Jake Odorizzi’s no-hit bid was the dominant story in the Twins’ 3-1 victory over New York on Wednesday, but there were other events worth noting:
Mitch Garver caught the first two innings, but was hit in the mask by a foul ball that shook him up.
“He took a shot. He said he wanted to try to finish the inning, but he got his bell rung pretty good,” said Twins manager Paul Molitor, who replaced Garver with Willlians Astudillo for the third inning. “The tests are looking good right now, in terms of concussion symptoms. We feel pretty good about it, but you never know. We’ll follow up tomorrow and see how he progresses.”
Astudillo walked into something he had never experienced before: A no-hitter. “Never in my life did I dream I was going to be doing that,” he said through an interpreter. “All I did was go out there and give my best.”
He sat in on Odorizzi’s pregame meeting to go over the gameplan, so he felt ready, though he relied on Odorizzi to make most of the decisions about what pitch to throw. “Whatever he wanted. He was locating pitches. I just followed the steps and it worked out for awhile,” said Astudillo, who had never caught Odorizzi outside of the bullpen.
“I just kind of took over the game. I was shaking [him off] a lot, but we’d never thrown to each other in a game,” Odorizzi agreed. “So I was just calling my game out there. I told him, ‘Don’t take any offense to me shaking a ton, but I know these guys. I’m just going to throw what I feel.’ He didn’t, so it was good.”
Astudillo will be remembered far more for his hitting — and especially his baserunning — than his catching in this one, however. The rookie cracked a two-out single in the seventh inning to score Jake Cave, his ninth RBI in just 18 games with the Twins. And when Max Kepler followed with a long drive to left-center that Aaron Hicks dove for, unsuccessfully, Astudillo raced around the bases, his long hair blowing in the wind after losing his helmet around second base.
“Man, I don’t know,” Molitor laughed at the play. “That was painful to watch that jaunt around the bases.”
OK, so he’s not Usain Bolt, but you have to give Astudillo credit for chugging along as fast as he could.
"I just wanted to show that chubby people also run,” he joked. “I saw the outfielder. It was going to be an uncomfortable play for him to make. And it was two outs, so I just hustled.”
Odorizzi wasn’t the only Twin to turn in an impressive pitching performance. After Bird broke up his no-hitter, Taylor Rogers came in to face Gleybar Torres, and Rogers blew him away on four pitches, the last a curveball that dove into the dirt as Torres flailed at it. It was Rogers’ 22nd consecutive scoreless appearance, a streak of 19 2/3 innings that dates back to July 30.
Then Trevor Hildenberger took over, and he struck out Andrew McCutchen to strand Bird and end the inning. In the ninth, Hildenberger gave up a one-out single to Miguel Andujar, bringing the tying run to the plate — with Giancarlo Stanton and Didi Gregorius coming up.
Not a problem. Stanton hit a hard liner that Max Kepler caught in right field practically without moving, and Gregorius grounded out to Joe Mauer to end the game.
“The game was a little too close for comfort at the end,” Molitor said. “Big-league save for Hildy [his sixth of the season] to come in after the no-hitter and all the emotion, and have to face that part of the lineup and get four outs.”
By taking the no-hitter so far, Odorizzi recorded an eighth-inning out for the first time this season, becoming just the third Twins starter to do so this year, after Jose Berrios and Kyle Gibson. He threw 120 pitches, which was eight more than any other game this year, and tied his career high set in 2016. (A remarkable accomplishment, considering he had thrown 88 pitches during the first five innings.)
Molitor, normally leery of extending a pitcher beyond about 110 pitches, said he was willing to allow Odorizzi to go as far as he wanted, even the ninth inning if the no-hitter was still intact. His nightmare scenario, he said, was if Odorizzi walked a couple of batters to further bloat his pitch count without allowing a hit. But it didn’t happen.
Odorizzi said he felt terrific as the game went on, especially after needing just 14 pitches in the sixth inning and only nine in the seventh. “I didn’t feel like my velocity dropped. My stuff stayed the same” in the late innings, he said. “I felt like I was in control of the game from start to finish. I never really felt like I had to come to them with much.”
So would he have asked to pitch the ninth, with a pitch count already in the 120s or more?
“Absolutely. What’s the difference between 120 and 140? Not much. You’re going to be sore the next day anyway,” Odorizzi said. “There’s not too many chances you get to do something special. We’ll never know how many it would have taken, but I appreciate what Mollie was willing to do for me in letting me go out there.”