The Twins had runners on second and third with nobody out for Byron Buxton — twice.
Unfortunately, the man can’t do it all every single day; the team as a whole got just one run out of each of those opportunities.
But — baseball is a team sport, and the morning after Byron Buxton put the team on his back, it was a team effort with clutch hits from the infield, big homers from the outfield, and a dominant bullpen performance that would lead to another thrilling ninth-inning victory.
The Twins had their first rally in the home third. With the O’s already up 2-0, Gio Urshela led off with a single, and was moved over 180 feet by a Luis Arraez double down the right field line. Buxton would pop out, and Correa would go down swinging; Max Kepler struck out on a foul tip to end the inning. It’s not quite a NOBLETIGER, but it’s at least a wise lion.
Personally offended by giving up back-to-back hits, Baltimore starter Jordan Lyles would not allow another baserunner until Nick Gordon hit a solo shot to center with one out in the seventh. Lyles would go 6.1 innings, with four hits, one walk, and seven strikeouts, the Gordon homer the only blemish on his ledger.
Sonny Gray was not quite as sharp. The Orioles had a run each in the second, third, and fourth innings; Gray walked three and was done after five innings with fewer than 90 pitches. He allowed an RBI double to Tyler Nevin, a solo homer to Anthony Santander, and a Jorge Mateo sacrifice fly.
But, don’t look now! It’s the vaunted Minnesota bullpen! Jharel Cotton threw three shutout innings and allowed just one hit, before turning it over to Emilio Pagan, who struck out two in a 10-pitch ninth. The relief effort helped keep the game close — especially after the eighth, when Minnesota brought the game to within one on a Carlos Correa RBI single, moments after Buxton had been retired again with runners at second and third and nobody out.
Returning to lock down the save was Jorge Lopez, looking for redemption after blowing his third save and allowing his first homer last night.
Instead, Jorge Polanco booked him a ticket on the express train to Polancoville.
It’s been a remarkable offensive performance for this team, against one of the best relief pitchers of 2022. Around this time last year, the Twins put together a thrilling comeback victory against a red-hot Aroldis Chapman. (This matchup against another dominant AL East closer has at least meant something to the standings.)
Shortly after Polanco’s homer, Alex Kirilloff smoked a one-out double off the wall in left field, and Gary Sanchez blooped a single onto the grass in right field, putting the winning run 90 feet away, and setting up defensive replacement Jose Miranda for a walk-off winner in his first at-bat.
And walk it off, he did; an absolute laser of a single into left field brought Kirilloff home, sealing back-to-back walk-off wins.
In the immortal words of Chad Kroeger, look at this graph:
After a demoralizing series in Cleveland, the Twins will go for the sweep tomorrow — maybe they’ll make us wait until the final at-bat, maybe not. You’ll have to tune in to be sure!
1B Luis Arraez (2-for-4, 2 2B)
2B Jorge Polanco (1-for-4, R, RBI, HR)
CF Nick Gordon (2-for-4, R, RBI, HR)
3B Jose Miranda (1-for-1, RBI)
RP Jharel Cotton (3 IP, H, 0 R, BB, K)
RP Emilio Pagan (IP, 2 K)
ROBOT ROLL CALL:
Shoutouts to Brad