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Samurai Japan's Kenta Maeda, three outs short of MLB no-hitter

Samurai Japan's Kenta Maeda, three outs short of MLB no-hitter
19/08/2020
His Minnesota Twins eventually won in an extra innings against the Milwaukee Brewers. Lefty Caleb Thielbar, the USA pitcher who gave up the key hit in the Premier12 2019 third place game against Mexico, pitched a perfect 10th.

Kenta Maeda, who started two games (against Mexico and Puerto Rico) for Samurai Japan at the inaugural WBSC Premier12 in 2015, came just three outs short of a no-hitter.

The Japanese right-hander is now a starter for the Major League Baseball (MLB) Minnesota Twins. He had muted the bats of the Milwaukee Brewers for eight innings. Maeda threw a strike to Eric Sogard, but the Milwaukee third baseman got to a second pitch changeup and turned it into a base hit. It was all for Maeda.

Rocco Baldelli, the Twins manager, handed the ball to closer Taylor Rogers with a 3-0 lead. The Brewers were all over the newcomer and tied the game, sending it to an extra-innings.

Caleb Thielbar took the mound for the Twins in the top of the 10th and pitched a perfect inning.

Thielbar is a 33-year old reliever who had appeared in 109 MLB games for the Twins from 2013 to 2015. He spent the 2016 and 2017 seasons with the Saint Paul Saints of the independent American Association and fought his way back to organized baseball in 2018.

The left-handed reliever pitched 50 games at Triple-A for the Detroit Tigers during the 2019 season. He then accepted the invitation from USA Baseball and represented his country in the WBSC Premier12 2019.

Thielbar appeared in four games of the second edition of the Premier12, including the bronze medal game against Mexico. He entered that game with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 10th. After fouling off four pitches, first baseman Efren Navarro singled on Thielbar's eighth pitch to win the game and send Mexico to the Tokyo Olympics.

Thielbar believed that was going to be it for him as a professional baseball player and accepted an offer to coach at the Augustana University in South Dakata.

It would go in a different way. Thielbar accepted a Spring Training invitation from the Minnesota Twins. As the season resumed in late July, he was placed on the 60-player pool. On 3 August he was called up to the 28-man MLB roster.

Baldelli said about the veteran: "He's got this delivery that creates some deception. He's got the fastball that has a tremendous ride on it, and then he's got this really up and down, a change-of-pace breaking ball that he can manipulate too. What he does gives you a really nice, different look."

Thielbar didn't disappoint his manager on Tuesday, 18 August. The Minnesota Twins went on to defeat the Milwaukee Brewers 4-3 in 12 innings.







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