Wallner’s homer in first MLB game only highlights for Twins in loss

CLEVELAND – It almost sounds cruel, doesn’t it, to ask a rookie to face a Cy Young Award winner like the Guardians. Shane Bieber On your first day in the Major? but rocco baldelli There was no doubt.

,[We’ll] Throw Matt Wallner Right there,” the manager predicted before Saturday’s doubleheader, “and let him go deeper.”

good call. Wallner, a Forest Lake native and first-round pick in 2019, swung at the first pitch he saw and outplayed as a big-league player on Saturday, then clocked a strike three in a couple of innings.

But in the eighth inning the outfielder was ready. Bieber started him with a belt-high cutter, and Wallner pulled out his powerful swing. The ball landed 414 feet in front of the bullpen in center field, the lone bright spot in a 5-1 defeat to open a doubleheader.

“I was missing the first two pitches a bit [at-bats]And just made a little adjustment,” Wallner said. “To be able to hit that last pitch, when you’re able to do that, it’s beneficial.”

They circled the bases—”It would be a shame to miss one,” he joked—then celebrated with his new comrades. “They were just happy for me. It’s fun to have a little excitement,” said the 24-year-old. “I definitely appreciate it. Obviously, it’s fun to do that in your first game.”

Notably, after starting the season in Class AA Wichita, he didn’t really expect to reach the majors this year. Then he started tearing down Class AA pitching, followed by Class AAA pitching, and he made himself a clear candidate for when to fill. Max Kepler got hurt. Wallner has 63 extra-base hits in 2022, 27 of them home runs, and his fresh, patient approach is rewarded with 97 walks and a .412 on-base percentage.

Wallner was lying on his bed in St. Paul – “just being lazy,” he said – when St. Toby Gardenhare Called on Friday to ask him to move to Cleveland. By the next morning, he had activated as the team-record 59th Twins player, corresponding to the year, and put into the lineup as the starting right fielder. His parents, fiancé and friends from his days in Southern Miss stood by to watch.

“with honesty, [I was] Not as nervous as I thought. I thought it was going to be a lot more crazy,” Wallner said. “Once the game was going on – not the same, but very similar.”

Especially when he punctuated it with a home run, setting up an intense conversation with the fan who caught it in center field. The fan got the bat from Wallner and Carlos Correa For which he bargained, and Wallner received the souvenir.

Did he know that baseball was gone, right off the bat? Wallner pondered the question in the hallway outside the Twins Clubhouse. “Yeah, I was sure,” he said.

As he said, Bieber walked away. “I knew it right off the bat,” he died, and continued.

Kepler on IL again

After Kepler was placed on the injured list, the twins eventually gave up on their hope that they might return quickly from a sprained right wrist.

“It’s a tough break. If Cape could have stayed active, believe me, we would have kept him active, even if he would have missed a few more days,” Baldelli said. “Finally it felt like it wasn’t in the cards. He’s still battling the wrist and [a sore] hip.”

The move is retroactive to Wednesday, so Kepler will be eligible to return next weekend, when the Twins are home against the Angels.

“It’s been off for a few days because it wasn’t trending the way we want it to,” Baldelli said. But the Twins intend to bring Kepler back into the lineup for the final 10 days of the season.


  • Twins named Saints righthander to make place on 40-man roster for Wallner Drew Strowman for assignment. Strowman, acquired with Joe Ryan For Nelson Cruz At the 2021 trade deadline, St Paul has an ERA of 6.44 in 39 appearances.
  • The Twins promoted to 2022 first round draft pick brooks lee Class AA Wichita and Companion Shortstop Wonder Xavier To the saints Lee was playing in the Class A Cedar Rapids, but Kernel’s season ended on Friday.

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