Even though the Twins won on Tuesday, 3-2 over Tampa Bay, there was a moment in the fourth inning that was a great example of how a little thing can become a big thing.
Joe Ryan pitched for Minnesota, and with a 1-0 lead, he had one out and a runner on second. Josh Lowe hit a liner that was just to shortstop Carlos Correa’s right; Correa had to lean, but not move his feet or dive, to get to it, but the ball hit his glove and deflected into left field, allowing the run to score.
The runner had taken off with the liner, so if Correa had gloved it, Ryan would have been out of the inning. Instead, he had to throw 17 more pitches to retire the side.
Ryan allowed a homer in the fifth, and left trailing 2-1 (and without finishing five innings, needing 102 pitches to get through four and two-thirds). We can’t exactly draw a line between Correa’s error (note: it was scored as a hit), and Ryan’s fifth inning, but it didn’t help, and it certainly was a big contributor to Ryan not being able to pitch all the way through five innings.
That one little thing could have cost the Twins the game, especially given their bullpen struggles. But while I was ruminating on how a little thing could become a big thing, every other thing went just fine for Minnesota. Louie Varland finished off the fifth, plus the sixth and seventh for good measure, and in the bottom of the seventh, Willi Castro golfed a two-run homer over the wall in deep right-center to win it for the Twins.
Varland looks great as a reliever, and he’s going to have a fight on his hands next year when the Twins want to turn him into a setup guy and he wants to continue starting. He erased that little thing, for Minnesota, and made it not a problem.
Speaking of relievers, I was ready to put Jhoan Duran on the red-alert list after he blew a save by throwing a wild pitch behind a batter, but in four appearances since then he has four saves, and he’s allowed just two hits and only one run to score, and that was a 10th-inning ghost runner. So maybe everything is fine there.
Rocco Baldelli, a dad, referred to Castro’s new “dad ability” (he had his first child earlier this month) as being a difference-maker in this one, and as a dad myself, I want to nod heartily (but can’t, of course, because I’m asleep in a comfortable chair).
The U.S. Men’s National Team was in St. Paul on Tuesday night, playing an extremely important friendly against Oman. This game gave the USMNT a chance to (file not found) in front of new / old coach Gregg Berhalter, and against a team that has… honestly Oman’s greatest achievements as a soccer country might be a couple of wins in the Gulf Cup, a tournament I learned about just this minute? They’re ranked 73rd in the world now, a couple of spots above Honduras.
Whatever the reasons for the game, the USA did win 4-0, getting a rebound goal from Folarin Balogun, a lucky one from Brendan Aaronson, a pretty good one from Ricardo Pepi, and an own goal that came from a Kevin Paredes cross, which Paredes - making his national-team debut - celebrated as if he’d beaten three defenders and pounded a shot into the upper corner.
The CONCACAF Nations League can be pretty repetitive and boring, but I think it might be better than playing Uzbekistan and Oman. This was the soccer equivalent of college football’s guarantee games; USA 4, Tennessee-Chattanooga 0.
The next round of friendlies, in October, is Germany and Ghana, and I really wish St. Paul would have gotten one of those games instead of Oman.
The St. Paul Saints won on Tuesday, beating the hated* Iowa Cubs 4-1 behind a six-hitter shared by five different pitchers. Yunior Severino hit his 33rd home run of the year, and perhaps more impressively, Jair Camargo hit his first triple of the year, to get the St. Paul offense going enough in the early innings to clinch the victory.
*I don’t know if the Saints hate the Cubs, but they’re the nearest team in the league, so why not?
Durham won again, so the Saints are still four back with 11 to play in the second-half race. More importantly, I just noticed that the International League now has no teams outside the United States, and I cannot tell you how much this is bothering me.
The Wild have a preseason game eleven days from today - Sunday, September 24. Does that feel early to you? It feels early to me.
TWINS vs Tampa Bay, 12:10pm
LYNX at Connecticut, Game 1, 7pm
SAINTS at Iowa, 12:08pm
VIKINGS at Philadelphia, Thursday
GOPHER VOLLEYBALL vs High Point, Thursday
LOONS vs Sporting KC, Saturday
GOPHER FOOTBALL at North Carolina, Saturday