Sonny Gray aided by pitch clock in Twins’ win
After walking the bases loaded, Gray was gifted an 0-1 count after Royals designated hitter Franmil Reyes' pitch clock violation
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Sonny Gray made it through five scoreless innings Saturday. But it was anything but smooth for the veteran starter.
After a quick seven-pitch first inning, he faced traffic in the final four frames of his start in a game the Twins would go on to win 2-0 over the Royals at Kauffman Stadium. Some of that was his own doing.
“Didn’t have great stuff and didn’t have good command at all,” Gray said. “It just felt a tick off.”
So it came as somewhat of a gift in the third inning when, after walking the bases loaded, Royals designated hitter Franmil Reyes was rung up for a pitch-clock violation for not being ready in time, which caused an automatic strike to be added to the count.
All of a sudden, in the biggest moment of his start, Gray’s job suddenly became easier through nothing of his own doing.
“It’s 0-1 and you can start expanding the zone a little earlier than maybe you would have,” Gray said. “He saw one less pitch throughout that. … It worked out on our side, so it was kind of a nice little, ‘Oh, it’s 0-1!’ That was a different situation.”
Gray would go on to strike out Reyes, escaping the biggest threat he faced in the game. After his start, Gray said he had a “lot of adjustments, a lot of self-evaluating,” to do in the days preceding his next start, which will come in the home opener at Target Field.
“(I have to) definitely attack the zone more,” Gray said. “I felt like I did that so good all spring and I know that walks, a lot of them were deep count walks and you missed with a pitch. Just didn’t have as much going for me today. We’ll definitely take a win and we’re not going to complain about that.”
With a two-run lead in the ninth inning on Saturday, Twins manager Rocco Baldelli turned to Jorge Lopez to lock down the save. Lopez did so, and did it efficiently.
But why Lopez and not Jhoan Duran?
“He slept pretty funny,” Baldelli said of Duran.
Baldelli said his neck and arm were affected, and it was evident during catch play on Saturday afternoon that it didn’t look the way it should, rendering him unavailable for Saturday’s game against the Royals.
“We don’t think it’s going to be a long-term issue,” he said. “ … We’re hoping he wakes up tomorrow in a significantly better place and that’s what we anticipate.”
The Royals honored former Twins vice president of player personnel, Mike Radcliff, who died this February from pancreatic cancer with a moment of silence before Saturday’s game. Radcliff was a native of the Kansas City area. … The Twins trotted out the same lineup on Saturday as they did on Opening Day. They did not do that once last season.
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