Tonight, Minnesota’s seventh inning featured a lot of runs and a lot of aggressive baserunning - with the former happening in spite of the latter.
The early goings of this evening’s contest took much the shape of last night’s; the Twins had a run in the first on an Eddie Rosario homer, while the Cubs tied it in the second on a David Bote double. From there, starters Michael Pineda and Alex Mills swapped zeroes, with Big Mike allowing four hits through five frames, but only fanning a single Chicago hitter.
After Rosie added another with a sixth-inning RBI single — thanks to a tailor-made pinch-running substitution before his at-bat — the Twins opened the floodgates in the visiting seventh.
It was fitting that I mentioned various streets of Chicago in the preview, because Miguel Sano introduced a baseball to Waveland Avenue to lead off the inning. After that, Max Kepler ground-ruled a double into left, chasing Mills from his start.
From there, Jorge Polanco singled off Kris Bryant’s glove, and Marwin Gonzalez took one off the body to load the bases. Josh Donaldson pinch-hit with the intention of cracking things open — he grounded to short, where Javier Baez’s dirt-skipped throw home ensured everybody stayed safe.
With manager David Ross bringing in his third pitcher of the inning, the Twins more or less decided to speed things up a little. Mitch Garver singled home two, and LaMonte Wade, Jr. flew out to deep center. Both runners attempted to tag, and the trail runner, Garver, was canned at second after a perfect throw from Ian Happ, producing an 8-4 double play with nobody out.
Then, Byron Buxton singled home a run and was struck down at second himself, thanks to another Happ assist on an attempted stretch to a double.
Despite running themselves out of the inning, Minnesota had still produced a crooked number, and the 7-1 lead held until the top of the ninth, when Donaldson’s solo homer increased the lead.
The bullpen was stellar again tonight, with Matt Wisler recording all six outs on strikeouts, and neither Tylers Duffey nor Clippard allowing a baserunner.
It was a subdued celebration — indistinguishable from a regular victory — but that’s to be expected with the expanded playoff field and unnecessary contact discouraged. Still, the win today means the Twins’ magic number is officially down to zero, and Minnesota will make back-to-back postseason appearances for the first time in 10 years, when they did it in two different ballparks.
Bullpen (4 IP, 1 H, 8 K, 0 BB)
DH Eddie Rosario (2-for-4, 2 RBI)
SS Jorge Polanco (2-for-4, R, nice defense)
PH/3B Josh Donaldson (1-for-2, 2 R, RBI, HR)
NO DUDS! TWINS WIN!
ROBOT ROLL CALL:
COTG: This was so stupid it made me laugh out loud. After Bote ties the game in the second, TwinBob laments: “Dam you David Bowie”.