In tonight’s win, the Twins hit early and struggled late, in typical Twins fashion. However, they did win, so that’s new and exciting. The second inning supplied the early runs, as Nelson Cruz hit a solo shot, Alex Kirilloff drove in a run with a single, and Luis Arraez did the same with a sac fly before Trevor Larnach struck out with the bases loaded to end the inning.
However, the powerful Reds offense was not going to be held scoreless by the likes of J.A. Happ. In the fourth inning, back-to-back home runs by Eugenio Suarez (2-run) and Aristides Aquino tied things up for the Reds. These would be the only runs that Happ would give up, despite only going 4.2 innings and having 5 walks.
The fourth inning was really a disaster all around, as in the bottom of the inning, Byron Buxton got hit by a pitch. Buxton took this one to the hand, and stayed in the game for a half inning before exiting. Certainly, every Twins fan is praying for the words “day-to-day” after Buxton literally just returned from injury.
Luke Farrell, Caleb Thielbar, and Alex Colome pitched strongly, only giving up two total hits with no walks in order to silence the Reds until Taylor Rogers entered with one out in the 9th.
The real excitement started in the bottom of the 8th. After a leadoff single and sneaky scamper to second base by Alex Kirilloff, Ryan Jeffers walked. Andrelton Simmons bunted over the two base-runners, but a rare Luis Arraez strikeout left the Twins with two runners in scoring position and two outs. We then had a surprise Josh Donaldson sighting, as the injury-hampered third baseman pinch hit for Nick Gordon and was intentionally walked to load the bases for Larnach. In typical cursed fashion, Larnach stung a ground ball back up the middle, only for it to hit pitcher Amir Garrett in the ankle, making for an easy ground ball out to end the inning with no damage done.
The top of the 9th was also eventful, as Taylor Rogers entered with one out and immediately gave up two hits. However, Reds second baseman Jonathan India made a crucial mistake by over-sliding second base and getting tagged out, giving Cincy a runner on 3rd with two outs instead of 2nd and 3rd with one out. Rogers was able to hand Reds stud Jesse Winker his fifth empty at bat of the evening (no small feat) on a strikeout, and the Twins escaped to the bottom of the 9th with the tie intact.
After Nelson Cruz grounded out to start the bottom of the inning, singles by Max Kepler and Jorge Polanco gave the Twins runners on first and third with one out. The Reds brought Nick Castellanos in from the outfield as an extra infielder, and also intentionally walked Alex Kirilloff to load the bases. The strategy paid off, as Ryan Jeffers was called out looking on a questionable strike three by Reds closer Lucas Sims. Castellanos returned to the outfield for Andrelton Simmons, who was also the victim of a bad strike call, this time at the start of the at bat. Simmons would ground out, and the Twins would leave the bases loaded for the third time in the game.
Manfred-ball ensued in the 10th inning, as many have lamented. Of course, the Reds immediately took the lead on a single single off of Jorge Alcala, because a single single is suddenly worth as much as a single solo home run when you get to single “overtime”, because every single person loves for gimmicks to decide the single most intense games. The Reds would also add on an insurance run after a second single and a single sac fly combined to push Castellanos around the bases.
Not willing to go down quietly (for a change), the Twins fought back against pitcher Sean Doolittle in the bottom of the 10th. Luis Arraez led off the inning with a double, scoring Manfred-runner Andrelton Simmons to pull the team within one and putting the tying run in scoring position. Miguel Sano, a pinch-runner in the game for Byron Buxton (by way of Nick Gordon and Josh Donaldson), proceeded to smoke a rare Sano single to give the Twins first and third with no outs. The silly Reds decided to not call the “load the bases for the Twins” play and gave Trevor LOBnach a chance to tie the game, and he did not disappoint - Luis Arraez scored on the sac fly. Unfortunately for myself, reliever Ryan Hendrix struck out Nellie Cruz and got Max Kepler to pop out, sending the game deeper into the night.
In order to remedy this whole “game too long” thing, Rocco was kind enough to send Matt Shoemaker to the mound in the 11th. Or so I thought. Shoemaker was actually able to get the first two outs of the inning without the Manfred-runner advancing (is that legal?), and TOOTBLAN (twice today!) expert Jonathan India struck out to end the inning.
To the bottom of the 11th we go... “and Polanco fails to advance Kepler”. With one out and Manfred-runner Kepler still on second base, the Reds once again elected to intentionally walk Alex Kirilloff, who’s intentionally walking his way into the “STUDS” section of the recap. Ryan Jeffers, of Clan “7 pitches per at-bat”, struck out, leaving it up to Andrelton Simmons. And so we head to the 12th.
In the top of the 12th, Relief Ace Shoemaker got one Manfred-runner-advancing groundout before intentionally walking Castellanos before getting a big strikeout. However, with a flair for the dramatic, Shoemaker decided to unintentionally walk Joey Votto to load the bases with two outs for Eugenio Suarez, who hit a home run in this game sometime during the Jurassic Period. Never fear- Shoemaker struck out Suarez to keep the tie intact.
Heath Hembree came in to pitch the bottom of the 12th for the Reds, with Andrelton Simmons as the Manfred-runner and Luis Arraez at the plate. It was at this time that I decided I would not be staying up for the 13th inning, game recap duty or not. Arraez was able to advance the runner to third, and the Reds once again decided to add an extra infielder. During this mound visit, it was announced that this was the longest game in MLB this season, at five hours and ten minutes and counting. Thankfully, Miguel Sano ended this long national nightmare with a two-run blast. Walk-off win for the Twins.
P.S. Forgive me for the length of this and/or anything I said in the first two paragraphs. Those were mostly written 3 hours before the end of the game.
Luke Farrell, Caleb Thielbar, Alex Colome: 3.2 IP, 2 H, 3 K, 0 BB, 0 R
Miguel Sano: 2-2, Walk-Off HR, 2 RBI, 1 Excellent Stretch
Alex Kirilloff: 2-4, 2 BB, 1 RBI
Matt Shoemaker: 2.0 IP, 0 H, 2 BB, 3 K, 0 R
Trevor Larnach: 0-5, 3 K’s, 8 LOB, 1 RBI
Manfred-assisted Jorge Alcala: 1.0 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 K, 0 BB
Me: Back-to-back Monday games have ended after 12:30 CT
ROBOT ROLL CALL: