Joe Ryan didn't even bother to try to scoop up the ball and make the out at first. Nor did he pause in his stomp toward the dugout.
The Twins rookie starter Tuesday afternoon left no question about whether he could continue the game, beelining straight for the tunnel back to the clubhouse, tossing his glove down in frustration on his way.
After striking out five batters and allowing only one run in five innings of a 3-1 loss to Cleveland in the first game of a doubleheader, Ryan took a line drive from Myles Straw off his right wrist — his pitching hand — in the top of the sixth. But his big display in leaving the game was mostly just a tantrum. The X-rays came back negative, the diagnosis was a right wrist bruise and Ryan deemed himself "fine" after the game. The rookie apologized for losing his composure in the way he left the field and said he felt more shock than pain, adding he's not too worried about missing his next start.
"That's the first time really anything on the field has happened to me, so I didn't really know the protocol," he said. "I should have handled that a little more professionally."
Ryan joked that his father is probably already planning on putting him through an offseason drill the two used to do growing up. Dad, as a catcher, would throw a tennis ball at his son right after he released a pitch to prepare him for a moment such as Tuesday.
Ryan left the game with the score tied at 1-1, but in the final inning after his departure, Danny Coulombe allowed a ground-ball single to center by Harold Ramirez, who advanced on Ben Rortvedt's passed ball. Coulombe then walked Bradley Zimmer ahead of Austin Hedges' RBI double to the left-field corner. Pinch hitter Yu Chang's infield bouncer scored another run to seal the Twins' loss.
That loss officially eliminated the Twins from the postseason. But the evening game provided a 6-3 victory, like soothing balm for the weary Twins.
Catcher Ryan Jeffers went 3-for-3, ramping up his production with each at-bat: a single in the second inning, a two-RBI double in the fourth and a two-run homer in the sixth.
"We've played a lot of games recently and have had some things going on schedule-wise that have been fairly difficult. Long days, a lot put into this," manager Rocco Baldelli said. "… We faced some adversity this week and being down early in this game didn't make it any easier, but we fought pretty well. … It was a good day. Ryan Jeffers had a great day."
Baldelli said it was especially gratifying to see Jeffers shine given what an up-and-down season he's had, not only at the plate but in having to carry more of the catching load than expected with Mitch Garver injured. Jeffers is only hitting .202 this season, down from .273 a year ago.
Jeffers is searching for consistency, and he found a taste of how to establish and build that Tuesday.
"It always boosts your confidence to see that first one fall," he said. "When you're in a little bit of slump like I am, when you're not consistently finding barrels, finding that first one, that leads to the next one, that leads to the next one, and it slowly builds that confidence."
A repeat of the afternoon disappointment seemed likely after starter Charlie Barnes allowed a four-hit, three-run third inning in the evening game, including back-to-back RBI doubles from Amed Rosario and Jose Ramirez before Franmil Reyes' RBI single. But the Twins' offense rebounded big, chasing Cleveland starter Logan Allen from the game in the bottom of the fourth.
Jorge Polanco and Miguel Sano hit singles off Allen before both scored on Jeffers' double to the left field corner. Willians Astudillo sent Jeffers home on his own RBI double off the right-field wall, with Nick Gordon's RBI single capped the the Twins' rally from a 3-0 deficit to a 4-3 lead.
The Twins extended that lead in the sixth inning. Rob Refsnyder hit a double down the left-field line, and Jeffers' homer — his sellout on a first-pitch fastball — to the center field deck sent them both home.