It was the post-game question no one wanted to answer, at least not fully.
How exactly were the Twins so successful identifying and staying away from Kevin Gausman’s splitter in Sunday’s 8-6 win over the Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre?
Yes, the Jays’ first-inning issues with a harsh sky in the lidless dome were issue No. 1 of the day, but going forward that is imminently correctable, as easy as taking out sunglasses.
But the splitter is a central part of Gausman’s dominance and if one team has figured something out, how long before another team does, as well.
It kind of explained why the questions about it were responded to in such general and non-specific fashion.
First, Charlie Montoyo said that the team would look at it, check the video and see if perhaps Guasman was somhow tipping off his split.
The Twins didn’t lay off every splitter he threw, but far more than made the right-hander comfortable.
Gausman himself began his post-game saying he wasn’t really sure whether the Twins were on to him or not.
“I don’t know,” he said. “It’s something I will take a look at.”
And by ‘take a look’ he means going over the video of the game — and perhaps even previous starts — looking for any tells when he throws the splitter.
By all accounts, Gausman has no history of tipping his pitches, but that doesn’t mean a team doing a deep dive on him couldn’t have discovered a pattern, routine or slight change in his action before he throws that particular pitch.
Gausman knows this as well as anyone, having been in the game as long as he has. And he has five days to assure himself that nothing is amiss.
The Twins, for their part, or at least manager Rocco Badelli, sounded just thrilled to have gotten out of Toronto with a win against Gausman and a 2-1 series victory.
Baldelli certainly wasn’t going to divulge whether they discovered something that would have given them an advantage against the Jays tough right-hander.
“We’re facing one of the best pitchers in baseball, a guy that’s been dominant this year, and has been for a while,” Baldelli told reporters post-game. “All we did was come in and have just awesome at-bats from the beginning of the game. We had a good plan against him, went out there and used the whole field. It was great.”
While not explaining what that plan was, Baldelli admitted — or at least sounded like — he wasn’t sure the same plan would work again.
“He has great stuff, but I think he’s refined what he does over the years,” Baldelli began. “Pitching with that split, that’s a weapon in and of itself, being able to do it confidently in any count and use it all the time. It makes life very difficult.
“You know, hitters get used to facing fastballs and sliders and breaking balls, and having to compete against that, that split plays against everyone. It plays against the right-handers, it plays against the left-handers. Finding ways to avoid trying to attack every pitch that’s coming out in a certain area, it’s a tough thing to do.
“There’s a reason why he’s so great, and he’s really good. But today, you know, the way that we attacked them worked today. You know, we’ll see about the next time when the next time comes, but I couldn’t have been more pleased with the way we handled the at-bats.”
Gausman didn’t seem overly concerned post-game that the Twins, or any team, would ever be able to take that particular pitch away from him.
“Yes, they did a really good job just laying off some really good splits,” Gausman said. “I mean every team going against me is going into the game with some type of plan against the split. So really, it’s kind of trying to figure out what their plan is.
“Are they trying to be really aggressive with it and hope they get one that’s up in the zone or do they just flat-out say don’t swing at it?
“Obviously, it’s a lot easier said than done. You have to tip your cap sometimes when they just don’t swing.”
It doesn’t sound like Gausman will lose sleep over this, but he’ll put the time in making sure it’s infinitely tougher for the next team that tries an approach like this.