Ehire Adrianza was sitting on the bench when Twins manager Rocco Baldelli approached him with a question: Can you pitch?
“I never have before. But of course I said yes,” Adrianza said, and he took the mound for the ninth inning, with the Twins already trailing by seven runs. Adrianza gave up three more, surrendering five hits — a triple that Jake Cave unsuccessfully dived for, and two doubles — but he also registered his first career strikeout, whiffing Dominic Smith on a 62-mph pitch that the Statcast system labeled a curveball.
The Twins used catcher Chris Gimenez six times as a pitcher in 2017, and he, Mitch Garver, Willians Astudillo and Ryan LaMarre last season, but had not resorted to a position player on the mound this season.
Pretty easy, right Ehire?
“Not at all,” he said.
Some rest for Buxton
Byron Buxton was sent home before Tuesday night’s game, Baldelli said, in order to better treat his undisclosed concussion-like symptoms.
“Truthfully, with what he’s dealing with, him being here for the game probably doesn’t [make sense],” Baldelli said of Buxton, who was injured when his head slammed to the turf as he dove to catch an Oscar Mercado sinking liner in Cleveland on Saturday. “He wants to be here with his teammates, believe me. But this is a situation where we tell him that going home would probably be the best thing.”
Buxton was due to return to the ballpark Wednesday in order to undergo examination and further testing to determine whether his symptoms will linger. He was placed on the seven-day concussion list a day earlier, and isn’t eligible to play again until Sunday.
Playing without him is a big adjustment, Baldelli said.
“He brings something that nobody else brings. His game has personality,” Baldelli said of the 25-year-old outfielder. “It’s a very unique skill set, it’s a very unique energy. It’s making certain plays and doing certain things. He changes the game in a different way than you see from anybody else.”
It shows in the record, too. The Twins are 52-23 when Buxton plays this season, and 6-13 when he doesn’t.
Mild strain for Schoop
The Twins did get some good injury news for a change, however. Jonathan Schoop, who left Tuesday night’s game in the ninth inning after tweaking something in his rib cage, was diagnosed with a mild abdominal strain, and it appears he won’t require a stint on the injured list.
A day later, Baldelli was still marveling over Luis Arraez’s ninth-inning walk against Mets closer Edwin Diaz on Tuesday. Arraez substituted for Schoop when he was pulled mid-at-bat, facing an 0-2 count. The rookie fouled off four pitches while letting four balls go by, eventually taking his base and becoming the potential tying run.
“I don’t know how many people in the entire world could have the at-bat that he had last night. I mean that. I’m not trying to be overly dramatic here,” Baldelli said. “There are only a few people out there that have the skill set and the general feel in the batter’s box and the ability to do that. You could probably write a whole story or write a book about the at-bat that you saw last night, you know?”
All streaks must end
The Twins had been 8-0 after back-to-back losses until Wednesday. The beginning of their three-game losing streak came in Game 92, the latest a team has gone without a trio of consecutive losses since the 2009 Dodgers lost games 98-100. The Mariners of 2001, a team that won 116 games, didn’t start a three-game skid until Game 147, and the 1902 Pirates completed a 139-game season without ever losing three straight.