Heat, humidity get to Odorizzi early in loss

All-Star starter gives up 2 runs in 1st; AL Central lead down to 3 games

July 20th, 2019

MINNEAPOLIS -- Being in Minnesota, it wasn’t really possible for the Twins to fully anticipate the conditions that both teams saw at Target Field on Friday.

At 94 degrees and 65 percent humidity, the weather was so stifling that Twins starter Jake Odorizzi walked off the mound after the first inning and straight down into the home clubhouse to change his hat and jersey after they had become saturated with sweat during a lengthy opening frame.

“It was only like pitching in a rainforest,” Odorizzi said. “The humidity, you felt like you were eating the air.”

Odorizzi returned to the mound after his wardrobe change and was able to regain his command and pitch mix despite the challenging conditions, especially when a cooler breeze began to flow through Target Field in the middle innings. But still, the two runs that he allowed in that difficult first inning stood as the final margin in a 5-3 loss to the A’s.

With Minnesota’s loss and another Indians victory, the Twins’ lead in the American League Central shrunk to three games, the slimmest margin since May 6. Minnesota has gone 1-3 to open this homestand after taking two of three from Cleveland to begin the second half.

“I think I might be the lucky person that’s pitched the coldest and the hottest game of the year so far, so I’ve got a good perspective on the weather,” Odorizzi said. “It was definitely a unique one. You don’t see it too often in Minnesota, weather like that. You can’t control the weather, but it was warm.”

The conditions at first pitch marked the second hottest game in Target Field history, behind only a game contested at 97 degrees against the Orioles on July 16, 2012. That led to the slippery hands for Odorizzi, who hung a 1-1 fastball against leadoff hitter Marcus Semien that was deposited an estimated 385 feet away in the left-field bleachers.

He later allowed a two-out single to Mark Canha, a walk to Ramon Laureano and an RBI single to Khris Davis as part of a 25-pitch, two-run frame.

“Especially in the first inning, those were probably the toughest conditions really early on in the game,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “When you have just essentially just sweat pouring down your hand, it’s very challenging.”

Odorizzi said that much of the challenge was that he didn’t have a dry spot on his body to wipe away the moisture in that frame, as his pants and jersey were both soaked until he got the fresh uniform between innings. That did make a difference, though, as he recovered for three scoreless frames before a two-out RBI single by Matt Olson in the fifth inning knotted the game, 3-3, before Odorizzi’s exit.

“I felt like I was locating better, mixing better after the first inning, and I thought for the most part, stuff-wise, everything was good,” said Odorizzi, who struck out three and allowed six hits. “It was just an outing that was kind of frustrating from the standpoint of, the way I view it, I expect more. But there will be times for adjustments and to make improvements."

The right-hander was vocally frustrated after the game that he was removed after only 88 pitches, but Baldelli was resolute in his decision after the game, citing the challenging conditions and other elements of the game situation.

The normally reliable Ryne Harper entered the game for the sixth inning and allowed a double and a pair of singles to spot the A’s the final advantage on a night where the Twins’ offense was hitting the ball hard but didn’t get the results to show for it, as seven hard-hit balls (hit harder than 95 mph) were snared for outs by the Oakland defense.

All the while, Cleveland has been inching closer, with a series-opening victory over the Royals extending the Indians’ recent hot streak to 12 wins in their last 14 games, while the Twins have struggled with sloppy play -- and now, the challenges of Mother Nature. But still, they’re not losing perspective.

“We get to handle what we do every day, how we prepare, how we play,” Baldelli said. “We control our own destiny and that’s a good feeling, knowing that if we go out there and do our jobs, we should be in good shape.”