With the Chicago White Sox putting the finishing touches on a 16-4 victory on Monday night, the Minnesota Twins turned to Willians Astudillo to close out the game.
The utility infielder, who captured the imagination of Twins fans with a scoreless outing on Apr. 16, retired the first two batters but fell behind 3-0 to White Sox catcher Yermin Mercedes. On the next pitch, Mercedes blasted a 47 mph eephus pitch to the moon for a 16-4 lead.
Mercedes’ home run was a footnote on a miserable night for the Twins but Bally Sports North announcers Dick Bremer and Roy Smalley weren’t fans of Mercedes' decision to swing at a 3-0 pitch against a position player while up 11 runs.
“Does it matter?” Bremer asked Smalley on the telecast. “He swung away at 3-and-0?”
“I don’t like it,” Smalley responded. “At 15-to-4...I don’t like it. You’re going to get the same pitch after this.”
While Bremer and Smalley were paging through baseball’s book of unwritten rules, it ignores the situation that put Astudillo on the mound.
A rough night from J.A. Happ and several members of the Twins bullpen allowed 15 runs prior to Astudillo's appearance. With poor performances from most of the pitching staff and a doubleheader against the Los Angeles Angels coming on Thursday, Astudillo was one of few viable options for manager Rocco Baldelli in a game that had gotten out of hand.
Had the Twins put up a more competitive outing, Taylor Rogers, Alex Colomé and the rest of the Twins' bullpen could have tried to keep the game close. But there was no coming back from an 11-run deficit.
With two more games left against the White Sox, the Twins, who own the worst record in MLB at 13-26, will have a chance to get retribution for Mercedes' bomb beginning on Tuesday night.