Gang, I’m gonna keep it simple.
Once every couple of weeks, the Twins offense turns in a performance that almost makes you forget about the strikeout-prone woes of the last stretch of games. Never mind Minnesota’s seventeen (!?) strikeouts in Saturday’s second game; the real, bona-fide takeaways are the 7 runs put up by the Twinkies in the visiting eighth, and the general vibe of not rolling over after the third.
A coalition of Toronto pitchers baffled Minnesota’s lineup, as has been routinely expected. Trevor Richards went three and struck out seven; the next two relievers clocked three innings and gave up three combined baserunners.
By and large, it was looking like “same old, same old,” as Joe Ryan’s three runs allowed over six innings — a fine, dependable start — nevertheless produced what seemed like an insurmountable deficit for the local lineup. Whit Merrifield and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. had early RBI singles; a sacrifice fly from Nathan Lukes scored George Springer in the fifth to make it 3-0 Toronto.
But for once, Minnesota wanted to stay in a game.
First, it was Trevor Larnach corking a solo shot to make it 3-1 in the seventh. Then, an 8th-inning onslaught turned the game upside-down. Michael A. Taylor bunted his way aboard to lead off the inning. Recent call-up Edouard Julien singled behind him, as did Donovan Solano, which set up a seminal NOBLETIGER opportunity that crept into the collective consciousness when Alex Kirilloff struck out with the bags packed.
Thankfully, Carlos Correa was ready for a big moment.
With one out in the inning, Correa blasted a grand slam into left-center field, certainly his defining moment of the 2023 season, and pushed Minnesota into a 5-3 lead after they trailed all afternoon.
From there, it was all Twins; three batters later, a Max Kepler three-run bomb added some crucial insurance, and an inning later back-to-back doubles awarded an RBI to Alex Kirilloff that extended the lead even further.
The Twin offense picked up Ryan; Jorge Lopez kept the Jays off the board, and Jose De Leon did enough to keep the game within a decent enough distance to guarantee a comfortable Minnesota victory (well, after Brock Stewart was handed the ball amidst some ninth-inning Canadian life.)
It was a huge win for the Twins, cementing a series victory north of the border, and proving that this major-league roster can, in fact, make contact with a baseball in their moments of particular need.
The series concludes tomorrow, and after a sweep at the hands of the Rays, the Twins have a chance to even the scales with a surprising scrub of the Blue Jays. Hope to see you there in tomorrow afternoon’s gamethread!
2B Edouard Julien (2-for-3, R, BB)
DH Donovan Solano (3-for-5, 2 R)
SS Carlos Correa (1-for-5, R, 4 RBI, HR)
RF Max Kepler (2-for-4, R, 3 RBI)
NOT IN THIS COUNTRY