MINNEAPOLIS – Two months from now, it’s very likely that these two teams – the Twins and the Blue Jays – will meet again at this stadium in the first round of the playoffs. It sure felt like a post-season match, too, with two fan bases cheering back and forth for each other in one of Target Field’s most electric environments this season, the start of the Twins’ newly acquired frontline on the hill and a tight battle of escapes. Till the end.
The twins stumbled upon these kinds of big games that led to Deadline Trade. But on Friday they took some gifts from the Blue Jays and found a way to persevere.
After newcomer Michael Vollmer survived a rule-filled jam at the top of the 10th inning, the twins took advantage of a pair of defensive errors to emerge with a poor victory over a wrong player selection, with Nick Gordon sliding across the home plate on a fall. Throw by Toronto catcher Danny Jansen to give Minnesota a messy 6-5 win in 10 runs over the Blue Jays.
With Cleveland losing to Houston, the twins won a Central American League game for the first time since Saturday.
“It definitely just shows that the atmosphere there, in those kinds of ball games, that we can win and that we’re in,” Gordon said. “I’ve never been to the qualifiers in the major tournaments, but this definitely felt like an intense match there….Playing teams like that – good teams definitely fight to the end. He teaches you and shows you.”
With Gordon standing second as the auto sprinter to start the 10th round, Jake fired Cave, but fired first after the ball went away from Janssen and arrived first after a foul by Janssen. Then with one hit, Tim Beckham cuts a mill to third base, and Jansen couldn’t handle his one-jump throw on the board as Gordon slid across the house, clipping him with his left arm.
“I was actually skating and watching the ball catcher, so I was actually seeing the ball fall and I was kind of screaming at the referee,” Gordon said. “I was like, ‘Safe, safe.’ “I wish he’d hear me.”
The twins had a chance to win without all that drama in the ninth inning, when newly acquired Jorge Lopez entered with a 5-4 lead, allowed a pair of singles to land and came within a stroke of victory before Rimel Tapia blew up. Ways to tie the game in a shallow central field.
Although Lopez’s second chance to save his new team didn’t go as smoothly as his first after taking it over from the Oriole on Tuesday’s trade deadline, the Twins’ latest arrival still set the stage for that victory, even if it wasn’t. running smoothly as they possibly planned.
Late drama overshadowed the Twins’ appearance by director Tyler Mahle after its acquisition from the Reds. The right-hander allowed four runs over three hurdles, the highest level of the season, but just making six innings has been a rarity for the Twins lately, with the 27-year-old becoming the first to get that deep. In a game since Sonny Gray threw six runs on July 24, about two weeks ago.
And with the newly fortified Twins game, that will usually work. Handing the ball over to a combination of Griffin Jax, Fulmer, Jhoan Duran and López to get past the last three innings usually results in a win.
“It was a great first impression,” said coach Rocco Baldele. “It’s kind of a shooter, and you get a chance to see what that looked like. … Six strokes, I mean, that’s exactly what we’re looking for. We can hand it to the reins from there.”
In this case, since Mahle’s outing ensured that only three of those back arms were used for nine innings, the twins still had Vollmer available for the tenth inning. The long-time right-hander allowed the Tigers to walk and singles to load the bases, but he hit both Teoscar Hernández and Bo Bichette to set the starting signal at third base, which resulted in the Twins winning.
“To finish the half by going straight to the players, things were pretty cool,” Baldeli said.
The new guys have already shown how they can help. If this is, indeed, a preview of what could happen in the post-season, the twins are certainly better prepared.
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