Until Simeon Woods Richardson took the mound Sunday, the Twins had never before asked a starting pitcher to make his big-league debut during the final week of a season.
It's easy to see why they did: even after being charged with a 5-2 loss to the Tigers at Comerica Park, a defeat that was hardly his fault, Woods Richardson surely made the Twins eager to see more from the righthander.
Alas, they will have to wait until 2023, when Woods Richardson, one of 13 rookies to debut for the Twins in 2022, will fight for a roster spot on a team that finished with a losing record for two consecutive seasons.
The Twins clinched that distinction with another error-filled, offense-starved defeat, losing the three-game series in Detroit and dropping the Twins to 77-82 with only a three-game series against the White Sox remaining.
"We saw a little bit of everything from Simeon, which is what he does. He's got a fastball with good carry on it. It has some cut on it as well, which makes it kind of unique," manager Rocco Baldelli said. "Breaking balls and changeup are all good options. … I like the way Simeon settled in to his start."
Woods Richardson, acquired from Toronto in the Jose Berrios trade a year ago, gave up only three hits over five innings. Yet he was charged with three of the Tigers' five runs, an outcome that must have made him wonder if he was the victim of a practical joke.
That's because, while Woods Richardson was still battling his I'm-really-here nerves in the first inning — "I was almost hyperventilating," he said — the Twins committed three errors, turning a walk and a single into a pair of runs.
Woods Richardson walked the first batter of his MLB career, Akil Baddoo, who promptly stole second base, then advanced to third when Ryan Jeffers' throw eluded Carlos Correa. After an out, Eric Haase hit a routine grounder to first baseman Jose Miranda, who didn't stop it as it scooted between his legs for another error.
Haase moved to third on a single by Miguel Cabrera, then scored easily on a wild pitch by Woods Richardson, with Cabrera moving to third base when Jeffers' throw bounced away from the pitcher covering home. That, at least, set up an escape from the messy first inning, when Jonathan Schoop flew out to Jake Cave, who then threw out Cabrera at the plate.
If Woods Richardson was bothered by that welcome-to-the-bigs fiasco, it didn't show. The 22-year-old, who mixes a 91-mile-per-hour cut fastball with a sharp curveball and a slider, gave up only two hits over his next four innings, though one of them was Haase's second home run in as many games.
"We needed to make some plays behind him, but we didn't," Baldelli said. "He didn't let that carry over in any way. The strike-throwing definitely improved, and it improved command-wise with all his pitches as he progressed. The way he responded was very good."
Trouble is, the Twins offense was a no-show once again, amassing only three hits on the day — two of them by Correa — and only one over the final five innings.
Their two fifth-inning runs were as much of a gift as the Tigers' first-inning pair: a dropped fly ball by Baddoo put Jeffers on base, and three consecutive walks by Tigers starter Joey Wentz brought him home. A sacrifice fly by Nick Gordon ended the inning, and the Twins' last threat.
- Luis Arraez was out of the lineup because of a sore hamstring, his AL-leading batting average remaining at .3155. New York's Aaron Judge went 0-for-3 with a walk during the Yankees' 3-1 loss to the Orioles, and stands at .3113.
- Righthander Trevor Megill warmed up to pitch the seventh inning, but he left the game without throwing a pitch after feeling unusual tightness in an oblique.
The Star Tribune did not send the writer of this article to the game. This was written using a broadcast, interviews and other material.