The Twins offense showed life in the late innings tonight, but came up a few feet short.
Joe Ryan started the game off well enough, but was hit hard in the third inning. After two mostly trouble-free innings, Ryan gave up two singles to start the third. Luckily, he induced a double-play ground ball from Alex Verdugo. Unluckily, Jose Miranda elected to try and pick off the lead runner. This failed, leaving the bases loaded for Xander Bogaerts, who did the slamming of grands. One fly out later, JD Martinez, who is still able to hit (running is a different story), tacked on another run with a solo shot.
With the Twins in a 5-0 hole, it was vital that the offense get up an early answer. Luis Arraez, as has been the case so often this season, came through. After a two-out single by Twins Legend Sandy Leon, Arraez took a 3-2 pitch over the right field fence, giving the home team a fighting chance.
Ryan came out and immediately ran into trouble again in the 4th, giving up a leadoff single and a HBP to start the inning. After this, he was able to settle down and get the next three batters out to keep the game at 5-2. However, the Twins were unable to capitalize on a fielding error in the bottom of the inning. Ryan would finish his day with a quiet 5th inning.
Jovani Moran came on in relief with a shaky 6th inning. After a leadoff double, Moran did strike out the side, but not before a two-out double scored what would end up being the deciding run.
The game perhaps ended up hinging on the bottom of the 6th, where the Twins squandered a leadoff walk to Carlos Correa. With one out, Max Kepler doubled, but Correa was held up at third. A Kyle Garlick ground out and Gio Urshela strikeout (on a 3-2 count) brought the inning to a close, stranding runners on 2nd and 3rd and ending Sox starter Michael Wacha’s day.
Jovani Moran ended up having a terrific day, pitching two scoreless innings after his 1-run sixth. He did allow a runner to reach third in the 7th (albeit on a throwing error by Sandy Leon), but successfully wiggled out of the jam before setting the Sox down 1-2-3 in the 8th.
In the bottom of the 7th, the Twins got another run back, taking advantage of a Nick Gordon leadoff double. Arraez would come through with the RBI on a sac fly. With dozens searching for a Carlos Correa signature moment, the troubled shortstop struck out swinging to end the inning with a runner on base and the Twins down 6-3.
In the bottom of the 8th, the Twins inched a step closer. Max Kepler and Gio Urshela singled, but Jose Miranda and Jake Cave struck out. This brought up (who else?) Nick Gordon in a key spot with two outs. Gordon delivered, bashing a double high off the right field wall and scoring two runs. Unfortunately, Gordon may have lollygagged out of the box a little bit, thinking he had just tied the game with a home run. Double unfortunately, he compounded this mistake by committing the ultimate baseball sin: the last out at third base. What should have been a stand-up triple ended up being a double and a TOOTBLAN, but the Twins were now only down one run.
Trevor Megill came in for the 9th, and promptly retired the first two batters. A 71.9 MPH ground ball by JD Martinez somehow resulted in a single, which was followed by a Trevor Story double. Fortunately, the Red Sox aren’t really trying to win baseball games, so they hadn’t pinch-run for the Thome-esque Martinez. This resulted in JD failing to score on the double, and Megill got a ground out to keep the deficit at one.
The bottom of the ninth, for all the marbles, started off well enough for the Twins. Noted dangerous men Gilberto Celestino and Gary Sanchez reached base on an infield single and walk to bring us to the top of the order. All the Twins needed from their best two batters was to hit a single and score the speedy Celestino. They failed to do so. Luis Arraez flew out, and “clutch hitter” Carlos Correa floundered in another signature moment situation, grounding into a game-ending double play.
The Twins may have whiffed on a sweep, but enter a series with the White Sox having won 5 of their past 6, and showing real fight in the contest tonight. With Chicago now 5 games out of first place, Minnesota has an opportunity to be relished: bury the White Sox season.
Nick Gordon: 2-4, 2 2B, 2 RBI, 1 R
Jovani Moran: 3.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 H, 0 BB, 5 K
Carlos Correa: 0-4, 2 K, 1 GIDP
Jose Miranda: 0-4, 1 key botched play
“Do Twin losses still allow for COTG?” - Joel Hernandez