I wonder how many baseball games I’ve seen in my life. I’ve been watching baseball for nearly four decades. Twins games weren’t on TV much when I was a little kid, but since the second half of my childhood, baseball has mostly been available on TV, daily, for six months a year. Have I seen thousands of games? Multiple thousands? How many ninth innings have I watched?

By any estimation method, it’s a lot. And I cannot say that I have ever seen a relief pitcher blow a save by throwing a wild pitch, in the dirt, behind a hitter.

That’s just what Jhoan Duran did on Wednesday. Faced with protecting a one-run lead, Duran trudged in from the bullpen like a man who was hoping it would rain before he got to the mound. Once he got there, he appeared to be working on finding good reasons to avoid throwing the ball to the plate - especially after walking Andres Giminez on four terrible pitches, three of which were splitters that went nowhere near the strike zone.

This was followed by a single to center. After a grounder back to Duran that the pitcher knocked down, preventing what could have been a game-ending double play, Duran faced Bo Naylor with two outs, a one-run lead, and runners on second and third - setting the stage for that remarkable, and remarkably bad, wild pitch.

To blame Duran entirely, though, would be doing a disservice to the many things that had to go wrong to even bring the game to that point. Start with Sonny Gray getting a rock in his shoe in the top of the seventh, after cruising through the first six innings. The rock seemed to completely derail Gray, mentally; he threw one wild pitch that was so wide it may have missed the opposing batter’s box, and another that was two feet over the hitter’s head (which turned into a foul ball when it hit his bat).

Gray got out of the inning, but the Twins took him out immediately, as he’d thrown a ton of pitches working around the rock.

The eighth started with Griffin Jax on the mound, giving up a weird double, as Gabriel Arias hit what appeared to be a catchable fly ball to Michael A. Taylor in center, who was in the game as a defensive replacement. Taylor didn’t catch it, seemed to forget to throw it back to the infield, and Arias raced to second.

Of course, that run came around to score after Caleb Thielbar - in the game to get left-handed hitter Steven Kwan out - instead gave up a two-strike single to left.

The Twins, of course, still believe wholeheartedly that left-handed batters are not allowed to get hits off left-handed pitchers (probably because they see this every day on their own team), so they pulled this move again in the tenth, bringing in lefty Kody Funderburk to get lefty Kole Calhoun out. Instead, Funderburk threw him three balls, then Calhoun launched a rocket into the right-center-field seats, completing the latest late-inning disaster for the Twins.

Feel free to add Duran and Funderburk to the Ron Davis wing of the Twins bullpen, next to Jax and Emilio Pagán. The Twins bullpen is in collapse mode. No lead is ever safe.

The Twins were one strike away from a seven-game AL Central lead. That’s now a five-game lead, and if I know this team, they have the wherewithal to make that a two-game lead as they head into Cleveland next week for another series with the Guardians.

Yes, the Twins are leading their division by five games. But losses like Wednesday’s are why fans have grown to dread this team.

Oh, and congrats to Carlos Correa for tying the franchise record by hitting into his 28th double play of the year, before we’ve even hit September 1.

Minnesota United FC has an astonishing seven draws at home this year, but they found the cure for their problems on Wednesday: simply play a home game against the worst team in the league.

Colorado looks like it would happily forfeit every game for the rest of the year, and the Loons helped kick some dirt on the Rapids, scoring three times in the first half and cruising to a comfortable 3-0 victory.

Emanuel Reynoso scored twice in the first half. The first was a penalty that was given away by a defender whose goal seemed to be to wrap him up like he was tackling a running back, but before Reynoso got into the penalty area, which is kind of a novel attitude toward defense. The second was from a rebound from a long shot, one on which every Colorado defender decided that the thing to do was to just stand still and see what might be happening, rather than thinking about clearing the rebound.

Teemu Pukki also scored for the Loons, and if you know how badly Pukki’s been going, you know how desperately bad Colorado’s defending must have been.

The standout for Minnesota might have been Ismael Tajouri-Shradi, who made his first start of the year, subbing for the injured Bongokuhle Hlongwane. The Loons’ midseason pickup created Reynoso’s second goal with the long shot, then strode through the Colorado midfield and picked out an inch-perfect pass to Pukki to create the team’s third goal.

It’s fair to say that “Izzy” has earned a place in fans’ hearts, if not a spot on the left wing, down the stretch run.

The St. Paul Saints won again on Wednesday, drawing within a half-game of the playoff spot that goes to the second-half International League winner. Because the league is so crowded, this still means they’re in fourth place, but beating Columbus 6-1 was the step towards potentially reaching the top of the standings as soon as today.

David Festa, a 23-year-old righthander making his first start at Triple-A, was the hero for the Saints, throwing five innings and allowing just one run on four hits while striking out seven. Festa hasn’t torn up Double-A this year or anything, and appears to be 16 years old, but he threw in the mid-90s and used a ton of changeups and mowed down the Clippers.

Jair Camargo hit a pair of RBI singles for St. Paul, Andrew Stevenson had two singles of his own, and Byron Buxton - playing center field for the first time in 2023 - walked twice and singled.

Finally, but most importantly: here is Naz Reid holding a Pronto Pup.


GOPHER FOOTBALL vs Nebraska, 7pm

SAINTS vs Columbus, 7:07pm


TWINS at Texas, Friday
LYNX vs Atlanta, Friday
GOPHER VOLLEYBALL at Florida, Sunday
VIKINGS vs Tampa Bay, September 10