Earlier this week, Minnesota Twins starting pitcher, Kenta Maeda, had one of the best starting pitching performances that Rocco Baldelli has ever witnessed. He took a no-hitter into the 9th inning, before giving up a base hit to to the first batter of the inning, Eric Sogard, on his 115th pitch. After he exited, Closing Pitcher, Taylor Rogers, took the bump in his place.
Normally lights out, Rogers has been a bit off during this shortened MLB season. That pattern continued Tuesday, when he surrendered three runs and the lead Maeda and Co. had built up.
The Twins still came back and won that game so all was well… but not for Rogers. According to Kenta Maeda (through translation), Rogers left an apology letter on Maeda’s locker and also offered to buy him some alcohol or something, in return for blowing his lead and win.
The grateful Maeda took to his popular YouTube page to describe the whole heartwarming scenario. Here is the video. Below it, you’ll find the translation from Japanese to English, from one of Maeda’s YouTube subscribers, Andy Yang:
Hello again everyone, Kenta Maeda here. So, I pitched yesterday and threw a no-hitter.
\[Guy off camera:\] No you didn’t, you were close though.
Oh, I think my memory is failing me. I thought I threw a no-hitter, that’s weird. Anyway, I failed at throwing a no-hitter yesterday. I made it to the 9th inning. It’s not like I was planning on throwing one, but it would’ve been a nice personal achievement.
We were winning 3-0 in the 9th and I surrendered a hit to the leadoff batter, so I got switched out for our closer. And I saw all over the comments throughout the news and media that our closer blew the save and that I got a no-decision. So, everyone seems to be feeling bad for me. But that’s just baseball, sometimes your closer gets hit, it doesn’t matter what team you play for.
So I would like it if people stopped commenting negative things about that. There’s nothing you can do about it and he told me he’s really sorry about it. But our closer, Rogers, felt so bad that he gave me a letter/present…and he left it at my locker.
It says ‘Kenta’ on the front, both in Japan and the US. I have experience with closing pitchers coming to apologize after a blown game but it seems rarer in the US. It isn’t like we as starting pitchers even want them to feel sorry about it. Everyone knows that if the closer blows a save, there’s nothing you can do about it and that it’s fine.
When I played for the Hiroshima Carp, \[Katsuhiro\] Nakagawa and \[Shota\] Nakazaki often closed. Nakagawa was way more experienced than me so even if he got hit, I never said anything. With a guy like Nakagawa, he was less experienced but I always saw how hard he practiced and took baseball seriously. So I never had any negative feelings towards them for blowing a save, and I don’t for Rogers either. He’s a great teammate who trains hard and takes the game seriously.
I told him not to worry about it. It’s not like my pitching line gets erased or anything and we won the game anyway. But Rogers just felt so bad that he initially offered to buy me some alcohol. Some of my translators and trainers told him that I don’t drink, though. So some of my staff just casually said maybe if we go out to drink you can pay the bill or something.
But he insisted that it has to be something that benefits Kenta directly. So one of my trainers told him about this really high-quality Japanese rice from a store I like, and he purchased that for me as a gift. So along with this letter, he presented me with this ticket to trade-in for the rice. I can’t read the letter myself so I had it translated. Basically, it says “I am so sorry for ruining your phenomenal pitching performance yesterday.” This really made me happy. I don’t think there are that many pitchers out there who care this much to go out of there way to do this.
Thank you again for all your positive comments. I urge you again to be nice to Rogers too because he’s a great teammate. That’s basically what I wanted to say in this video. The Minnesota Twins aren’t too well known as a franchise in Japan, but the team is really filled with great teammates so I want that to be known.
Now regarding my near no-hitter, apparently the strikeouts I’ve racked up in the last 8 games is some sort of Twins record…so I’m happy to be able to find myself in Twins history. It’s been like 20 years…or 60 years? Something like that…since it’s been last done.
\[Guy off camera:\] That’s a really big range.
Well, I can’t remember which one. They told me but I forgot. But anyway, the team gave me the game-ball and the uniform I wore yesterday. I washed it but there’s this MLB official sticker on it. An MLB record keeper was there after the game to have me take my jersey off and put the sticker on it on the spot.
So anyway, I had no intention of making this video before the start yesterday but I just wanted to let everyone know that the Twins are a great team and that I’m happy about the performance yesterday.
How Much Do You Love Kenta Maeda?
This may be one of the greatest videos I’ve ever watched/read. It’s definitely the best translation I’ve ever read. I’ve heard about Maeda’s YouTube channel and I have heard about his teammates raving over how funny and personable he and his translators are… but this puts it at a new level.
He only made the video, though, because Rogers was so gracious and apologetic for blowing that save. I’ve always enjoyed Rogers’ interviews and he seems like a down-to-earth guy… but you never know what happens behind the curtain (especially during the coronavirus ages) for sure.
For Rogers to go out of his way to write the apology note and then make sure that Kenta gets something he really wants, after he turned down everything Taylor first offered, shows his genuine nature. It was such a cool gesture that Maeda made a video about it…
If I become friends with two people who play baseball at the Major League level, I hope it’s Kenta Maeda and Taylor Rogers. Here is a snapshot of Kenta’s performance from the other night.
Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan