There’s something to be said for winning games that you should. The Twins did just that today. Some sloppy baseball by Texas gave the Twins opportunities to score some runs, and the home team took advantage.
Kenta Maeda was far from his sharpest today, but got better as the game went along to turn in his best performance of the young season. In 5.1 innings, Maeda gave up 2 hits and 2 walks, but held the Rangers to 0 runs and blew away 8 Texas “hitters”. He was able to boogie out of a couple jams, stranding 2 runners in both the 2nd and 3rd innings.
His Texas counterpart, Dane Dunning, was fairly sharp today as well. In 5.2, he only surrendered 3 hits and 2 walks, but the Twins were able to turn those baserunners into 3 runs (2 earned) off the rookie starter. There’s a case to be made that Dunning should only be responsible for the last of the three, as Alex Kirilloff chased him from the game with a clutch double to score Byron Buxton, who had walked.
The previously-mentioned “sloppy baseball” had a lot to do with the first two runs. On the first, the fantastic rookie Kirilloff followed a hustle double with some heads-up baserunning to scamper home after Texas right-fielder airmailed a throw to third on Jorge Polanco’s sac fly. On the second, we saw a bizarre play at home on a Josh Donaldson double, as Luis Arraez and Texas catcher Jose Trevino collided at home. Arraez was initially called out, but this was overturned on a challenge by Rocco Baldelli. Trevino actually never tagged Arraez, although it may have been obstruction as well.
Following Maeda’s exit in the 6th, Texas once again left two runners on base, as Caleb Thielbar allowed the first two batters he faced to reach before getting the next two out. In the bottom of the sixth, following the aforementioned Kirilloff double to chase Dunning, Polanco tripled (generous scoring on a dropped ball in center) to score Kirilloff, and Max Kepler punched a single to center to put the Twins up 5-0.
In the 7th, it was Cody Stashak’s turn to put two runners on only to allow no runs, and he did just that. After the Twins went down without a whimper in the bottom of the inning, the Rangers finally got on the board. Newly-called up lefty Brandon Waddell entered for the Twins and was only able to get one out, giving up a single, 2-run home run, and walk after the initial strikeout. Rocco’s preferred fireman Tyler Duffey was tasked with cleaning up the mess, and would have done so if not for Jake Cave. Cave had entered the game in the 7th as Luis Arraez was feeling the effects of his collision at home. A fairly routine line drive turned into a double due to Cave’s circumnavigation of left field, giving the Rangers their third run (this was also ruled a hit, not an error). After this, Duffey got two groundouts to limit the damage.
In the bottom of the 8th, timely hitting provided the Twins with an insurance run that they (spoilers!) ended up needing. With Alex Kirilloff on first and two outs, Jorge Polanco roped a double (also partially miss-played, but more difficult this time) to left and Kirilloff raced home to give the Twins their sixth run. But the drama didn’t end there.
Taylor Rogers entered to close the game for the Twins. After getting the first hitter to groundout, Texas second baseman Nick Solak appeared to pop out to shallow right field, but Jorge Polanco, on a difficult play, took his eye off the ball at the last second to allow Solak to reach. After a fielder’s choice, Texas slugger Joey Gallo launched a dinger to right to pull his team within one run. Thankfully, Rogers was able to strike out Adolis Garcia to put the game away.
Alex Kirilloff: 2-4, 2 2B, 3 R, 1 RBI
Jorge Polanco: 2-3, 2B, 3B, BB, R, 2 RBI - Even though the official scorer was extra friendly today
Josh Donaldson: 1-4, 2B, RBI, multiple really stellar defensive plays
Kenta Maeda: 5.1 IP, 8 K, 2 H, 2 BB, 0 ER
The ‘Pen: 3.2 IP, 7 H, 3 BB, 3 K, 2 HR, 5 ER