Thank the 'Rally Goat' for this WILD walk-off

April 27th, 2022

MINNEAPOLIS -- The simple explanation for the craziest finish to a Major League game of this young 2022 season, per Tigers catcher Eric Haase, is that the baseball was cold and wet when he airmailed the throw over the head of third baseman Jeimer Candelario, botching the game’s decisive rundown and pushing the Twins to a ridiculous 5-4 walk-off victory on Tuesday.

But clearly, he knows nothing of the power of the mythical goat figurine that had just made its way into the Twins’ dugout.

The Twins extended their winning streak to five games, and two of them have been gifted to them by inexplicable late misplays by some combination of opposing defenders -- both in the presence of “Richie the Rally Goat.” This time, the Twins had even erred first before the Tigers answered back by erring even more decisively, leaving the Twins to celebrate, laugh and contemplate in disbelief.

“Once in a while, you walk away and you just kind of throw your hands in the air, and you smile, and you take the win,” manager Rocco Baldelli said.

“Richie the Rally Goat;" Credit: Do-Hyoung Park/

With men on first and second against Tigers closer Gregory Soto, Miguel Sanó laced a line drive to right field that originally looked like it would be caught before it caromed off the glove of Robbie Grossman, leading to utter chaos on the basepaths.

Lead runner Trevor Larnach stopped at third base, apparently leaving a bases-loaded situation behind him. But when the throw home by the cutoff man went wide of the plate, Sanó broke for second, forcing Gio Urshela, the runner at second, to try for third -- all while Larnach stayed put at third, because he was staring at Haase and had no idea of the jam behind him.

With Urshela converging on Larnach at the third-base bag, Haase threw to third instead of running back to the bag -- and the throw sailed over Candelario’s head into left field, allowing both Larnach and Urshela to score one of the most chaotic walk-offs you’ll ever see.

“We made some boo-boos on the bases, and we somehow made our way out of it and smell like roses,” Baldelli remarked. “Sometimes, that’s the way it happens. I don’t know what I’m even talking about right now.”

"I was laughing,” Larnach said. “It's not funny on his part, but to me, that's the game-winner. That's kind of a funny way to go out."

When so many misplays and misjudgments on both sides ultimately end in that kind of insane ending, is it really all too far-fetched to consider that a one-inch-tall goat might have had something to do with it? Because there’s a growing sect of believers in the Twins’ clubhouse -- led by Chris Paddack, its keeper.

Please do hear them out.

The origin of Richie, as it’s named, remains shrouded in mystery. The only consensus is that Sonny Gray likely had something to do with it in Kansas City. (Gray was not around to field questions.)

“Don't hold me on this, [but] Sonny bought it at Barnes & Noble when we were in Kansas City,” Paddack explained. “That could be false. It could have been in the clubhouse and we stole it.”

“I don't know,” Bailey Ober said. “Someone bought it and brought it into the clubhouse there. That's all I kind of know. And then Paddack, I guess, stole it? I don't know.”

All we know is that the Barnes & Noble website lists a “Screaming Goat” figurine for $9.95 that bears a suspicious resemblance to Richie. All the Twins know is that Richie has been in the dugout for three games.

The first? Friday’s series opener against the White Sox, when a pair of throwing errors by Tim Anderson and José Abreu on one play handed the Twins a come-from-behind victory. The second? Sunday’s series finale against Chicago, when Paddack posted an Instagram photo of Richie on the dugout rail before Byron Buxton hit two homers -- a game-tying two-run blast in the seventh, and a walk-off three-run shot in the 10th.

And the third? Tuesday.

Paddack had finished up his arm care following his 5 2/3 strong innings, when he ran into Chris Archer in the clubhouse after the Twins had fallen behind in the eighth, on Javier Báez’s go-ahead, three-run blast off Emilio Pagán. Paddack asked for the secret weapon. Archer delivered it.

“He's like, 'We need the rally goat!'” Archer said. “I was like, 'All right. I'll grab it. I'll run it out there.' Then as soon as I grabbed it, [Luis] Arraez got on first [to begin the eighth], but nothing came from that inning. And then the next inning, I'm like, 'Guys, the goat's here. Richie's here.' I don't think anybody heard me.”

The goat, evidently, did not need to be noticed to deliver its power. Soto couldn’t find the strike zone against the first two batters of the inning, walking both, and Sanó strode to the plate two batters later. And whether or not you believe in goat magic, it seems like as good an explanation as any for whatever on earth transpired to end this ballgame.

“We only bring it out when it feels right,” Archer said. “We're not going to use it all the time. We're only going to bring it out when it feels right."

“They brought him back out tonight, and look what happens,” Paddack said. “Baseball gods are looking out for us, and Richie here, he's done a good job of being a rally goat.”