MINNEAPOLIS - The Minnesota Twins nearly got a combined no-hitter Tuesday night in a 6-3 win over the Kansas City Royals at Target Field.
Joe Ryan got the start and pitched seven complete innings without allowing a hit. He struck out nine and walked just two. He threw 106 pitches, 72 for strikes and any possibility of him coming out for the eighth ended between innings, when Rocco Baldelli shook his hand in the dugout.
"I definitely wanted to stay in the game, I understand why I came out. I don’t think I’ve earned the right to really fight with him too much on that. I’m never going to be mad at him for that," Ryan said. "The pitch count obviously comes into play, we’re trying to win some games and I’m throwing in five days again too. Going there for probably 135, haven’t done it this year. I totally understand we’re in the hunt so I think we just made the right decision for the team."
Jovani Moran entered in the eighth, and came to the mound from to bullpen to boos from fans. They were likely booing Baldelli, not happy with his decision to pull Ryan after seven innings. Moran got two strikeouts and a fly out to center field in a clean eighth. He came back out for the ninth and got a strikeout, but walked two batters and then the no-hit bid ended on Bobby Witt Jr.'s run-scoring double to left. It also ended the shutout, and the Royals added two more runs before Moran got a strikeout to end the game.
After the win, Baldelli stood by his decision to take Ryan out after seven innnings.
"The anxiety wasn’t really quite there just because looking at the situation, you want to let him keep going, but he also has to pitch in five days again in what’s going to be a very important situation for our team. Balancing all that, the decision was made to take him out of the game," Baldelli said. "At some point, you have to do what you think is right."
Ryan became the first Twins' rookie in franchise history to throw seven no-hit innings. It would've been the first combined no-hitter for the Twins in franchise history. The last Twins’ no-hitter came in 2011, by Francisco Liriano, against the Chicago White Sox. There have been four no-hitters in Major League Baseball this season, and three of them have involved at least two pitchers.
Baldelli is thinking ahead as the Twins travel to Cleveland later this week for a five-game series, a chance to get back into the race in the American League Central Division. The Twins got swept by the Guardians over the weekend, falling below .500 at 69-70.
Ryan will get one of those starts in Cleveland, and with being at 106 pitches after seven innings, there was no chance Baldelli was risking him going up to 130 pitches to finish off a potential no-hitter.
"In some ways I think he was of course pissed off and wants to continue and finish the game. The closer you get to the end of these kinds of games, the tougher it would ever be to take someone out of that game. 130 pitches, it wasn’t something he was going to get to today," Baldelli said.
Tuesday night’s win got them back .500 at 70-70, and within five games of the Guardians in the AL Central with 22 games to play.