It has come to be that one of the main attractions for the 2017 Twins is watching a 44-year-old pitch. Include me in this category since while watching Friday’s Twins game on DVR (a sickness in and of itself), I found myself fast-forwarding through the Twins at-bats to get to Bartolo Colon pitching again.
The reward was seeing Colon go all nine innings, becoming the oldest American League pitcher to throw a complete game victory since Nolan Ryan did it 25 years ago.
The performance, though, wasn’t just a testimonial for aging gracefully. It was also a lesson in how fragile a narrative can be.
Colon started the game by allowing hits to three of the first four Texas batters, with two runs crossing the plate. He escaped the first inning without more damage only after a hard-hit double play grounder. At that point, he looked to be on a trajectory for a quick hook.
As veterans do, Colon settled down — only to find himself in an even more dicey situation in the fifth inning. The Twins were leading 5-3, but Texas had runners on first and second with newly minted 3,000-hit club member Adrian Beltre at the plate. Rookie reliever Alan Busenitz was warming up in the bullpen.
Colon delivered a quality 2-2 pitch low and away, but Beltre punched it toward right field. Robbie Grossman got a good jump, then slid to make a very good catch to end the inning.
If the ball had been struck 10 feet in either direction, or if Grossman had stalled at all, it probably would have been a run-scoring hit and Colon’s night might have been over with four runs allowed in fewer than five full innings. The postgame discussion would have focused on Colon’s shaky start and advancing age, particularly if the Twins had lost.
Instead, the out was recorded. The Twins added some insurance runs. And Colon kept pitching and pitching until it was over — when all we could do was marvel at this aging pitcher still succeeding.
• The slide that turned the Twins from buyers to sellers at the trade deadline was influenced heavily by a sweep in Los Angeles at the hands of the Dodgers.
It probably won’t make Minnesota feel any better about those three mostly competitive losses, but there is this: those three wins were part of a 50-game stretch in which the Dodgers went an incredible 43-7. That was the best 50-game run for any MLB team in more than 100 years — since the 1912 Giants.
• The Vikings had a dangerous plan at offensive tackle in 2016, entering the season relying on players who were either unproven, ineffective, injury-prone or some combination of the three. Tackle play ended up being a large part of Minnesota’s undoing, leading the Vikings to sign Riley Reiff and Mike Remmers in the offseason.
Beyond those two upgrades, though, the Vikings didn’t do much to address their tackle depth. The prevailing thought seemed to be that they couldn’t be as unlucky again with injuries as they had just been in 2016.
Maybe they will be proven correct, but when backup Rashod Hill was carted off during Saturday’s practice (he returned quickly to the sidelines) while Reiff was still out because of back problems, it was hard not to think the Vikings have a dangerous plan again in 2017.