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Twins 4, Mariners 3 (10 innings): Another late-inning miracle

The Twins came through again after trailing in the bottom of the ninth inning

MLB: Seattle Mariners at Minnesota Twins
Carlos Correa was the Twins’ latest walk-off hero.
Nick Wosika-USA TODAY Sports

Talk about a roller coaster. This entire game had a case of whiplash, really.

The first four innings were all about the starting pitchers. Kenta Maeda scattered several baserunners, allowing at least one in each of the first three innings, but Seattle never advanced a man past second base. He also struck out five batters in the first four innings, all on his splitter.

On the flip side, the Twins didn’t get their first baserunner until the bottom of the fourth, when Eddie Julien coaxed a one-out walk.

Even with Maeda’s Houdini act early, Mariners scored before the home team. Catcher Tom Murphy somehow poked the ball over the tall wall just to the right of the batter’s eye to lead off the top of the fifth. Maeda gave up a two-out double to J.P. Crawford later in the game but kept the game 1-0.

The Twins answered immediately, with Max Kepler scratching out the Twins’ first hit to lead off the bottom of the frame. After a flyout from Matt Wallner and an insane over-the-shoulder catch from Eugenio Suarez on a Willi Castro foul pop-up, Trevor Larnach tripled off the wall in right-center to score Kepler from first. Christian Vazquez fought off an inside fastball and pushed it down the left-field line to score Larnach, and the Twins had a 2-1 lead.

Maeda came back out for a three-up, three-down sixth inning. The Twins threatened again when they got back up to bat but Julien made the third out at third base after another Kepler single.

Maeda walked two out of the first three batters of the seventh but Jovani Moran came on to get the final two outs of the half-inning. After a scoreless bottom of the seventh, Jordan Balazovic gave up a leadoff single to Julio Rodriguez but stranded him on third, coming through once again in what is becoming an increasingly high-leverage role for the rookie.

The Twins went down again quickly in the bottom of the inning, and with Jhoan Duran unavailable, Griffin Jax came on to attempt to protect the slimmest of leads in the ninth.

Jax retired Ty France on one pitch and struck out Murphy on five pitches. But Cal Raleigh pushed a single through the shift on the seventh pitch of his at-bat, and, improbably, pinch-hitter Kolten Wong — owner of a sub-.500 OPS coming into the game — hooked a spinning breaking ball into the front-right corner of the overhang in right field to give the Mariners a 3-2 lead.

The Twins, however, rekindled their ninth-inning magic from Sunday in the bottom of the ninth against the usually solid Andres Munoz. After a Kyle Farmer groundout, Alex Kirilloff came through in the second straight game by knocking a double off the glove of a leaping Taylor Trammell in the left-center field gap. Kepler got yet another hit, yanking a breaking ball on the outer part of the plate down the right-field line for a double, scoring Kirilloff to tie the game. Wallner struck out, Willi Castro was intentionally walked, and pinch-hitter Donovan Solano struck out to send the game to extras.

With Jax used and Duran not available, Twins manager Rocco Baldelli turned to the enigmatic Jorge Lopez. The move felt equal parts “we’re playing with house money after tying this one” and “if he can’t find himself in low-leverage spots, let’s give him a high-leverage one and see what happens.” Indeed, Lopez pitched well getting a pair of weak ground balls and a pop-up to second base, stranding the automatic runner at second base.

In the bottom of the 10th, Vazquez immediately bunted the Twins’ automatic runner, Solano, to third base. My initial reaction was that it was a mistake, given that Joey Gallo was on deck and getting even a sacrifice fly out of him would be a stretch. Indeed, the Twins pinch-hit Ryan Jeffers for Gallo, but then another weird strategic decision unfolded: an attempt at a safety squeeze with the winning run on third.

A suicide squeeze, sure, but a safety seemed strange. With first and second base open, the Mariners simply didn’t cover first and ensured that the runner didn’t score from first. Now, Seattle had the double play in order and the winning run still standing on third base — effectively the same as if they’d intentionally walked the batter.

It worked out for the Twins, of course, as Carlos Correa laced a two-strike pitch to right field that evaded a sliding Teoscar Hernandez as Minnesota walked off for the second consecutive day.


  • This is apparently the Twins’ recipe: great pitching and defense and better-late-than-never offense. At the moment, living dangerously is working.
  • Max Kepler has had a hit in every game he’s started since the All-Star break except for one and is hitting .341 during that span. Yours truly isn’t quite as ready as, say, Dick Bremer to declare 2019 Max Kepler as back, but things are certainly trending in the right direction.
  • Other than Jax’s one mistake pitch to Wong, the Twins bullpen was fantastic once again, even without having to lean on Duran.


  • Max Kepler: 3-for-4, game-tying RBI, R, 2B
  • Trevor Larnach: 1-for-3, triple, RBI
  • Christian Vazquez: 1-for-3, go-ahead RBI, sac bunt in 10th
  • Carlos Correa: 1-for-5, game-winning RBI
  • Kenta Maeda: 6 13 IP, 6 H, 8 K, 2 BB, ER


  • None — Twins win, Twins win!