It’s almost as if the Twins’ bats decided to take on the real-life embodiment of the calm before the storm.
If, of course, Tuesday evening’s trade deadline is a proverbial “storm” of movement, that is. While that remains to be seen, the first seven innings of Monday night’s tilt against the Detroit Tigers was absolutely “calm.”
The Twins added veteran journeyman Aaron Sanchez to the roster prior to the game, and he turned in a fantastic spot start. He opened the game by striking out Tigers leadoff man Riley Greene on four pitches. The Tigers scratched across a run in the second on a walk, a single, and a groundout, but Sanchez did a good job limiting the damage.
In the meantime, the Twins threatened with two outs in the bottom of the third with a double from Jorge Polanco and a walk from Carlos Correa, but Luis Arraez lined out to third baseman Jeimer Candelario to end the threat. The Tigers answered with a run after a walk, hit by pitch, and a single, but Sanchez again avoided further damage.
The most excitement the Twins were able to generate on the offensive side of the ball over the first seven innings came following a leadoff Nick Gordon walk in the fifth. After Mark Contreras flew out to left field for the second out, Tigers starter Tarik Skubal headed back to the mound with his head down and Gordon darted to second base. The Tigers had been in a shift and nobody was near second base, and by the time Skubal noticed Gordon running he slung the ball wildly towards the bag and it bounced into the outfield, allowing Gordon to advance to third base. However, Jorge Polanco flew out to end the inning and the Twins still trailed 2-0.
Jharel Cotton came in to pitch in the sixth and threw a quick 1-2-3 frame. The Twins went down in order in the bottom of the inning, and Cotton threw another perfect inning in the top of the seventh to keep the Twins within striking distance.
With one out in the bottom of the seventh, Gio Urshela laced a drive into the right-center field gap, but Greene made a sensational diving catch. That was followed by a towering fly ball high off the out-of-town scoreboard in right-center from Gordon, but Sanchez popped out to end the inning.
After Cotton and Joe Smith combined for another perfect inning of relief, the Twins’ bats finally came to life in the bottom of the frame.
Tigers reliever Michael Fulmer struck out Contreras to start the inning on a called strike that appeared to be a few inches off the plate. But the Twins followed with four consecutive singles from their No. 1 through 4 hitters, with Jorge Polanco, Correa, and Luis Arraez loading the bases before Jose Miranda poked a high fastball the other way to plate two runs and tie the game.
Jhoan Duran pitched a dominant top of the ninth inning and the Twins had a chance to win the game in the bottom following consecutive singles from Nick Gordon and Gary Sanchez. Contreras couldn’t get a bunt down and struck out, and Polanco flew out to the warning track in deep right-center, allowing Gordon to tag up and reach third base.
Correa coaxed a walk on six pitches, but after the fourth ball bounced away Gordon took a pair of hard steps toward home plate and slipped as he decided to head back. Tigers catcher Tucker Barnhart fired the ball to Candelario and Gordon was picked off at third, robbing Arraez of the opportunity to bat with the potential winning run just 90 feet from the plate.
Griffin Jax allowed the “free runner” to score on a single poked through the middle in the top of the 10th inning but was otherwise solid.
Arraez started the bottom of the 10th with a bouncing grounder that allowed Correa to advance to third. Then, Miranda laced a single through the hole on the left side to tie the game. Tim Beckham, who entered the game for Alex Kiriloff, who can’t swing a bat due to his injured wrist but had entered the game defensively for Kyle Garlick, who left due to a rib cage injury, grounded out to first base, moving Mirando to second.
That brought up Gio Urshela, fresh off the paternity list. Urshela promptly lined the first pitch he saw from reliever Alex Lange into the grass above the center field wall, giving the Twins a dramatic, come-from-behind victory over the Tigers.
- The Twins couldn’t have asked for much of a better start from Sanchez. The former first-round pick and All-Star (Seriously! He was an All-Star with Toronto back in 2017!) had a 5.89 ERA in 2019 between Toronto and Houston and didn’t pitch in 2020. He was decent for San Francisco across nine appearances last year, but turned in an 8.33 ERA with Washington over seven starts earlier this year. He had been solid at Triple-A St. Paul for the Twins, and stepped up and was quite good for the big club on Monday night.
- Hats off to the Twins bullpen. Cotton, Smith, Duran, and Jax were all quite good.
- Miranda continues to be impressive, plating the tying runs in the eighth and the tenth innings.
- As mentioned, Garlick left the game with a rib cage injury. Because of Kiriloff’s inability to swing a bat, we ended up with three innings of Beckham in left field. Prior to Monday, Beckham, who had played in 473 MLB games over seven seasons) had appeared in just 13 big-league games as an outfielder, all coming in left field with Seattle in 2019
- Related: if you had told me that the Twins would be winning a game on August 1 with Beckham in left field and Contreras in right field, well ... I would have called you a liar. Sorry.
- Always nice to get a win when Byron Buxton gets a day off!
- Jose Miranda: 2-for-4, BB, 3 RBI, R, both game-tying singles
- Nick Gordon: 3-for-4, 2B (yes, the pickoff was bad, but he was otherwise solid)
- Gio Urshela: 2-for-5, 2 RBI, R, game-winning home run
- Aaron Sanchez: 5 IP, 2 ER, 4 H, 8 K, 2 BB
- Jharel Cotton: 2 2⁄3 IP, 3 K, no baserunners
- Actually, the whole Twins bullpen: 5 IP, H, 0 K, 0 ER, 6 K
- Absolutely, positively none. I refuse.
The Twins take on the Tigers once again on Tuesday night, and first pitch will once again be at 6:40 p.m.