Kenta Maeda began with a bit of a rough inning; the Mets got a leadoff homer from Brandon Nimmo, then worked Jeff McNeil around the bases with a pair of singles and a stolen bag to make it 2-0 New York.
From there, he — and the Twins as a whole — found the groove, The Emperor’s New-style.
Maeda would only strike out two on the day, but allowed just two more hits after the first inning, pitching into the sixth and holding the Mets at two runs. It wasn’t a world-beating start, but Maeda lowered his ERA to 4.65 and demonstrated the sort of veteran cool the Twins have relied on from their talented starting rotation.
Meanwhile, the offense didn’t let the early deficit get to their heads.
Met starter David Peterson only gave up three runs and struck out eight, but with the Mets held to two for the first seven innings, he wound up on the hook for the loss. The Twins responded early, a two-out, two-run second-inning single from Donovan Solano making up for two stranded runners in the first.
Kyle Farmer would add another two-out RBI single in the third to push Minnesota ahead.
The Kody Funderburks and Caleb Thielbars of the world held the line until the home seventh, when Drew Smith revealed his status as a rather transparent double-agent. Willi Castro singled to start the inning, but was caught stealing ahead of an Alex Kirilloff walk and Jorge Polanco strikeout.
From there, Royce Lewis singled and Carlos Correa walked, loading the bases for Jordan Luplow, to which Rocco Baldelli said “Not today, buddy,” and pinch-hit Max Kepler.
Kepler came about a foot from going yard, but settled for a bases-clearing, game-breaking triple, and supplemented the swing with one of the sleekest slides of the season.
Some late-game fireworks altered the final. Louis Varland received another audition for late-inning postseason work, but allowed homers to both Pete Alonso (43) and DJ Stewart (11) to sour a demonstration of high-90s velocity. Not content to watch the display from the dugout, Willi Castro retorted with his sixth shot of the year to push the lead to its 8-4 final.
Dylan Floro closed things out with two K’s in the ninth, cementing the series win against the New York Mets, and continuing Minnesota’s feel-good September roll.
The magic number falls to a tantalizing 14, with the Guardians and Angels squaring up tonight. Keep an eye on that scoreboard — we’re getting close!
LF Jordan Luplow (2-for-3, R)
PH-RF Max Kepler (1-for-1, R, 3 RBI, 3B)
3B Kyle Farmer (3-for-4, 2 RBI, 2B)
CF-LF Willi Castro (3-for-4, 2 R, RBI, 2B, HR)
NO DUDS! TWINS WIN! TWINS WIN!
ROBOT ROLL CALL:
Uncle Lincoln asks us to keep our standards high.