Before a backdrop of an electric Target Field, the Minnesota Twins locked up their 88th win of the year thanks to a combination of stupendous pitching and clutch hitting.
First and foremost, let’s begin with Jake Odorizzi. In the immediate wake of Michael Pineda’s blindsiding suspension this afternoon, much conversation was had about the future — and reliability — of the starting rotation. Tonight, Odorizzi reminded the team why he was named to the All-Star Game, and turned in a performance worthy of commendation.
Through 5.1 innings, Odorizzi allowed four hits and struck out ten, showing once again that he has a good time facing Cleveland. The two runs both came in a shakier sixth inning — a pair of one-out walks led to the visitors’ first run, when Yasiel Puig doubled home Oscar Mercado to knot things up at one. (Mitch Garver had homered in the first to kick things off.)
Tyler Duffey entered to play fireman, and had a nearly-perfect appearance — were it not for a two-out wild pitch that gave Cleveland the edge. The errant delivery was sandwiched by a pair of strikeouts, which is par for the course for Duffman lately.
But in the seventh, the Twins struck back. After Willians Astudillo led off with a single, Jonathan Schoop hit a towering fly that kicked off the center-field portion of the right-field wall, tying the game and putting Schoop at third with a triple. Following a walk of Max Kepler, Mitch Garver elected to deliver again, sending a decisive three-run shot into right, making it a 5-2 Minnesota lead, and finally giving the Twins some breathing room.
Cleveland still wasn’t done. With Sergio Romo on the mound in the eighth, Jason Kipnis doubled home Yasiel Puig to bring the tying run to the plate; Romo would strike out Franmil Reyes to end the threat.
After Rocco Baldelli subbed in Byron Buxton and reunited the Opening Day outfield, Taylor Rogers got three quick outs in the ninth, including a Jordan Luplow strikeout to end it.
It was a thrilling, back-and-forth, pennant-race affair this evening, complete with your standard dose of baseball weirdness. Puig opted to walk directly back to the dugout after grounding back to the mound. Nelson Cruz was ejected from the bench after arguing balls and strikes. After recording the final out in the eighth, Romo limped off the field.)
Tomorrow the Twins go for a statement series win, and attempt to stretch their division lead to 7.5 games. But the Minnesota Vikings open their season tomorrow, so...maybe expect a more distracted afternoon crowd.
Thanks for coming!
SP Jake Odorizzi (5.1 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 10 K)
The bullpen, excuse maybe Romo and Duffey’s wild pitch
C Mitch Garver (2-for-3, 2 R, 4 RBI, 2 HR, BB, most homers as a catcher in Twins history)
NO DUDS! TWINS WIN!
ROBOT ROLL CALL: