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Twins 12, Rangers 7: Right place, right time

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The Twins got the first lead and never looked back, despite a messy, offense-heavy Saturday night.

MLB: Minnesota Twins at Texas Rangers Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

You would be excused for checking in during the first inning, noticing the Twins’ immediate 6-0 lead, and writing this one up as an easy win.

You’d be half-right; the Minnesota Twins topped the Rangers by a final of 12-7 on Saturday night, but they certainly took the road less traveled — one filled with questionable defense, pitching struggles, and the occasional clearing of benches.

Let’s rewind back to the first.

Facing sophomore righty Ariel Jurado, the Twins unloaded in the first inning. A string of at-bats plated six runs; Eddie Rosario knocked one in on a fielder’s choice/error. Luis Arraez singled home another. Marwin Gonzalez doubled home two, and C.J. Cron corked a two-run shot.

Having apparently never heard of a “shutdown inning,” Minnesota starter Jose Berrios gave up a first-inning homer to old friend Danny Santana. If you’ll believe it, it was Danny’s 20th home run of the year — this after coming into the season with 13 in his entire career. The two-run shot made it 6-2 Twins.

A walk and back-to-back singles began the second, loading the bases for Rosario, who added another ribbie with a sac fly. Mitch Garver grounded in an eighth run, which would spell doom for starter Jurado; although he would finish the inning, he was not seen again.

Texas, unfortunately, was by no means done.

The home second saw Isiah Kiner-Falefa single in a run, Shin-Soo-Choo ground in another score, and Danny frickin’ Santana hit another two-run homer. This made the score 8-6 and brought the Rangers right back into the game.

Thankfully, things would mostly settle down from here on out. Neither team would score until the fifth, when both squads traded runs. Max Kepler had an RBI single in the top half, and Rougned Odor walked with the bases loaded in Texas’ turn.

That would be all for Jose Berrios, who had already walked the previous batter to fill the bases. It was not an impressive outing for Berrios, who’s had a couple of poor outings this month. Although he was technically only on the hook for three earned runs, he certainly isn’t absolved of any liability for the runs that crossed the plate for the home club.

The game was pretty normal until the eighth, when the ripple effect of an early slugfest combined with the Texas heat and produced that eclectic dish, Weird Baseball.

In case you missed it, we like Tony Diaz again. In the top of the inning, Jorge Polanco led off with a double and scored on a Mitch Garver single, prompted by Diaz’s notoriously windmill-esque arms.

It was a strange play; Polanco had to hold near the bag to make sure Garver’s grounder even got through the infield — in fact, he was in the process of retreating when it snuck through.

Jorge was not yet to third base when the left fielder retrieved the ball, but constructs such as “probability” and “expectation” and “being reasonable” are but human follies to Tony Diaz, who sent Polanco anyway and was rewarded with an insurance run.

With the score now at 10-7, and with two outs in the inning, Marwin Gonzalez grounded to second. The following sequence of events was both strange and ambiguous, so bear with me. What appears to have happened is this: Marwin grounded one to second and shouted at himself, discontent with missing his pitch. Reliever Shawn Kelley, either unaware of the target of Marwin’s shouts, or just upset with his display of frustration, began jawing at Gonzalez as he ran up the line.

Before long, the benches and bullpens cleared, but nothing came of it. It was rather uneventful as far as bench-clearing events go, although the fact that it was a bench-clearing “event” rather than “brawl” should have told you that anyway.

In the ninth, Miguel Sano hit a two-run shot to extend the lead to its final score of 12-7.

It was a bit of a mess, and a long one at that, but what matters at the end of the day is the Twins put double-digits on the board again and extended their divisional lead to 2.5 games over Cleveland.

What’s more, tomorrow the team goes for a four-game road sweep!

STUDS:

The bullpen (4.2 IP, 0 ER, 3 H, 0 BB, 3 K)

3B Miguel Sano (3-for-6, 3 R, 2 RBI, HR)

SS Jorge Polanco (3-for-5, R, BB)

RF Marwin Gonzalez (3-for-5, 2 R, 2 RBI, 2B)

CF Jake Cave (3-for-5, R)

DUDS:

NO DUDS! TWINS WIN! TWINS WIN!

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