NEW YORK — The Twins’ postgame clubhouse Saturday afternoon was a mix of quiet commotion, frustration and confusion — and it had little to do with the final score in a 6-1 loss to the Yankees which ended their four-game winning streak.
Some players expressed suspicion that New York starter Domingo Germán’s pitches were moving more than expected during a dominant outing, perhaps wondering about foreign substances that might have impacted his pitches. In reality, it was a different point of contention than the one that resulted in Minnesota manager Rocco Baldelli being ejected before the fourth inning at Yankee Stadium.
Baldelli disputed that Germán was asked to rid his hands of an excessive amount of rosin – a permitted substance – but the right-hander reappeared with some rosin remaining on his throwing hand. The skipper felt that the failure to fully comply should have led to Germán’s exclusion from the game and took issue with the fact that he was allowed to continue throwing.
“Their pitcher was asked to do something about a rule that has been the center of much discussion, and he failed to do what he was asked to do: get rid of something he carried in hand,” Baldelli said. . “That’s all.”
Germán had retired the Twins’ first nine batters before first base umpire and crew chief James Hoye conducted a thorough examination of Germán’s hands and glove as he left the field after the third inning. Hoye told a pool reporter that he felt stickiness from the rosin and asked Germán to wash it off to avoid any possibility of a problem.
When Germán emerged to pitch the fourth inning after hitting a rosin bag in the Yanks dugout, Hoye intercepted him for another check and reported finding a bit of sticky on Germán’s little finger, causing a long conference involving Germán, manager Aaron Boone and several Yankees players. The referees met separately before Hoye allowed Germán to remain in the match.
“So he washed his hands, but before he goes out he hits the rosin because he doesn’t go to the rosin on the mound that often, which got their attention,” Boone said.
That was the essence of the disagreement, according to Hoye and Baldelli: The Twins skipper felt the need for a second, lengthy conversation should have led to an ejection for noncompliance. The referees did not send Germán off because they did not consider rosin to be a foreign substance that would impact the flight of the ball.
“The most important reason it was not expelled is that it was not determined to be a foreign substance and it did not reach that level of viscosity on his hand,” second base umpire DJ Reyburn said.
“I was able to explain to them and tell them that I have a bag of rosin that is in the dugout area, where I sit all the time,” Germán said through an interpreter. “He was able to talk about it, understand and reason about it.”
At that point, Baldelli was coming out of his dugout looking to be sent off for the first time this season and for the 10th time in his career.
Germán remained stingy after the chaos, retiring the next seven Twins as he opened his outing by giving up 16 in a row before singles by Christian Vázquez and Michael A. Taylor cut short his bid for a perfect game in the top of the sixth sleeve.
Byron Buxton and Trevor Larnach both suggested after the match that they felt Germán’s pitch movement was anomalous to what they expected from the scouting reports, even before testing began – and their suspicions were increased when conversations took place.
On average, Germán’s four-seam fastball featured an extra inch of vertical break and three extra inches of horizontal break compared to his season average, with slightly extra spin, but movement and spin on his curveball were not significantly higher.
“It’s one thing for some guys to see their numbers go up one day,” Larnach said. “And then it’s another thing that their numbers are going up, and their manager and the referees are all talking.”
They did not make open accusations, but also disputed the idea that the multiple discussions did not lead to an expulsion.
“I’m not saying he’s doing anything wrong, but it’s not a good idea,” Buxton said.
“I think everyone respects the fact that Rocco showed great frustration,” Larnach said.