Needing a win for morale as much as the standings, the Twins battled hard against the Padres on national television, and came away with a Saturday night victory on the back of some timely homers and some passable pitching.
The score was broken in the bottom of the third when, amidst a Mike Clevinger interview, Manny Machado went capital-“y”-yard to left field. It was the sixth San Diego homer already in the series, and set a poor tone early after the obliteration last night.
But Minnesota would respond quickly. Dissatisfied with Carlos Correa’s fourth inning at-bat — he drove a long foul fly before striking out on a 3-2 fastball — Byron Buxton cranked his second homer of the series deep into left field; a fastball high and tight was turned around in a huge way.
The blast went 434 feet and came off the bat at a robust 111 mph. It’s the 25th homer of Buxton’s dazzling season.
After Sonny Gray stranded a single San Diegan aboard first in the home fourth, the Twins got to work in the fifth and put two men on to begin the inning. Gary Sanchez whiffed on a full count, but Gilberto Celestino quacked a jam shot to right — after earning a bloop single into the same spot innings earlier — that scored Jose Miranda from second base, giving the Twins a 2-1 lead.
Luis Arraez worked another full count, but was Joe Musgrove’s sixth strikeout victim to record the second out of the inning. A batter later, Correa was Musgrove’s seventh. It was a missed opportunity to extend the lead, but nevertheless, it was advantage: Minnesota.
Sonny Gray was pulled after five, and Eric Hosmer greeted Emilio “First Outta the Pen” Pagan by reaching on a throwing error by His Dark Materials himself. While Luke Voit and Nomar Mazara would both strike out swinging, Austin Nola would walk to put the go-ahead run on base. It wouldn’t be a Pagan outing without some drama, but a fly ball would leave both men stranded.
Well, if you liked the sixth-inning drama, you’ll love the seventh-inning drama. Trevor Megill induced a couple ground balls to begin the inning — the first was cleaned up on a great play at the hot corner from Jose Miranda, and the second saw C.J. Abrams get into scoring position after Carlos Correa made an errant throw into the dugout on an impossible play.
What happened next was a bit of a novelty; Jurickson Profar drilled a ball back up the middle, where it found crew chief Jerry Layne, and rendered the play dead — and, significantly, meant that Abrams had to remain at second base, even though he was well on his way to third (at least.)
An understandably frustrated Padres team had to wait a few moments as Megill was swapped out for Griffin Jax. The Cap’n got his men, striking out Manny Machado and inducing an Eric Hosmer pop-up to keep the one-run lead intact.
Finally, the Twins would strike again. Luis Arraez led off the visiting eighth with a single, and after three punchouts, Correa launched a solo homer to center field to make it a 4-1 game. Byron “who needs knees” Buxton singled and stole second, and a Jorge Polanco walk would get a threat started for pinch-hitter Kyle Garlick.
With that steal, Byron Buxton takes over the all-time MLB lead in career stolen base percentage at 88.1%.— Aaron Gleeman (@AaronGleeman) July 31, 2022
Garlick nearly grounded into a 6-4-3 double play to retire the side, but an errant relay from Abrams allowed Buxton to score Minnesota’s fifth run. The extended frame was not wasted; Miranda drilled an RBI single the opposite way to plate Garlick and make it 6-1, with Miranda crucially advancing to second on the throw.
The Twins weren’t done yet. A first-pitch liner deep into the left field corner would take one hop into the seats; a ground-rule double from Nick Gordon made it seven runs for the Twinkie Towners.
Jhoan Duran would work a perfect home eighth, complete with two strikeouts. Tyler Duffey, uh, did not. A walk, hit batsman, and three-run Profar homer suddenly made it a save situation with only two outs left in regulation. Still, he wrapped up his next two outs with relative ease, locking down the victory.
The series is even; the Twins will finish out this series with a late-afternoon (Central time) start tomorrow. They’ll enter that contest with their divisional lead back to two games. Let’s keep it going!
DH/CF Byron Buxton (2-for-3, 2 R, RBI, BB, HR)
LF Nick Gordon (2-for-4, 2B RBI)
CF/RF Gilberto Celestino (2-for-4, R)
No duds allowed - we’re primetime, baby
ROBOT ROLL CALL:
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