Joe Ryan helps lead Twins past Guardians
Ryan turned in another strong effort, propelling the Twins to a 3-1 win in the series finale at Target Field
MINNEAPOLIS — Joe Ryan bounded off the mound and raced towards the Guardians’ dugout early in Sunday’s game, his eyes intently tracking a foul ball off Steven Kwan’s bat.
Ryan called off his catcher Ryan Jeffers, who sat down to avoid a collision. The starter then spun around to the Twins’ dugout, saw Sonny Gray laughing and flashed a five, followed by two zeroes toward his teammates.
That 500, he said, is for a side bet that members of the rotation have. For every foul ball they catch, each member of the rotation must pay them $100. And so just two batters into Sunday’s game, Joe Ryan was already a winner. Nine innings later, the whole team walked away victors, too. The Twins beat the Guardians 3-1 on Sunday, capping off their longest homestand of the season on a winning note.
They did so in large part on the strength of Ryan’s quality start, in which he twirled six innings and threw 103 pitches — a new career high for him and tops for a Twins (20-15) starter this season.
“We really needed a good start from Joe Ryan and he gave us exactly what were looking for. He gave us six innings. We stretched him out a little bit,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “He threw the ball really well. Sending him back out there to face those guys again, he looked very comfortable and still at ease even late in his outing. Our bullpen was fantastic. Our defense was very solid.”
Ryan rebounded from a start in which he issued an uncharacteristic five walks to give up none on Sunday, his only blemish in the game a solo home run to perennial MVP candidate José Ramírez in the fourth inning. He allowed up just four hits and struck out five.
He relied heavily on his fastball, throwing it 76 percent of the time during his outing.
“(The) heater felt good,” he said. “Liked where I was putting that. Established that early and it just gave me options to go anywhere else, use my secondary stuff whenever I want. I like using my fastball and it was working, I (kept) riding with it.”
And though the Twins finished with just four hits, he received just enough offensive support. The Twins struck in the first inning after Luis Arraez walked, stole second base and came around to score on a Max Kepler single. Gio Urshela broke open what had then become a tie game with a home run in the bottom of the fourth — his second home run in as many days — and Byron Buxton added a solo shot of his own — his team-leading 11th — in the fifth inning.
That was enough to make a winner of Ryan — again.
Perhaps the only downside of Ryan’s day came in the sixth inning when he again signaled for a pop up near the foul line.
This one, Jeffers snagged instead. After the catcher pulled it down, Ryan raised his palms up and Jeffers apologized.
“I was laughing and telling him sorry about it after I caught it,” Jeffers said. “‘Sorry, dude! Can’t let you get that one.’”
Perhaps, Ryan suggested, the catchers have their own side bet going on, though Jeffers quickly threw cold water on that hypothesis.
So instead, Ryan will have to settle for $500, which he said he would put in an index fund and let it grow, and a win.
“I’m glad we’re talking about this,” Baldelli said. “It means the game went real well and then we can move on to the side wagers and things like that.”
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