Hubris gets us all. I was far from the only person to kick dirt on the Guardians’ grave after Tuesday’s game, so naturally, Cleveland came back on Wednesday and held the Twins to two lousy hits, as Minnesota lost 2-1.
Royce Lewis got a single and Andrew Stevenson hit an RBI single, and that was it for Minnesota. Edouard Julien walked twice, making him the only Twin to stand on first base more than once.
To their credit, the Twins pitchers did a good job - four innings from Joe Ryan, three from Louie Varland, in a possible preview of what the Twins would do in Game 3 or 4 of any potential playoff series. It seems clear that Minnesota has about six starting pitchers that they view as somewhat untrustworthy - basically, everyone but Sonny Gray or Pablo López - and so their plan is to combine several in opener / long relief fashion.
Right now, you’d have to say that Ryan is the most likely to start a potential Game 3; I’m not totally sure how much room the postseason roster might have for potential relief appearances from all of Varland, Dallas Keuchel, Kenta Maeda, and Bailey Ober.
Minnesota has 22 games remaining now. They have six - three with Tampa Bay, and three with Cincinnati - against teams that might make the playoffs. This does not prevent them from losing - they are, after all, just 26-22 against the rest of the AL Central this year - but in terms of a stretch drive to clinch a playoff spot, you can’t ask for a lot more than what they’re getting.
I guess we should put it this way: if the Twins do miss the playoffs this year, it’ll be one of the worst collapses in baseball history.
I didn’t watch St. Paul’s game in Louisville on Wednesday, which is probably for the best because it was an all-time disaster, followed by an all-time triumph. The Saints hit three home runs in the first inning and led 5-0 before the Bats had a chance to… bat. They carried that lead into the bottom of the 8th, when Louisville turned a 6-2 deficit into an 8-6 lead, thanks to a dramatic grand slam.
Faced with this horrifying swing in momentum, the Saints… strung together four singles and walk to re-take the lead in the ninth, followed by a Trevor Larnach grand slam to make it 13-8, which was the final score.
That’s 13 grand slams for St. Paul this year, including two in the last two days; Larnach also hit one of the first-inning homers, and ended the day with six runs batted in to lead the Saints.
It’s been kind of a weird year for Larnach. In 50 games with the Twins, he batted .216 and struck out 67 times; in 63 games in St. Paul, he’s hit .246 and struck out 80 times. All of that is bad, but he also has 67 walks across both levels, which makes his on-base numbers a lot more respectable; he’s also hit 14 homers for St. Paul, giving him an .852 OPS for the year in Triple-A.
This is kind of league-average, for the International League - if you include everybody, it’s 14th on the Saints this year - but it’s also not terrible. This has sort of been the deal with Larnach, who’s been more or less like this for 180 games in the majors and 87 at Triple-A.
Anyway, Michael Helman and Yunior Severino and Austin Martin also homered for St. Paul. Severino is up to 31 homers for the year - 24 with Wichita, and now seven in 97 plate appearances with St. Paul. He’s also struck out 149 times across both levels, so I declare him ready to be a Minnesota Twin.
SAINTS at Louisville, 5:35 pm
TWINS vs New York Mets, Friday
LYNX at Chicago, Friday
GOPHER VOLLEYBALL vs Oregon, Friday
LOONS vs New England, Saturday
GOPHER FOOTBALL vs Eastern Michigan, Saturday
VIKINGS vs Tampa Bay, Sunday