The bullpen giveth away, the bats taketh back.
The story had been like every other, the Twins taking an early lead only to hand it back to their opponent in the late innings. Then it wasn’t.
After the bullpen gave back a 3-0 lead in the eighth, Max Kepler brought home Luis Arraez with a bloop single in the bottom of the ninth, Minnesota’s first final-frame run of the season, to give the Twins a 4-3 walk-off win over the Red Sox.
Much has been said during the Twins’ losing streak about their inability to hit with runners in scoring position or to send baseballs over the fence. Although not an offensive explosion, Minnesota executed in both areas to put their runs on the scoreboard.
In the bottom of the second inning, Jake Cave hit into what appeared to be a one-out fielder’s choice at second. However, Miguel Sanó immediately signaled to the dugout that he was safe, and replays agreed, as Bobby Dalbec’s throw pulled Xander Bogaerts off the bag. After Ryan Jeffers followed with a single, Riddle bounced into a fielder’s choice at home for the second out. But with a full count and the runners going, Arraez grounded Garrett Richards’ offering across the infield dirt and into right field for a two-run single.
Richards left the game after five, but Sanó greeted Hirokazu Sawamura by sending the third pitch of the sixth inning into the second deck in left.
As key as the hitting ended up being, the starting pitching was stellar.
Avoiding any Carlos Rodón-like stress, Michael Pineda avoided any no-hitter chances by allowing a single to leadoff batter Kiké Hernández. The rest of his game was very Rodón-like, as Pineda threw 88 pitches across seven innings, allowing just two hits and a walk. Naturally, he’d end up without a decision.
With the Twins up 3-0, Hansel Robles replaced Pineda in the eighth and did a poor imitation of either Pineda or Rodón, immediately plunking Christian Arroyo and walking a pair (with two outs between the free passes) to load the bases. Rocco Baldelli summoned Taylor Rogers, who battled Alex Verdugo for 10 pitches (including a would-be foul-tip third strike that popped out of Jeffers’ mitt) before Verdugo cleared the bases with a double down the left field line.
Minnesota had a prime chance to retake the lead in the bottom of the eighth. Kyle Garlick led off with a double and Sanó walked. Jake Cave bunted the runners over, but Ryan Jeffers struck out, an at-bat that saw Red Sox manager Alex Cora tossed for arguing a bad foul tip call, and pinch hitter Mitch Garver lined out to third to end the opportunity runless.
But after Alex Colomé worked around a double to keep Boston scoreless in the top of the ninth, the end came quickly.
Arraez lined his fourth single of the game into right-center before Jorge Polanco took an Adam Ottavino toss off the foot to put two men on. After Nelson Cruz struck out, Kepler sent a soft bloop into no-man’s land; Arraez, running hard on contact, slid headfirst across the plate, givng Minnesotans a long-waited win and sparing viewers from the unfortunate spectacle of Manfredball.
- Michael Pineda, SP: 7.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, BB, 6 K
- Luis Arraez, LF-3B-2B: 4-5, 4 1B, 2 RBI, GW R, sweet diving catch
- Miguel Sanó, 1B-3B (yes, he played the ninth inning at third): 1-2, solo HR, 2 BB
- Max Kepler, RF: 1-5, walkoff single
- Hansel Robles, RP: 0.2 IP, 0 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, HBP, K
- Willians Astudillo, 3B: 0-3, 3 popouts, but also had a sweet diving catch
- Rob Manfred, commissioner: made me worry about having to watch baseball with ghost runners again
- Jordan Baker, home plate umpire: called an obvious Jeffers swinging strike a foul tip
CALLING THE ROLL: