This was... not a fun game. You can quote me on this.
Gant did not have his best stuff. Working slowly and missing away on multiple non-competitive pitches, Gant lost Mauer on a full-count walk to lead off the game, and moved him up to 2B with an odd wild pitch. After getting Dozier to fly out to RF, Max Kepler drilled a line drive into the RF to give the Twins an early lead. Then, after Escobar struck out swinging, Eddie Rosario built on that lead with another double into the RF corner. Gant ultimately got Grossman to ground out to 1B on his 32nd pitch of the inning. 2-0 Twins.
Rosario fared a bit better. After walking lead off batter Matt Carpenter, he caught Bader staring at a perfectly-located fastball low and away for a strike out. Last night’s hero, Dexter Fowler, vied for an encore with a long fly ball to LF, but was robbed at the wall by Eddie Rosario. Rosario then used his 3/4 arm slot to coax a rapidly expanding strike zone and strike out Ozuna with a ball well off the plate. He threw 17 pitches.
Gant needed a bounce back inning, and against the punchless bottom of the Twins lineup, he got it. He induced a ground out to SS from the catcher Bobby Wilson, then struck out Ehire Adrianza and his counterpart Romero. He was now at 46 pitches.
Romero kept rolling. He struck out Gyorko with a slider to start the inning, before allowing a double to Paul DeJong. He then recovered to strike out Wong and get Kelly to ground out to SS. He was at 31 pitches.
Gant picked up where he left off, this time against the top of the Twins lineup. He got Mauer to ground out sharply to 2B, Dozier to strike out swinging, and got Kepler to fly out to medium CF. He was almost back on track at 58 pitches.
Featuring a fastball that sat 96-98mph and a wipeout slider, he struck out both Gant and Carpenter before allowing a single to RF to Harrison Bader. But he got Fowler to ground out on a comebacker to end the inning. He was at just 44 pitches.
Escobar single RF, Rosario pop out foul territory, Grossman single (escobar to 3B), wilson sac fly to the wall LCF, Adrianza bunt single, Romero K.
Though Gant appeared to be back on track, Minnesota had other plans. Eduardo Escobar led off with a single through the right side and, after Rosario popped out into foul territory, advanced to third on Grossman’s single to (you guessed it!) RF. Wilson then uncorked a long, long fly ball that died just short of the wall in Bader’s glove for a sac fly. Romero struck out to end the inning on Gant’s 73rd pitch. 3-0 Twins.
Rosario was looking positively electric at this point. He struck out Ozuna with a 97mph fastball, then got Gyorko to ground out on a 98mph fastball. After DeJong single through the left side, he got Wong to ground out to 1B with a change up. He was now at 61 pitches.
Gant recovered well in the 5th. Still occasionally missing badly, he nevertheless set the Twins down in order, getting Mauer to ground out to SS, and getting Dozier and Kepler to fly out to CF. He was now at 86 pitches.
The Cardinals squandered another chance in the 5th. After Carson Kelly led off with a painful-looking HBP and advanced to 2B on Gant’s sac bunt, Carpenter struck out on a questionable check swing and, after Bader walked, Fowler flew out to short RF. Romero was up to 81 pitches.
Lessons may have been learning in the 6th. After Gant & Kelly retaliated against the Twins for plunking Kelly by firing a fastball under the chin of Escobar, the Twins’ third baseman worked a walk and, after Rosario flew out to CF, came around to score on Grossman’s double off the wall in RCF. This double on Gant’s 97th pitch, which was unsuccessfully challenged, ended his afternoon. Matt Bowman relieved, and sandwiched a pair of strike outs to Wilson & Romero around an intentional walk to Adrianza. 4-0 Twins.
Romero kept having his way with the anemic Cardinal offense. After walking Ozuna with 5 balls, he got Gyorko to ground directly to Dozier, who was standing on 2B and started an extremely easy 4-3 double play. DeJong struck out to end the frame. Romero was at 97 pitches, and his debut was complete.
Bowman remained in the game to eat some innings for his beleaguered bullpen. He got Mauer and Dozier to ground out to 2B, the latter of which came on a hard grounder up the middle right at Wong in the shift. After Kepler singled to CF, Bowman struck out Escobar on a high fastball.
Trevor Hildenberger relieved Romero. The side-armed righty struck out Wong on 3 pitches, got Kelly to ground out to SS on 2 pitches, and got pinch-hitter Greg Garcia to ground out softly to 3B on 3 pitches.
Ryan Sherriff relieved Bowman, and the game ended. I’m serious. Rob Manfred came out in a miniature F150 and yelled at Mike Matheny for wasting the good people’s time, then sent everyone home with a partial refund.
What actually happened was that the Cardinal lefty was smacked around the park. Eddie Rosario greeted him with a double to RCF, and scored on Robbie Grossman’s single to RF. Wilson then doubled past Gyorko down the LF line to score Grossman. Ryan Lamarre followed with a single to LCF, on which Wilson tried to score but was gunned down by DeJong’s relay throw. Mercifully, Mike Winters gifted Sherriff a strike out of Mauer on a ball off the plate, and Dozier popped out to RF to end the frame. 6-0 Twins.
The Cardinals answered with a whimper. Matt Magill relieved Hildenberger, and got Carpenter to fly out to CF, Bader to ground out to 2B, and Fowler to pop out to short CF.
Luke Gregerson relieved Sherriff, and set the Twins down in order. He got Kepler to ground out to 1B, Escobar to strike out swinging at a change up, and Rosario to pop out to RF.
Magill remained in to close the game out. He struck out Ozuna on an awful, outside, called strike 3, struck out Gyorko with a well-placed low fastball and, after DeJong guided his 3rd hit of the game through the left side of the infield, got Wong to ground out to 2B. Twins win 6-0.
John Gant: 5.1 IP, 4 ER, 6 H, 5 K, 2 BB, 0 HR, 49 GSc
Fernando Romero: 6.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 H, 9 K, 3 BB, 0 HR, 73 GSc
- DeJong’s 2nd inning double was his first hit in 15 ABs, and first extra base hit in 28 ABs (he has 8 walks in that time, however.)
- Kurt Warner threw out to first pitch, and joined the broadcast in the 3rd inning. Danny Mac could not have been more taken with him if he was military personnel.
- Mike Winters was the home plate umpire, which should tell you all you need to know about the size and consistency of the strike zone.
- Paul DeJong had 3 of the Cardinals’ 4 hits.
- Mondays aren’t as fun as the weekend.