Less than 24 hours after a Jorge Polanco three-run homer in the ninth inning turned a Minnesota Twins deficit into a victory against the Cincinnati Reds, the Twins battered the same bullpen during a four-run eighth inning to pull within a single run. In the ninth, Miguel Sano was at the plate representing the go-ahead run but banged into a game-ending double play on the first offering from Michael Lorenzen.
The Twins opened the game in a similar fashion to how they closed Tuesday’s affair: a Jorge Polanco home run.
Rookie Charlie Barnes gave up a hit in the first inning but the runner was erased on a double play. In the second, he only gave up a bloop hit with two outs. But in the third, things unraveled.
With a runner on second and two outs, Jesse Winker worked the count full before drawing a walk. Then, Kyle Farmer singled, Joey Votto doubled, and Tyler Stephenson singled and just like that, a 1-0 lead turned into a 4-1 deficit.
The Reds added another run in the fourth in typical National League fashion: a single, sac bunt from pitcher Luis Castillo, and a Jonathan India base hit.
The Twins stayed in the game due to a solid two-inning outing from Juan Minaya, who scattered a pair of walks and a hit but struck out five batters after Barnes had only fanned two hitters in four innings. The offense was silent, however, and Sean Burrows gave up a solo shot to Stephenson in the bottom of the seventh to stretch the Redlegs’ lead to 6-1.
But Minnesota started the eighth with walks to Polanco and Luis Arraez and a double from Sano. After a pitching change, Trevor Larnach came through with a double of his own, plating two runs. After Nick Gordon grounded out, Ryan Jeffers drove in Larnach, making it a 6-4 game.
Josh Donaldson pinch-hit and struck out looking on a pitch that was at least an inch off the outside corner, leaving things up to Max Kepler.
Kepler delivered, rocketing a double into the right-field corner, but third-base coach Tony Diaz made the decision to hold Jeffers at third base. The Bally Sports North broadcast didn’t dwell on the decision, but the replay suggests that Jeffers would have had a real shot at scoring.
Hindsight is 20/20, etc., etc., but Diaz should have sent Jeffers to try and tie the game. Alas, Brent Rooker struck out, and that was the end of the threat.
After Caleb Thielbar held Cincy down in the bottom of the eighth, Arraez singled with one out in the ninth to get Sano to the plate, but the big man knocked into the game-ending double play and that was that.
- The ninth-inning strikeout notwithstanding, Polanco is absolutely on one. He went 2-for-4 with a home run and a walk once again while starting at shortstop. Andrelton who?
- Don’t look now, but Arraez looks like 2019 Arraez once again. A 3-for-3 performance with two walks has his batting average up to .310 and his OPS up to .774.
- Rooker continues to look mostly uncomfortable at the plate this season in the bigs.
- Barnes had the same issues as he did in his solid debut in Detroit a few weeks ago: he simply does not miss bats. The Reds had seven hits and two walks in four innings while Barnes struck out only two batters.
- The Twins continue to show fight, which is encouraging to see. This will be an interesting thing to track over the final weeks of the season as Rocco Baldelli tries to steer the battered ship into port.
- Jorge Polanco: 2-for-4, HR, BB
- Luis Arraez: 3-for-3, 2 BB, R
- Ryan Jeffers: 2-for-3, BB, RBI
- Juan Minaya: 2 IP, 2 BB, H, 5 K
- Brent Rooker: 0-for-5, 2 K
- Miguel Sano: 1-for-5, K, game-ending GIDP
- Charlie Barnes: 4 IP, 5 ER, 7 H, 2 BB, 2 K