La Tortuga tosses clean inning for Twins

April 17th, 2021

With the Twins facing a seven-run deficit late in their 10-3 loss to the Angels on Friday night, Minnesota skipper Rocco Baldelli turned to the two utility players on his bench -- JT Riddle and -- and asked which of them wanted a turn on the mound.

As if he had a choice.

"You couldn't really get in Willians' way on this," Baldelli said.

The baseball world's favorite catcher/utility player/loser of batting helmets/representative of running chubby people didn't disappoint the Internet, and he certainly didn't disappoint the Twins, either, inducing two lineouts and a groundout in a perfect, seven-pitch inning, highlighted by a wonderfully middle-middle strike at 46 mph that would have made Zack Greinke jealous.

All eyes were fixed to the radar gun in the Twins' dugout.

"I mean, there's no way not to, right?" Baldelli said. "It's all part of it. But nice, clean inning, and no sweat for him. I don't think he broke a sweat."

It would have been hard for Astudillo to break a sweat, seeing as his slowest tracked pitch was that 46 mph strike and his fastest was a 72.5 mph offering on the outside corner that actually impressed the system enough for it to register as a fastball. His other tracked pitches clocked in at 59.0, 51.4 and 46.3 mph.

"I'm not surprised that he can throw [46] mph strikes and zip them in there when he wants a 75 mph fastball," Baldelli said. "He does it all."

But we say "tracked pitches" because, well, Astudillo broke the radar gun -- not by being too fast, but by being too slow.

What else can you expect from someone whose nickname is "La Tortuga" ("the turtle")?

Two of Astudillo's pitches to Luis Rengifo were so slow that the Statcast system didn't register them as pitches at all -- and as an unfortunate result, we'll never know the true extent of Astudillo's baseball-bending abilities, and the closest anyone has likely ever come to testing the boundaries of how slowly a baseball can be thrown and still put in play.

And that is a shame for fans of baseball everywhere.