It was a beautiful day for baseball, and in one of the more optimally-conditioned afternoons of the Twins’ season so far, we got to enjoy one of the mildest combined offensive performances. Thankfully, Minnesota came out on top with a 1-0 Saturday victory.
Sonny Gray’s first start back went just about as well as he could have hoped. Removed after four innings and 66 pitches as he stretches back out, Gray struck out seven A’s hitters and allowed just two hits during his time on the mound.
But we had a pitcher’s duel on our hands — while Gray and his immediate relief partner Danny Coloumbe pumped zeroes into the scorebook, so too did Oakland starter James Kaprielian, who kept Minnesota to three hits, and also struck out seven.
Neither team could get much going until Jorge Polanco faced Kaprielian for the third time, and promptly took one to Thome Town.
The 451-foot bomb to dead center was Polanco’s third jack of the year, and took the game to the seventh with the Twins up one. He becomes the eighth player to hit one into the suite up top.
By this point, sudden relief success Griffin Jax had taken over — Jax struck out two and stranded the tying runner at second just before the stretch. Jhoan Duran would be tasked with the eighth — he got a strikeout at 83, a strikeout at 103, and a strikeout at 102.
The Twins worked to tack on insurance in their final at-bats, but Royce Lewis was back-picked at second base after corking a hard double to lead off the inning. Still, Minnesota brought two men to the basepaths and forced the A’s to bring Lou Trivino into the game with two outs — he needed just one pitch to induce an inning-ending foul pop.
Managerial cosplayer Jayce Tingler opted to send Duran back out for the ninth inning; he delivered a flyout, struck out pinch-hitter Jed Lowrie on 102, then issued a walk to Seth Brown. This set up another pinch-hitting opportunity, with Sean Murphy getting another late-game opportunity this series to put Oakland ahead.
Murphy got clipped on a 2-1 pitch, advancing the tying runner into scoring position, and putting the go-ahead run on base. By all accounts, it was the tightest jam of the day for the Minnesota pitching staff; prompting a visit from Uncle Wes.
Thanks in part to an expert frame job by Ryan Jeffers on the second strike, Duran was able to get into an 0-2 count on his last batter, who he finally got swinging on 100 up out of the zone.
It wasn’t quite Emilio Pagan-levels of ninth-inning mayhem, but the team certainly hasn’t cruised through to the end of either of these games so far. Nonetheless, the Twins take the first two games of the weekend series and go for the sweep tomorrow, having won eight in a row at home!
Twins Pitching (9 IP, 3 H, 3 BB, 15 K)
2B Jorge Polanco (3-for-4, R, RBI, 2B HR)
ROBOT ROLL CALL:
Much like today’s team victory, today’s comment section was a real group effort. You’re all taking home the game ball today.