Tonight was a night of mild deja vu. Much like they did earlier this month at Target Field, starters Jake Odorizzi and Wade LeBlanc traded a bunch of zeroes. And much like he did last year around this time, Mike Zunino hit a walk-off homer against the Twins.
Neither team got a runner to third base until the 6th inning. Brian Dozier led off the inning with a single, then advanced to second on a passed ball and scored on a Max Kepler double. Miguel Sano sac fly’d him over to third, and Eddie Rosario doubled him in on a hot shot off the glove of the first baseman.
But the 2-0 lead was short-lived. Jean Segura led off the bottom of the 6th with a solo homer, shaving the lead in half. A misplay by the shortstop Gregorio Petit put Guillermo Heredia in scoring position, and a walk to Mitch Haniger got a rally going quite quickly for Seattle.
Things began to look up for a moment — a ball in the dirt inspired Heredia to try for third, but Garver was quick enough to gun him down at third. For a glimmering moment, it looked as though the Mariners might Mariners their way out of the rally, but Nelson Cruz launched a pitch into the right-center field seats, scraping a home run just over the wall. The wall in question was valiantly jumped into by one Byron Buxton, who narrowly missed robbing the round-tripper, crashed onto the warning track, gashed his head, and came out of the game.
This would kick in the bullpen for Minnesota, as Zach Duke cleaned up the rest of the inning with the Twins finding themselves down 3-2.
After both teams were hushed in order in the 7th, the Twins made two quick outs in the top of the 8th before Miguel Sano went to a 3-0 count and things got weird. Nick Vincent indicated some groin pain and was pulled from the ballgame, leaving James Pazos to finish the job. Pazos and Sano dueled on multiple mid-90s fouls, before the Seattle reliever issued ball four outside and the go-ahead run was allowed to reach base.
On the first pitch of his at-bat, Eddie Rosario singled into right field, putting Sano at second base. Sano came out of the game in favor of pinch-hitter Ehire Adrianza, which proved to be a useful move -- Eduardo Escobar singled him home, and though he was thrown out trying to advance to second base after the relay home, the Twins were still able to tie things up at three apiece.
Are you still reading? You know what happens. It’s right there in the headline. The Twins lost. You can skip to the comments now.
Segura, he of the earlier rally ignition, singled to begin the home 8th. Heredia attempted to bunt him over, but popped out weakly to Adrianza (now playing first.) Mitch Haniger grounded one to second, Brian Dozier flipped to Petit, who stepped on second, practically vaulted off of a sliding Segura’s helmet, and fired to first for the out (which stood after a Seattle challenge. He looked safe to me.)
In the 9th, Logan Morrison hit a one-out single into the right field corner, but his speed (or lack thereof), in combination with a strong throw from right, resulted in him getting thrown out trying to stretch the base hit into a double. Trevor Hildenberger threw a scoreless home half, and we would head to extra innings just after midnight Central time.
Juan Nicasio threw a perfect 10th, and Hildenberger responded with the same feat. Nicasio struck out the side in the 11th, and Matt Magill entered for the Twins.
Seriously, why are you still reading? The lede pretty much summed it up. Pitcher’s duel, not-a-pitcher’s duel, Zunino walk-off. There’s your story.
Gordon Beckham led off the bottom of the 11th with a 50-foot swinging bunt single, advancing into scoring position on a successful bunt by Guillermo Heredia. (Second time’s the charm.) That brought up Mitch Haniger, who crushed a fly ball to deep center -- run down on the track by Kepler. Mark it down as a very loud sacrifice fly.
Winning run at third, two down, for Nelson Cruz, who was not intentionally walked despite having homered earlier, but WAS unintentionally hit in the elbow pad, putting runners on the corners and leaving it up to Kyle Seager to send the M’s fans home happy. Instead, Seager popped it up straight into the air, and the game progressed to the 12th.
Are you STILL reading? Wow. Good on you. This recap is bulky. This game had a lot going on for such a low-scoring affair. If you’re still reading, comment the keyword “loyalfan” and I’ll PayPal you a dollar.
A Petit single was the only lifeblood in the 12th, but it was quickly sapped when he was thrown out trying to steal second base. As Dick Bremer noted, Petit only had one major-league steal in his career.
And then, Mike Zunino came up in the bottom of the 12th and corked a big fly to deep left and mercifully ended the ballgame. It would have been nice not to see that exciting eighth-inning rally go to waste, but that’s not how we do things here in Twins Territory. Instead, we say “catch you next time,” and wait for Jose Berrios to roll tomorrow, hoping to escape Seattle with at least one victory.
RPs Zach Duke, Ryan Pressley, Addison Reed, and Trevor Hildenberger (4.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K)
RF Max Kepler (2-for-5, R, RBI)
C Mitch Garver (0-for-5, K)
SS Gregorio Petit (1-for-5, 3 K, caught stealing, error)
ROBOT ROLL CALL: