SEATTLE — Joe Ryan covered his mouth with his glove, using it to muffle his yell. The show of frustration came right after Ryan had surrendered his second two-run home run in as many innings, the latter of which spelled the end of his night.
While Tuesday’s return to the mound may not have played out quite as Ryan would have liked — the Twins fell 5-0 on Tuesday night to the Seattle Mariners at T-Mobile Park — it marked an important step for the Twins, who are starting to see members of their rotation, which had been ravaged by injuries, return healthy. Ryan’s return from the COVID-19 injured list comes a day before Sonny Gray, who has been out with a pectoral strain, is scheduled to make a return of his own.
“I felt pretty good at the start,” Ryan said. “Definitely a little frustrating in there. I mean miss your spots, stuff happens.”
For the rookie, it was his first start since May 21 — he made a rehab start with the Triple-A Saints before returning — when he tested positive for COVID-19, a bout that he said caused him to spike to a 102.7-degree fever at one point.
Ryan threw 74 pitches on Tuesday in 4 2/3 innings, his velocity slightly down from his season average. As the start wore on, Ryan’s velo dipped. His focus currently is on rebuilding his aerobic capacity, and he called it frustrating to not have the same endurance level that he is used to. Getting back to that level, he said, is a work in progress and after his start, he got on the exercise bike for an hour in an attempt to help do that.
“Obviously he threw a couple of pitches that he would prefer he didn’t,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “ … As the outing went on, he might have (gotten) a little tired, stuff-wise and command-wise and such.”
The righty started with three perfect innings before surrendering a two-run blast to Eugenio Suárez in the fourth inning and then a home run to France an inning later that spelled the end of his night. The Mariners (28-34) added one more run in the seventh off reliever Jovani Moran.
Ryan was outdueled by another one of the game’s bright young pitchers: Logan Gilbert. Gilbert and three Mariners relievers combined to shut out the Twins (36-28). It was the ninth time this season the offense has been silenced, tops in the majors. It’s a seemingly inexplicable stat considering the Twins are in the top third of the league of most major offensive categories.
“It was one of those days that I feel like our at-bats were not the best but when we did hit the ball hard, it was right at people,” shortstop Carlos Correa said. “It was hard to get rallies going. Gilbert was throwing the ball very well. His fastball has some good carry and it was up to 98, 99 (miles per hour). … He threw a lot of fastballs today, too, and it was hard to catch up to them.”
Gilbert threw six innings and recorded six strikeouts, the last of which capped his outing and came after he had fallen behind 3-0 to Max Kepler with a pair of runners on.
The Twins finished the night with just four hits — two from Correa and two from Gilberto Celestino, struggling to get much going all night. All four were singles.
“It was a tough night at the office,” Correa said.