The Twins held the San Francisco Giants to one measly hit through eight innings of ball on Saturday night. It was the perfect summation of Minnesota’s August woes; the pitching held their own, but the offense — despite plenty of opportunity — could simply not convert rallies into runs.
Thus, the Giants carried a 1-0 lead into the top of the ninth, their one hit a fifth-inning double, their lone run from a sacrifice fly later in the frame. Sonny Gray, Caleb Thielbar, and Griffin Jax did almost literally everything they could to keep the home crowd in the game. If your pitching coalition gives you eight innings of one-hit ball, there are almost no excuses left not to win a ballgame.
But the Twins could not score. Alex Cobb struck out seven in five shutout innings, scattering four hits. Former Twin Zack Littell added a shutout inning of his own; two more relievers came out of the Giant pen, each surrendering hits, neither allowing for runs.
The hopeless feeling of the last few weeks cast a pale over the back half of this game, particularly when San Francisco added another run in the top of the ninth, and Gilberto Celestino forgot how many outs there were (though it likely wouldn’t have mattered, with the RBI sac fly in question a bit too deep for a reasonable play at the plate.)
So, into the bottom of the ninth we went, with a 2-0 deficit, and Camilo Doval on the mound, having entered late in the eighth.
And then, life.
Life, borne of the freshly-watered outfield grass during the sudden eighth-inning hold for rain.
A four-pitch walk to Max Kepler began the ninth. But almost as soon as hope flared, it was extinguished; Celestino hit a Baltimore chop that went 1-3 in the books, and Gary Sanchez struck out on an offspeed pitch after a decent battle, leaving Kepler at second and two outs in the scoresheet.
However, it was national analyst A.J. Pierzynski who said it best, and as those of us in the Midwest know, that guy is always right, and never controversial. If the Twins could just get Luis Arraez and Carlos Correa into the box, they would have a chance.
Well, Luis would now step in, walking to extend the game. Correa would take an inside-out swing into right field, singling home Kepler (although a sprinkle of confused baserunning almost put the game in jeopardy.)
And then, of all heroes, it was Jake Cave who tiddlywinked a single to short left, tying the game at 2-2, and finally resuscitating the lineup in one of the least clutch months in recent Twins memory.
With the bulk of the work done, Rocco’s Magical Arm Barn introduced Jhoan Duran to keep things tied in the tenth inning (brought to you by Rob Manfred.) A crucial fielder’s choice cut down the Manfred Mann, and a few pitches and an Evan Longoria strikeout later, Duran had gotten the offense back on the field with the game still tied at two apiece.
While the Twins wouldn’t record a hit in the tenth, it wouldn’t matter. Nick Gordon placed down a picture-perfect sacrifice bunt, moving the winning run to third. A walk to Gio Urshela and an intentional pass to Max Kepler would load the bases for Celestino.
With nowhere to put the batter, one would think San Fran reliever Dominic Leone would put a premium on strike-throwing. But, improbably, a four-pitch walk would cycle the baserunners, plate Minnesota’s third run of the night, and seal a win on an evening where the Twins were down 2-0 with one out left to spend.
With the Guards losing in Seattle at the time of publication, the Jake Cave Clutch Rave could dance its way into a two-game deficit by the end of the evening (realistically, early Sunday morning Central time.) Whether by hook or by crook, by hit or by walk, the Twins found a way to win tonight, and there’s only one column that will matter over these next few weeks.
I’m sure you, like the Twins, will take it any way you can get it.
SS Carlos Correa (4-for-5, RBI)
LF Jake Cave (2-for-2, RBI)
RF Max Kepler (2-for-2, R, 3 BB)
Twins Pitching (10.0 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 12 K)
Not in Jacob Caveman’s house
ROBOT ROLL CALL:
According to the FOX broadcast, the Twins are the worst in the major leagues when it comes to executing comeback victories. Tonight has at least improved that number, even if three straight walks from the Giant mound is what ended the game. Plus, what are the odds of this? Both FOX games ended with a walk-off walk!