Twins’ Rocco Baldelli requests a hair check on Cleveland right-hander James Karinchak

Rocco Baldelli didn’t call for a check on Cleveland pitcher James Karinchak late Friday because he wanted to. He asked, the Twins manager said, because he felt he had to.

Because he was almost certain the Guardians’ reliever cheated during Cleveland’s 7-6 win at Target Field.

In the seventh inning of a game that started an hour and 10 minutes late because of rain at Target Field, Baldelli interrupted a Luis Arraez at-bat to ask the umpire to test Karinchak for foreign substances.

“I think I have an obligation to our players and to our team to do what I think is right,” the coach said. “And I think it would be hard for me, and as a team as a whole, to watch their pitcher do the things he does on the mound in a very direct and simple way trying to, obviously, change some things. “

A hard-hitting right-hander whose fastball averages 95 mph, per mlb.com’s baseball savant, Karinchak went through a routine between each of his pitches Friday, touching the back of his head first and then mixing the sweat with the rosin bag on the mound.

“I knew people obviously thought I was cheating, but I had no worries because it was just sweat and rosin,” Karinchak told reporters. “Well come check it out.”

Barrett did, even running his fingers through the pitcher’s hair. Pitchers are allowed to use sweat and rosin to improve their grip, but cannot use a foreign substance, which baseball began to combat during the shortened 2020 COVID season.

“The nearest. we’ll check the belt and both hands,” Barrett told a pool reporter. “But I hadn’t asked the manager to check their hair this year. I did not find anything.”

The check may have spooked Karinchak, who got Arraez to fly out to left before Correa hit a two-run home run to pull the Twins within 7-6. Karinchak’s next pitch sailed over the head of infielder Jose Miranda, sending the rookie first baseman to the ground. Baldelli said he didn’t think Karinchak was texting, but Miranda wasn’t so sure.

“I don’t know,” said the rookie. “It was tough when Correa hits a homer and the next pitch is in my head. It was strange. Maybe he didn’t want to drop it there. maybe he wanted it. I do not know. Only he knows.”

Miranda doubled into the left field corner but was stranded at second when Karinchak got Nick Gordon to pop out to left. Emmanuel Clase finished the game 1-2-3 to earn his AL-high 32nd save.

Karinchak, 26, entered the night with a 1-0 record and 1.01 earned run average in 25 appearances this season. Last June, White Sox color broadcaster Steve Stone noted during a game that Karinchak he seemed to be wiping his thumb in a black spot inside his glove.

“I don’t think I had much choice but to go out there and get him looked at,” Baldelli said. “I’m not going to go out there and ask (for checks) on the pitchers. that’s not part of what we do. I don’t think it’s something we’ll see (more of) with Gemini. In this case, I don’t think there was a choice.”

Asked if he was satisfied with the response he got from Barrett, Baldelli took a long pause before answering.

“Ted will do a very good and honest job in his duties and I know it. I have to believe clearly that he will,” he said. “We asked him to do a check, so he went out and did it. He didn’t think what he found was important, or even present. He didn’t say anything, but he didn’t find any noticeable substance or stickiness in any of his hair or anything he checked.”

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