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All-Time Twins Tournament, Mauer Round, Game 3: A strip of dirt and a fence

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A diet of lefties, a string of dingers, a slop of errors, and a ninth-inning comeback falls incomplete.

MLB: APR 30 Twins at Royals
Where the ball lands may determine a game or a series.
Photo by Keith Gillett/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Game 3 Lineups

(16) 1969 TWINS (3) 2017 TWINS
29 - Rod Carew - 2B 2 - Brian Dozier - 2B
6 - Tony Oliva - RF 7 - Joe Mauer - DH
3 - Harmon Killebrew - 1B 22 - Miguel Sanó - 3B
20 - Rich Reese - DH 5 - Eduardo Escobar - SS
12 - César Tovar - CF 16 - Ehire Adrianza - LF
15 - George Mitterwald - C 19 - Kennys Vargas - 1B
2 - Graig Nettles - 3B 36 - Robbie Grossman - RF
10 - Rick Renick - LF 38 - Chris Gimenez - C
5 - Leo Cárdenas - SS 25 - Byron Buxton - CF
36 - Jim Kaat - P 17 - José Berríos - P

Result

Despite two key run-allowing errors, ‘17 kept hitting, coming closer and closer to tying the score up to their final out. But their comeback missed completion by only feet.

Trailing by three in the ninth inning, ‘17 narrowed the gap with a pair of two-out solo homers, only for Eddie Rosario’s drive to land in the glove of Rick Renick as ‘69 closed out a 7-6 victory. The win puts ‘69 one game away from the title of tournament champion.

‘69 sent a string of left-handed pitching to the mound, Jim Kaat pitching into the seventh and all three southpaw relievers stepping to the rubber. The strategy worked, as only three ‘17 batters — Brian Dozier, Eduardo Escobar, and Byron Buxton — tallied hits, each twice successfully putting lumber to ball.

But ‘17 did not need a hit to open the scoring in the first, as Dozier walked, stole second, and scored on a pair of groundouts.

Unfortunately, after Jose Berrios pitched a scoreless top of the first, ‘69 began teeing off on him with efficient regularity, while ‘17’s defense, error-free in the first two games, contributed to the lead switching sides. With one out, George Mitterwald singled, and Graig Nettles sent a fly ball to deep center; Buxton ran down the ball, but dropped it, placing runners on second and third. The next two batters brought home a runner apiece, Rick Renick singling in Mitterwald and Leo Cárdenas’ fly to left sending Nettles across the plate.

Rich Reese’s third-inning solo homer extended the lead, but Dozier matched him with a dinger of his own. But Kaat allowed just one hit from that point on, keeping ‘17 off the scoreboard over the next three innings.

In the meantime, ‘69 kept scoring off Berríos, in both the fourth and fifth innings getting all their hits and runs with two outs. While the fourth inning saw Cárdenas double and Rod Carew single him home, heavier damage came in the next frame; after César Tovar doubled, Mitterwald smacked an 0-2 fly ball to right-center that snuck over the top of the wall, his two-run homer extending ‘69’s lead to 6-2.

While ‘17 went to the bullpen after the fifth, Kaat stayed strong through six, but ran into trouble early in the seventh. After Ehire Adrianza grounded out, Kennys Vargas sent another roller to Cárdenas, whose throw pulled Harmon Killebrew off the bag. Kaat followed by plunking Robbie Grossman, summoning Joe Grzenda from the bullpen. But Grzenda’s reliability faltered, as he walked Chris Gimenez to load the bases for Buxton, who lined an 0-2 pitch into right-center, his double plating two runs and putting a pair in scoring position.

With the tying runs on base, ‘69 elected to intentionally walk Dozier, giving ‘17’s two and three hitters the opportunity to swing the game. But Grzenda struck out Joe Mauer and got Miguel Sano to fly out to Tovar, stranding three men and preserving ‘69’s lead.

After a symmetrical eighth inning, all three ‘69 batters striking out and all three men for ‘17 flying out to right field, ‘69 came up in the top of the ninth looking for an insurance run; with the aid of more unreliable defense, they got it. Matt Belisle took over on the mound for Tyler Duffey, who had thrown two perfect innings, and immediately gave up a single to Renick. On an 0-2 pitch to Cárdenas, Renick took off for second; while Cárdenas struck out, Gimenez’ throw to second flew wide, allowing Renick to reach third. Carew brought Renick home on a lineout to center, an insurance run that proved vital.

Tom Hall had pitched the eighth for ‘69 without allowing a baserunner, and his ninth started just as smoothly, Jorge Polanco fouling out and Gimenez lining to center. But Buxton, representing the potential final out, swung at Hall’s first pitch and lined it into the flower boxes in left. Hall remained in to face Dozier, who took a pitch before crushing the next one 451 feet to left-center, his second home run of the game cutting the deficit to one. Closer Ron Perranoski entered from the bullpen, and Rosario emerged from the dugout to hit for Mauer. Their standoff lasted one pitch, which Rosario lofted to deep left-center. With extra innings in the balance, Renick ran down the ball just shy of the warning track.

A strip of dirt and a fence: all that stood between a chance for ‘17’s first win of the series and a 3-0 deficit. But the latter is the situation they face.

Stars of the Game
‘69 — C George Mitterwald: 2-4, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI
‘69 — LF Rick Renick: 2-4, R, RBI, GW run, GW putout
‘69 — 2B Rod Carew: 2-4, 2 RBI, GW RBI
‘17 — 2B Brian Dozier: 2-3, 2 HR, 3 R, 2 RBI, 2 BB
‘17 — CF Byron Buxton: 2-4, HR, 2B, R, 3 RBI
‘17 — RP Tyler Duffey: 2.0 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 BB, 3 K

Introduction
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
Review