Kenta Maeda looks sharp in his REAL comback-from-TJ debut, and the Twins get to Tigers rookie Joey Wentz in just one well-hit inning. The bullpen made sure it was enough. Inning-by-inning notes:
1: How is Maeda? Well, he walks the first guy and gets hit by the next. Then, strikeout, then double play. (An “Innovative Office Solutions” double play, as radio has been telling us for what seems like a long time, now.) So, he’s OK? Maybe?
Oh, and the Twins had three turns at the plate, too.
2: Apparently those three turns at the plate were to get the team warmed up, like the singular organism it is. Royce Lewis provides a solo dinger, Willi Castro a rare walk, and Max Kepler strokes his own dong to make it 3-0. Per Rocco, Kepler was only in the lineup against lefty Wentz because right field in Comerica is roomier than usual.
Ha, Rocco got tossed. He was arguing that Wentz committed a balk with Donovan Solano on first. Mrs. James says “I think he’s just hung over and needs a nap.” Or, you know, it was exhaustion from collecting all those baseballs yesterday:
Baby Baldelli just wanted to play during her dad’s press conference pic.twitter.com/tdcxsjSWjt— Minnesota Twins (@Twins) June 22, 2023
In any case, that’s the second heave-ho for Baldelli this week. Is he... showing emotion? Our Rocco? I like it. He needs to throw things and/or kick dirt on the ump, though.
The Tigers get three turns at the plate and FAIL. Maeda’s here to save us!
3: Spencer Torkelson has a name that probably got his picked an as a kid. So he vowed to get bigger than everyone and show all the bullies. Unfortunately, Maeda was one of those bullies, and continues his torment of “Dorkelson” with a strikeout.
4: Well, ever since Rocco got ejected, Wentz has metamorphed from “early exit” to Cy Young. It’s the dreaded reverse-inspiration ejection. Maeda continues to roll, with seven strikeouts and 62 pitches so far. Supposedly not on a pitch count, we’ll see.
5: Maeda does get into trouble, here, with two on and two out. Acting manager Some Friggin’ Guy has Jovani Moran warmed up in the bullpen, and comes out to get Kenta. Per radio, you could see Maeda say “one more.” He gets one more. And strikes out Zach McKinstry on four pitches. The Twins in the dugout are fired up about this.
(Now it’d be nice if they got fired up at the plate.)
6: The Twins do get fired up! Well... sort of. Kyle Farmer leads off with an almost-dong double, and Castro walks. Then Kepler hits a high, shallow fly to center, which Matt Vierling drops. Castro gets to second just in time to avoid the force play. It’s the dreaded bases-loaded TRAP!
Reliever Brendan White comes in, and generously picks this moment to throw the first wild pitch of his MLB career, Farmer scores.
Then Christian Rafael Vázquez grounds out, runners stay put. Michael Taylor is called out on a pitch inside, doesn’t like it, and umpire Lance Barrett tosses him. Assistant hitting coach Derek Shomon thinks this is a bulls**t move by Barrett — so Barrett tosses Shomon. And then pinch-hitter Alex Kirilloff gets called out on a pitch that’s low.
(Uncle Lincoln comment: “On the plus side... way more elbow-room in the dugout than when this thing started.”)
Moran pitching. Briefly. He gets one out, then gives up a double and walk. In comes “cleaner of others' messes” Brock Stewart. Old acquaintance Jonathan Schoop (rhymes with “pope,” not “poop”) grounds an infield hit deep to short.
So Detroit has the bases loaded. G-rated fly dropper Vierling singles on an eight-pitch AB. Stewart gets Miguel Cabrera to GIDP. Twins still lead, 4-1, but are running out of relievers early, here.
7: Mason Englert is pitching, a native of Forney, Texas, a town named “Antique Capital of Texas” by the Texas legislature, a body given all the respect it richly deserved by the late, great Molly Ivins. Anyways, Englert puts the Twins in storage pretty quickly.
Maybe I was wrong about running thin on relievers! Stewart comes back out for this inning, throws 15 pitches, 14 of them 97+ MPH. And strikes out the side. Bad. Ass.
8: Kepler gets another hit off a lefty, Tyler Alexander, but nothing comes of it.
CAPT Griffin Jax, USAF pitching. For those who haven’t seen it, here’s a good article on his midseason rebound by Do-Hyoung Park. Jax’s valiant hands blast the world asunder, and Detroit gets nothing but a single.
9: Byron Buxton almost redeems an 0-4, three strikeout night with a dong, but LF Andy Ibanez robs it at the wall. Buxton tips his cap to Ibanez — you know Bux wishes he was out there robbing dingers himself.
It’s Jhoan Duran time, and he goes a little bit Wild Boys with walking Vierling. No worries, three strikeouts, Twims wim!
Studs: Kepler for annoying Ben, Maeda for looking (hopefully) healthy again, Stewart for being what they used to call the “Rolaids Relief Man.”
COTG comes early, as John Foley noted how “The one-handed catch in the stands of Lewis’ home run by the parent holding the kid should not be overlooked. Will be hard to beat that for play of the game. Incredible.” He’s right, watch it.
Tomorrow’s game at 6:15 features Not Arraez pitching against rookie Reese Olson, maybe catch ya then!