MIN: Kepler RF, RF, Arraez 2B, Cruz DH, Sano 1B, Rosario LF, Donaldson 3B, Garver C, Adrianza SS, Buxton CF, Odorizzi P
TOR: Bichette SS, Hernandez RF, Guerrero 3B, Grichuk CF, Shaw 1B, Gurriel LF, Fisher DH, Biggio 2B, McGuire C, Shoemaker P
Remember last week, when I said we wouldn’t need a fifth starter for awhile, as long as we had one bullpen day in the mix? Well, today was the bullpen day. It should keep everyone on regular rest for the better part of the next two week with four starters, and then we can address that problem (most likely with Lewis Thorpe or Devin Smeltzer.) Today though, Sean Poppen got the start.
Poppen had a good outing. He pitched four innings. As has been the case for the last several games, neither team scored in the first inning. Neither team scored in the second today, either. We can’t say the same for the third.
The Twins half of the third would have been another three-up-three-down inning for Toronto’s Matt Shoemaker, but Nelson Cruz had other ideas. After whiffing on Shoemaker’s first pitch, Boomstick went boom. 422 foot fly ball to left for a no-doubter. Poppen handled the three Blue Jays to step up in the third, and the Twins extended his lead in the fourth.
It only took two batters, or four pitches, to put the Twins up by another run. Eddie Rosario hit first, watched a ball, and then singled to the right of the second baseman. Josh Donaldson followed to the plate, and after a swing-and-a-miss, lined a double to the right field wall, that allowed Rosario to score. Three straight flyballs landed in outfielder’s mitts, and Poppen took the mound again.
It was here, in the bottom of the fourth, that Poppen gave up the only blemish on his night. Three line-drive singles in a row by Vladimir Guerrero Jr, Randal Grichuk, and Travis Shaw added up to one run for the Jays. Poppen ended his night by striking out the next three men to atone.
The Twins blew it open in the fifth, giving the next pitcher a bit more to work with, leadwise. Max Kepler walked on five pitches, and Luis Arraez took the next at-bat to nine pitches before singling to put men on the corners. Nelson Cruz picked up his second RBI of the night with a sac fly that moved Kepler home; Miguel Sano flew out less productively. Eddie Rosario put a cap on it though, with the leader of the Bomba Squad mashing a bomba to give the Twins a 5-1 lead and chasing Shoemaker from the game in the process.
With Zack Littell for the Twins and Jordan Romano for the Jays both relieving their respective starters before the end of the fifth inning, no pitcher had and automatic claim to the win. Littell would state his case for it though, with a scoreless fifth and sixth inning, which Romano matched in the sixth and seventh.
Littell would give up the home team’s second run in the seventh. A one-out single by Bo Bichette spelled the end of Littell’s night, as Cody Stashak replaced him. Stashak allowed a single to Teoscar Hernandez, got Guerrero to hit into a fielder’s choice at second, and then another single by Grichuk to plate the run.
Stashak shut down the Bluebirds from there, but the Twins weren’t done. Enter the top of the eighth inning, and Eddie Rosario leading off. Rosie hit a hot double into the right field corner, and after Donaldson flew out, Mitch Garver was intentionally walked to set up the double play. Ehire Adrianza ended Romano’s night by fighting off several foul balls to take a full-count walk and load the bases. New pitcher Justin Miller sat Byron Buxton back on the pine with a three-pitch strikeout that brought Max Kepler to the plate. Just based on my title, you probably know what happens next. In a sequence that went foul ball-ball-foul ball-ball-foul ball, you would probably expect ball three next. You would be wrong. Instead, the German outfielder pulled a line drive at 103.8 MPH, a 363 foot GRAND SLAM!
Luis Arraez followed with a show-off double (triple) but Cruz struck out. That slam was the nail in Toronto’s coffin though, and nothing interesting happened for the remaining inning-and-a-half.
- On a cool clear night, the roof of the Rogers Centre was open. Canadians spell weird.
Max Kepler: 2-4, Grand Salami
Eddie Rosario: 3-5, HR, Double
Nelson Cruz: 2-4. HR
No Duds, Twins win!
Tomorrow: Twins at Jays, the rubber match. First pitch at 6:07 pm (Look for the recap around 10 pm)