PHILADELPHIA – Jake Odorizzi lasted only 36 pitches and two-thirds of an inning Friday, starting the Twins on their way to losing 10-4 in the first game of their series against the Phillies.
Odorizzi’s lack of pitching success put the Twins in a 5-0 hole in that first inning. But this fiasco was a group effort, not just the work of one flustered righthander.
Twins pitchers walked nine batters. Twins fielders committed three errors. Marwin Gonzalez overran a routine foul pop-up. Eddie Rosario dithered after fielding a single with the bases loaded, long enough for Bryce Harper to trick him and score from first. On. A. Single.
The Rocco Baldelli administration faces its first challenge to shake off an absolute stinker.
“This is a day where we’re not going to get it back,” Baldelli acknowledged, “but we have to look at it and acknowledge that we have to do better. But it does happen.”
While the Twins dealt with the aftermath of their horrific performance, Jorge Polanco was preparing to send his cleats to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. He hit a triple in the first inning, a single in the third, a home run in the fifth and then doubled in the seventh to become the 11th Twins player to hit for the cycle.
He’s the first Twin to do it since Michael Cuddyer on May 22, 2009, against the Brewers. It was the first cycle against the Phillies since the Nationals’ Brad Wilkerson did it on April 6, 2005.
“That’s cool, man,” Polanco said through an interpreter. “I feel very grateful to God for that opportunity that they’re giving me. They want my cleats in Cooperstown. That’s a pretty cool thing.”
It was one highlight during an otherwise dreadful game that was played during rain as an announced crowd of 28,021 enjoyed a laugher at the Twins expense. Baldelli and his staff spent postgame contemplating calling up fresh arms after six pitchers combined to throw 192 pitches.
Odorizzi knew he was in trouble from the start when he struggled to find the right grip on the ball because of the weather. He nearly hit Phillies leadoff man Andrew McCutchen with his first pitch.
“I was trying everything humanly possible to get a feel for the ball,” he said. “Blowing, wiping, the resin bag was soaked with water. It was really not much I didn’t try out there to try to find a grip.”
Baldelli took the ball from him with the bases loaded and two runs already in. Ryne Harper then gave up a two-run double by Maikel Franco, with a third scoring on an error by right fielder Jake Cave.
Four earned runs were charged to Odorizzi, and his two-out start was the shortest of his career.
Max Kepler hit a two-run homer to make it 5-2 in the third inning. The Twins closed to 6-4 in the fifth with two more runs, including Polanco’s homer. Philadelphia scored a run in the fifth to make it 7-4 before Rhys Hoskins singled to left in the seventh with the bases loaded. Two runs scored easily, and Bryce Harper, who went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts, caught Rosario holding the ball as he rounded third and scored from first.
How soon will they forget this one?
“It was weird out there,” said Polanco, who is 10-for-20 with six extra-base hits over his past four games. “Rainy, muggy, the field was heavy. We went out there and battled together. Things didn’t come out the way we wanted to today, but tomorrow will be another day.”