The Minnesota Twins have won their fourth consecutive series and Jorge Polanco delivered three walk-off hits in the homestand.
No, you’re not dreaming. And no, it is not 2019 or 2020. Yes, the Twins are still in last place and will not make the playoffs.
But as it turns out, the relatively simple formula of consistent offense with the capability of having a serious outburst, combined with solid starting pitching and a competitive bullpen is enough to win series. (Would have been nice to spread out some of this close/late/extra-inning good fortune a bit so that the Twins could have stayed in the division race earlier in the season, but oh well.)
However, this one didn't start as planned. Starting pitcher Lewis Thorpe made his first MLB start since late May. He had been on the injured list for two months with a shoulder issue, and after giving up a solo home run to Jose Ramirez in the first and walking three of the first four batters in the second, he was removed with, unfortunately, a shoulder injury.
Edgar Garcia was pressed into duty and did well enough considering the circumstances, giving up an inherited run and one of his own in the third. In fact, Twins pitching proceeded to give up a run each inning for each of the first frames. They didn’t throw a scoreless inning until the sixth and didn’t manage a 1-2-3 inning until the seventh.
The Twins scored a run in the first and added another in the bottom. of the fourth on a mammoth blast from Miguel Sano. Trailing 5-2 in the sixth, the Twins had a runner on with two outs before stringing together six consecutive hits, chasing Cleveland starter Zach Plesac and taking a 7-5 lead. In the midst of the barrage was a long double from Sano, who punished a mistake pitch on an 0-2 count.
Relative newcomer Ralph Garza Jr. gave up just one hit in two otherwise perfect innings. With the Twins still hanging onto their two-run lead, Caleb Thielbar pitched a flawless eighth.
But Alex Colomé served up an adventure in the ninth, giving up a leadoff double to Myles Straw and a one-out double to Ramirez, cutting the lead in half. After a great play from Luis Arraez on a slow bouncer up the third-base line, Ramirez was on third with two outs in a one-run game. But a walk on a wild pitch tied the game, and the Twins went down in order in the bottom of the ninth.
Tyler Duffey pitched out of trouble in the top of the 10th, walking the leadoff batter before Cleveland bunted the runners over to second and third. But Duffey struck out Ernie Clement on four pitches and got a line-drive out from Straw to kick it to the bottom of the inning.
But Nick Wittgren struck out Arraez, Sano was intentionally walked, Nick Gordon struck out, and Straw made a nice catch on a Jeffers liner to end the inning. Danny Coulombe had a similar top of the 11th for the Twins, issuing an intentional walk to Franmil Reyes but otherwise sending Cleveland down in order.
After a failed sacrifice from Andrelton Simmons (woof), Owen Miller took a tough error at first on a hard grounder from Max Kepler. With runners on the corners and one out, Jake Cave coaxed a walk, leaving matters up to, well, you guessed it: Jorge Polanco.
Polanco laced a liner into right field, and that was that.
- Kudos to the Twins bullpen for piecing this thing together. There isn’t an off-day until Monday, however, so the series in New York will surely be an adventure.
- Max Kepler was the only Twin in the starting lineup to not have a hit in this game.
- Sano continues to look more and more comfortable at the plate.
- Polanco does, too, of course. Turns out, this club still has tons of offensive talent. Just wait until Byron Buxton gets back...
- Jorge Polanco: 2-for-6, 2 RBI, walk-off single
- Miguel Sano: 2-for-4, HR, 2B, 3 RBI, BB
- Bullpen pitchers not named Colomé or Minaya: 7 2⁄3 IP, ER, 2 H, 5 BB, 5 K
- Juan Minaya: 2 IP, 2 ER, 2 H, 2 BB
- Alex Colomé: 1 IP, 2 ER, 2 H, BB
- Max Kepler: 0-for-6, 2 K