some fun with how Alejandro Kirk runs, well, like William Shatner. Longtime Devil Ray Kevin Kiermayer doesn’t need to run when he hits a dinger, and neither does Bo “Son of Dante” Bichette when he big flies with Springer on base. Well, the home run rate has been a flaw in Varland’s young MLB career so far; 1.8 per 9 is high. Now it is higher. Jays 3-0
4: Here’s a question. You know those Fangraphs win probability graphs? Do they account for things like “the Twins rarely score much off good pitchers?” I guess not, since they always start the game at 50/50 overall. The Twins start this inning at a 17.3% chance to win, which seems high to me unless Gausman suddenly gets blow-darted with horse tranquilizer.
Speaking of chemicals, I always wished Guerrero’s dad would have opened a head shop called “Vlad The Inhaler.” Alas, he hasn’t yet.
Varland gives up no more homers so GOOD FOR HIM!
Gladden mentions how Edouard Julien is Canadian, and asks Provus if Cory calls him “HEY, CANADIAN” like he will Morneau. (Answer, "no.") Then Provus talks about how, when the broadcasters couldn’t go on road games during COVID, the TV and radio booths would amuse each other by yelling things. Then Gladden tells a story of Jake Odorizzi throwing a ball into the booth and surprising everyone, for some Gladden reason.
This is all more interesting than the Twins on offense.
5: Radio now tells us that Varland is the youngest Twins pitcher to win back-to-back starts since Randy Dobnak at age 24. (Is Dobnak still around? I hope so, I root for him.) They then mention how it will take some doing for Varland to make it 3 in a row. FanGraphs says 84.9% “no,” I say 1000000000%. Klobberin’ Kiermayer helps the cause by getting caught in ANOTHER third-to-home rundown (the “contact play,” every Twins fan’s oldest friend).
Correa gets a hit so GOOD FOR HIM!
6: After Duke Baron Merrifield gets on with two outs, Gladden is astonished to learn that in 2018, Merrifield led MLB in steals. “With 45?” Yes, Dazzle, steals have been down since Rickey’s day. There were some rule changes about it, if you hadn’t heard!
Merrifield doesn’t score, and in the old days they would have called this a “quality start” for Varland. It’s largely a worthless statistic, but it this case the label, at least, fits. Good job minimizing the damage.
Kirilloff takes the Twins’ fourth walk of the game; I haven’t mentioned most of the others since, in my judgment as a Professional Recapper,* these things did not matter. Julien takes another, though, and Kyle “Friend Of Vampires” Garlick knocks AK-17 in, driving out Gausman.
This brings in Erik Swanson for Gausman, and Joey Gallo for Chrstian Vázquez. Gallo walks. This means the bases are loaded, and you know how that turns out. Les oiseaus 3-1
(* “professional” and “recapper” in a certain sense only)
7: The sun is down, so His Dark Materials, Emilio Pagán, is summoned from his lair of asps to enter the game. Since the Twins really have no chance of winning (I reject FanGraphs’ 26.9% of lies), Pagán does fine.
Who is this Erik Swanson? Well, he’d been a Mariner for a few years, and Toronto traded star outfielder Teoscar Hernández for him. Anyways, he walks Correa and K’s Buxton. In comes a Tim Mayza, another young Toronto guy I don’t know, even as a casual one-night-stand. This inning takes longer than I want in a game I know the Twins will lose anyways. It ends with two LOB when Julien strikes out, causing Morneau to mumble, “this youngling is not yet worthy of poutine.”
8: Pagán Ks all of Bichette, Guerrerro, and Matt Chapman, which would be a good showing if it wasn’t absolute proof that the baseball gods notched this as a loss already.
The Twins face yet another young Blue Jay with a good ERA, whom you can look up if you like, who again wastes my time by taking more than 90 seconds to hold the Twins scoreless.
9: Alright, who’s pitching now? Crap, José Eugenio De León, probably also getting between me and my post-game beverages. Aha, no! After a sloppy start, he gets a GIDP and quick groundout to end things. I now like this pitcher.
Jordan Romano (actually from Ontario!) doesn’t dilly-dally any more of my remaining life than need be. Twims lohse.
Your standings are now DET 2.0 GB, CLE 3.5, CHW 5.0, Wildcard HAHAHAHA
Studs: Correa for fun 1st-inning double play, Varland for rebounding against a strong lineup. Duds: Buxton (0-5, 2 K), young Toronto relievers who didn’t realize they could finish the Twins faster.
COTG goes to gintzer for “If things continue to go sour tonight, tomorrow could be the day the Twins start the arguing. Rocco (who I voted not to fire) did not look happy. The bases loaded, 3-2, 1 out strike call against the Twins was egregious and a game changer.”
Thanks to the few, the proud, the commenter-joiners-in on this “holiday” weekend. (Not everyone has three days off!) Tomorrow’s game features not-Arráez Pablo López against Chris Bassitt at 1:10.