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All-Time Twins Tournament, Killebrew Round, Day 5: A grand victory

Bulletin: Tawny Region issues formal complaint about team placement in bracket.

Boston Red Sox v Minnesota Twins
The face of a man who has just produced a salami sandwich.
Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images

You probably guessed the result with the picture. Sorry for the spoiler.

Sandwiches Regional (played)

(7) 2019 Twins 7
(2) 1933 Senators 4
2019 wins series 3-2

With the shift on, Max Kepler went off.

Kepler’s opposite-field grand slam capped a six-run third inning, and ‘19 withstood several ‘33 threats to finish the series and the Harmon Killebrew round with a 7-4 victory.

That third inning started the scoring and threatened a ‘19 barrage. After General Crowder made it through two innings only allowing one hit, then retired C.J. Cron to open the third, ‘19’s bats awoke. Four straight singles brought two runs across and put runners on first and second. After Mitch Garver struck out, Miguel Sano walked to load the bases. As ‘33’s defense shifted toward right field, Kepler sent Crowder’s first pitch the other way, but it had no intention of landing in outfield grass. The ball sailed directly down the left field line, sneaking just inside the foul pole for a grand slam, giving ‘19 a 6-0 lead.

But the seemingly-imminent barrage did not come. Instead, ‘33 halved the deficit before ‘19 could return to the plate, with Goose Goslin smashing a three-run home run directly over Byron Buxton’s head in center, the horsehide sphere landing in the grass 434 feet from its point of departure.

While ‘19 wasted offensive opportunities, losing both Garver and Eddie Rosario on the bases to failed hit-and-runs, ‘33 saw new relievers repeatedly thwart their own chances. After ‘33 brought a run in with two outs in the fifth, bringing the tying run to the plate in Goslin, Martin Perez relieved starter Jake Odorizzi and induced a fielder’s choice to end the inning. One frame later, Pérez ran into trouble of his own, loading the bases with two outs, but Tyler Duffey entered and struck out Ossie Bluege.

After ‘19 tallied their final run in the top of the eighth, ‘33 mounted their final assault against Sergio Romo. After Joe Kuhel and Heinie Manush singled, Romo struck out Dave Harris, but Fred Schulte loaded the bases once again with a single of his own. Trevor May came out of the bullpen and struck out Bluege, then snuck a third strike past Joe Cronin on a full count to disappoint the home crowd once again.

The final inning was comparatively uneventful. After ‘19 went down in order, Taylor Rogers closed out ‘33 on nine pitches, Bob Boken’s 0-2 grounder to Jonathan Schoop finishing the game and ending the Killebrew Round on a thriller.

Oh, and Nelson Cruz hit a triple in the seventh.

Stars of the Game
‘19 — RF Max Kepler: 2-3, HR, 2 R, 4 RBI, BB
‘19 — RPs Tyler Duffey / Trevor May: combined 1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, BB, 3 K, 0/6 inherited runners scored
‘33 — RP Bobby Burke: 2.0 IP, H, 0 R, BB, 2 K
‘33 — CF Fred Schulte: 2-3, 2B, R, BB

Series MVP
Max Kepler (‘19 RF)
8-19, 3 HR, 6 R, 6 RBI

At last, the Kirby Puckett Round is set:

Our matchups are:

  • Minneapolis Sectional: (16) 2017 Twins vs. (13) 2003 Twins. ‘17 has been the shock of the bracket, upsetting top-seeded 1991 in five games before sweeping 1925 in the quarterfinals. They may have the player of the tournament so far in Eduardo Escobar, who has batted .351 (13-37) with five home runs over the first two rounds. With the sweep, they’ll have an extra day of rest on ‘03, who did avoid the tight schedule by knocking out 2006 in four after pulling off a surprising sweep of 1965 in the first round. ‘03 has relied on strong pitching, allowing just 17 runs over seven games played, including two... ahem... “exciting” relief outings that resulted in wins for Eddie Guardado. Their hitting, however, has been irregular, with different players producing just enough in each round to move the team along.
  • St. Paul Sectional: (3) 1969 Twins vs. (7) 2019 Twins. For the second straight round, ‘19 will have to shift their rotation due to their series lasting the full five games, but they’ve used power and a strong bullpen to progress to the semifinals. Through two rounds, both Sergio Romo (5.0 innings pitched) and Martín Pérez (3.0 IP) still sport an unblemished 0.00 ERA, while you could throw a dart at the lineup card and more than likely hit a player batting around .300; Luis Arraez, Nelson Cruz, Max Kepler, Eddie Rosario, and Jorge Polanco each have 12 hits over the bracket, with Kepler’s .324/.404/.676 slash line topping the club. Meanwhile, ‘69 has produced plenty of power on their own. While first avoiding an upset by defeating 2004 in five games, then handily sweeping 1924, much of the club’s success has come off the bat of the expected players. While Rod Carew and Tony Oliva are hitting well, Harmon Killebrew has been on fire, slashing .500/.542/.818 in the first round and .400/.538/.400 in the second. Their pitching staff too has been hot, topping ‘19’s mark with four relievers (Al Worthington, Dick Woodson, Joe Grzenda, and closer Ron Perranoski) who have perfect ERAs.

Only two rounds remain, and series lengths extend to seven games. The spoils are up for the taking; to which victor will they go?

Walter Johnson Round: Day 1 / Day 2 / Day 3 / Day 4 / Day 5
Harmon Killebrew Round: Day 1 / Day 2 / Day 3 / Day 4 / Day 5
Kirby Puckett Round: Day 1 / Day 2 / Day 3 / Day 4 / Day 5 / Day 6 / Day 7
Joe Mauer Round: Preview / Game 1 / Game 2 / Game 3 / Game 4 / Game 5 / Game 6 / Game 7