Thursday night was yet another embarrassing loss by a Minnesota Twins team that has made a habit out of playing with its food.
More than that, it was a loss that seemed all too familiar, following a frustrating pattern that scarred fans last season.
Starter Sonny Gray was yanked by manager Rocco Baldelli after just four innings of work. To be fair to Rocco, it was an uncharacteristically rough outing for Gray, who allowed two runs on three hits but walked four batters in 79 pitches. Still, the optics of Rocco pulling a starter before the sixth inning — in this case even earlier — to rely on a shaky bullpen weren’t great. Neither was the end result, as the bullpen burped up all over itself to give up an 8-4 loss.
It was a move, and an outcome, that was obviously not well received by anyone. That includes Gray, who after the game didn’t try to hide his displeasure with getting yanked despite having a lead.
Sonny Gray explains tense conversation with Rocco Baldelli
As one would expect, Gray didn’t have a pleasant conversation with Baldelli whole being informed he wasn’t going to continue in the game.
He shed some light on that to both give further context of the tense conversation but clear the air a bit as well.
"It’s probably something we’re going to have to clear the air about, but I want to stay in the fight for as long as I can,” Gray said of his talk with Baldelli. “I’m super competitive, and when I don’t have it, I still feel I can get a job done. I think that was all it was."
No starter is itching to get pulled from their start, even when it’s going poorly. Despite not having his best stuff on Thursday, Gray remained adamant that he could have powered through.
"Physically, mentally, I felt good. Obviously, I had a long fourth and I wasn’t throwing the ball exactly how I would have liked to,” Gray said. “I know that I walked some guys here and there. But at the same time, I felt like I was continuing to battle, continuing to fight."
This isn’t the first time Gray has barbed Rocco with comments about managing pitchers. This spring he took a shot at the way the starters were handled last season, a sentiment that was shared by fans who had been saying essentially the same thing for months.
It’s worth noting that none of the criticism seems to be anything more than that. Hearing a Cy Young candidate box his manager’s ears about how he’s being handled is easy to interpret as a beef but this seems to be nothing more than a professional disagreement.
Any drama that could exist in a situation like this doesn’t seem to be booking over where it otherwise might.
That doesn’t make the situation any less frustrating.