Matt Shoemaker's second Twins start goes awry in a hurry

Phil Miller, Star Tribune
·4 min read

Like a freak spring squall, Matt Shoemaker's day went from gorgeous to cloudy so quickly, "abrupt" understates the turnaround.

The righthander, whose Twins debut last week was nearly spotless, continued to keep hitters off-balance for five seemingly effortless innings Sunday, allowing only three hits and no runs while striking out seven. It brought his season ERA to 0.82.

And it took only about 10 minutes to quadruple that gaudy number — and get him thrown out of the game.

"There were probably a few pitches in that last inning that he'd like back," manager Rocco Baldelli said.

Certainly that's true, but Shoemaker was bothered more by a pitch he'd like to keep, but just have it umpired differently.

Shoemaker surrendered a leadoff home run to Seager in the sixth, just the second run he had given up in his two starts with the Twins, on a pitch that was "just a hanging breaking ball," he said. "That's going to happen sometimes. Hopefully they miss it. He didn't miss it."

The next batter, Jose Marmolejos, hit a ball so high up the right-field wall, umpires had to check replay to make sure it wasn't a homer, too. Marmolejos settled for a double, then went to third on Luis Torrens' single. Both scored on the next pitch, which Taylor Trammell drove onto the right-field plaza, ballooning Shoemaker's ERA to 4.09 just like that.

As Trammell ran the bases, Shoemaker approached umpire Manny Gonzalez to remind him, for the second time, of a 1-2 sinker to Marmelejos that the pitcher believed was strike three. Gonzalez called it a ball.

"That changes the whole outcome of the whole inning," Shoemaker said. "I didn't say anything bad to him. I said something after he got on base, but I was like, 'Hey, you can't miss that. Like, c'mon.' "

There should have been one out and nobody on when Torrens hit, the pitcher said, but the situation was much more challenging. "But I've still got to bear down, make better pitches in those situations," he said.

When Trammell homered, Shoemaker's frustration boiled over, he said, though he still didn't swear. It didn't matter. Gonzalez ejected him before Baldelli could run out to prevent it.

"When I got tossed, which I was a little surprised — very surprised, actually — I didn't say anything bad. I kind of yelled, 'That changed the whole outcome of the inning.' That was enough for him," Shoemaker said. "It's even more frustrating now, because we should have won the game. We should never have been in that situation. I'm not blaming umpires at all. But in that situation, I definitely wanted that call."

Donaldson on mendJosh Donaldson hit a home run Sunday, too, though only the smattering of fans who paid to watch a workout on a chilly afternoon in St. Paul saw it.

Donaldson, rehabbing from the right hamstring tightness he suffered on Opening Day, had six at-bats in the informal scrimmage among Twins' minor leaguers at CHS Field, and hit one pitch into the seats.

He also played five innings of defense and did some running, the team said, and felt fine afterward.

That presents the Twins with a decision. Donaldson is eligible to be activated form the injured list Monday, presumably swapped out with reliever Brandon Waddell, who was called up last week in Detroit.

It's also possible the Twins wait another day to make sure the third baseman isn't too sore after Sunday's workout. Making that option more plausible is the forecast for rainy weather Monday, and their desire, after using five relievers Sunday, to keep Waddell around one more day in case he's needed.

Etc.• Miguel Sano swung at a cutter in the dirt in the third inning Sunday for strike three. It marked the first baseman's 23rd consecutive game in which he struck out at least once, tying the Twins franchise record held by Jake Cave. The major league record is 37 games, set by Yankees star Aaron Judge.

• Shortstop Andrelton Simmons, who tweeted in March about his refusal to be vaccinated against COVID-19, confirmed Sunday that he did not get a shot with his teammates after Thursday's home opener. Does he plan to? "I don't know," he said, without elaborating.

•Outfielder Brent Rooker, on the injured list because of a neck strain, is feeling better and will begin working out in St. Paul soon, Baldelli said.