On Al Newman’s birthday, the Twins showed improved strike-zone patience — for a few innings, at least — and, as a result, pummeled young Orioles starter Dean Kremer. Either that, or Kremer just had a really crummy night. While Pablo López escaped a big inning early, and Minnesota set it on “simulate to ending” the rest of the way. Inning-by-inning notes:
1: After an 85-minute rain delay, this new and improved (post Rocco rant) version of the Twins better be worth the wait. As Provus observes pregame, the team “simply hasn’t been that interesting to watch.” And he’s paid to.
Carlos Correa is leading off for the fourth time in his career for... the element of surprise? Well, he does get on with a seeing-eye single. A few strikeouts later and an Alex Kirilloff liner to right, Royce Lewis delivers the opening point.
In my CPU version of this one, Pablo López had MLB’s 25th-ever perfect game. Well, that lasts six pitches, as he walks both Cedric Mullins and his 13 steals. No-hitter’s still going, though! Twins 1-0
2: Joey Gallo almost gets a rare walk. Instead, he gets a rarer homer! Correa doubles — he’s halfway to The Cycle! (He will never, ever get another triple unless baseball brings back the Polo Grounds.) Unfortunately, these things happen in the order listed.
So-much for the no-hitter; Austin Hays bounces one off López (who isn’t hurt). He then allows a one-out hit and two-out walk (to the #9 batter). Gets out of it though, which is called BAbipping. Twins 2-0
3: A Byron Buxton leadoff walk and steal? Is that the Twins Way? Kirilloff knocks him in, and is now 2-2. We also get a Max Kepler homer, which we will call a Keppledongzen. López decides to have his first strikeout and first 1-2-3 inning simultaneously, so ex-Senators 5, ex-Browns 0
4: Kremer is still in there at 89 pitches, perhaps to help bolster the youngling’s confidence on a tough night, or to make him just eat innings. He walks Gallo (!) and plunks Correa. That’s it for Kremer. Bruce Zimmerman (no relation to Hibbing’s Bob) comes in and PH Kyle Farmer “productively outs” with a deep fly, which both runners tag up/advance on.
More productive still is the subsequent Buxton bomb. Which now has me worried that the Twins will immediately go back to swinging at everything for the next week. Oh, well, enjoy the moment. Eight is enough, theoretically
5: Not starting tonight are former Twins Kyle Gibson and Tyler Wells (Wells was a Rule 40 pickup by Baltimore after he never reached the majors as a Twin). Available in the bullpen are former Twins Danny Coulombe and Yennier Cano, with 2.28 and 1.14 ERAs, respectively. Theoretically, if the Twins went up by a huge lead late, Aaron Hicks could pitch an inning (he never has).
10 in a row sent down by López, who must have just got the perfect-game spiritual karma I sent him.
6: In is rookie Nick Vespi, who looks like he should be drumming for a Pantera cover band. Buxton gets a double with two outs and doesn’t score, and I don’t know what he feels about Pantera. Or Panera Bread.
The Orioles do get to López, on an Adley Rutschman dinger, in a nine-pitch AB. This is something the Twins REALLY haven’t done well in losses — drive that starter’s pitch count up, wear out some of the opponent’s bullpen for the next game. Anyways, we won’t see Hicks playing if the score stays 8-1
7: Facing Jovani Moran is likably-named player Anthony Benboom. He’s not much of a “boom” guy at all, having an average of .160 in 187 ABs over parts of five seasons... but he IS one of us, from Sauk Rapids, Minnesota! A hometown he shares with Rip Repuslki, who wasn’t repulsive, played for nine seasons, and is buried in Sauk Rapids, too. Anyways, Benboom strikes out.
8: His Dark Materials, Emilio Enrique Pagán, comes into an unimportant situation and appropriately uses his candy-colored fingers and schadenfreude eyes to maintain the score.
9: Mississauga, Ontario’s own Jordan Balazovic almost gives up his second dong of the year, but it’s caught. Twims wim!
They currently sit 1.0 games ahead of Cleveland, and 5.0 over both Detroit and Chicago.
Radio comment of the game: Provus notes that the postgame concert will be performed by — no joke — “DJ Diesel,” AKA Shaquille O’Neal. (One of his NBA nicknames was Shaq Diesel.) Immediately after Provus said this, Kepler hit his home run, probably granted by the Baseball Gods as a request from the Music Gods.
Tomorrow’s game starts at 3:05 with Bailey Ober against something called a Kyle Bradish, catch it if you dare!