A promising season came to a crushing end on Wednesday night when the Minnesota Twins were put down by Houston in Game 4 of the ALDS. The loss ended the best postseason run the Twins have had since 2002, and created a ton of buzz for fans to get excited about moving forward.
It also raised some questions about certain decisions that were made over the course of the game.
The volume on the Rocco Baldelli discourse got turned back up when he pulled Joe Ryan after just two innings of his start in Game 4. The strategy seemed to be that the team would lean on its bullpen to keep the Astros guessing and mitigate mistakes.
It was a plan that almost worked, but the Twins still made a few fatal mistakes that cost them the game and their season. The series of managerial decisions caused a stir with fans in the moment and was addressed by Rocco after the game.
Rocco Baldelli explains why he pulled Joe Ryan after two innings in Game 4 loss
After the loss, Rocco was asked about the decision to pull Ryan after only two innings of mostly decent work. His response wasn't exactly the biggest endorsement, but it might not have been as backhanded as it came across.
"Truthfully in an elimination game like we were in today, there's no reason to ride your starter. We wanted to get the best stuff out of Joe [Ryan] possible, which generally was going to be about one time through," Rocco said. "There was a chance he was going to go a little longer but at some point you just have to make a call as far as when that time is going to be."
That's not exactly a glowing endorsement of Ryan, but it's unlikley that Rocco meant it as a slight. Then again, Rocco's rocy relationship with his starting pitchers was a subplot entering Spring Training and appears to be one that bookends the season.
To be fair, one of the biggest concerns with Ryan was his struggles with giving up home runs, and he surrendered one before making it all the way through the order for the first time.
It seemed that the plan from the start was to pitch Game 4 as a bullpen game, and the home run allowed to Michael Brantley gave Rocco the nudge he needed to travel down that path. It almost worked, as one bad pitch from Caleb Thielbar ended up being the only mistake the bullpen made.
Chris Paddack was excellent, Griffin Jax was lights out, and Jhoan Duran managed two innings of one-hit work. Minnesota's bullpen, as stressful as it was to watch all season, had a run of fifteen straight outs before a hit was surrendered late in the game.
That's pretty good.
Minnesota's offense once again went silent when it was needed the most. Royce Lewis and Edouard Julien both homered, but they failed to do so with anyone on base. That, combined with the two mistakes by Ryan and Thielbar, ended up being the difference.