Two of the best teams in the American League squared off in Minnesota tonight, and the result was perhaps the most exciting baseball game we have seen in quite some time. Sure, there have been a couple 18 and 17 inning marathons at Target Field of late, along with that series against Oakland over the weekend that we are still coming down from, but tonight’s game takes the cake. Unfortunately, the Twins came up short, but they had to have gained a ton of respect from baseball fans across the nation for the fight they put up tonight. And hey, lost in all this, the Blue Jays walked-off the Indians so the Twins didn’t lose any ground in the standings.
Gibson: 5 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 3 BB, 3 K, 56.4% strikes (57 of 101 pitches)
Home Runs: Polanco (15), Cruz (21), Sano 2 (16)
Multi-Hit Games: Polanco (3 for 5, HR); Rosario (2 for 6); Sano (2 for 6, 2 HR); Arraez (2 for 5); Castro (2 for 4)
WPA of +0.1: Sano .502; Garver .262; Adrianza .176; Arraez .162; Polanco .135;
WPA of -0.1: Rogers -.619; Harper -.441; Stewart -.402; Parker -.266
The Yankees got the scoring started in the top of the first, thanks to a two-out, two-RBI, two base-hit off the bat of Didi Gregorius. It appeared as though Kyle Gibson was about to work himself out of the first inning jam by striking out Yankee slugger Luke Voit. However, it wasn’t meant to be, as Gregorius drilled the first pitch of his at-bat deep to the left centerfield gap, giving the Yankees a quick two to nothing lead.
The Twins were able to answer back with a run in the bottom of the second when Luis Arraez ripped an RBI single up the middle drive in Eddie Rosario for the Twins first run of the game. After an impressive walk from Ehrie Adrianza loaded the bases, the Twins failed to capitalize on yet another bases loaded situation. Things got a little bit dicey in the top of the third when the Yankees themselves loaded the bases with two outs. However, this time Kyle Gibson was able to get out of the jam by getting Gary Sanchez to pop out to Jorge Polanco to end the inning.
The Bombasota Twins came out to play in the third inning when Jorge Polanco and Nelson Cruz went back-to-back for the second game in a row, becoming the first Twins duo to accomplish that feat in the team’s history. Additionally, the Polanco home run was his 15th of the season, which set the Twins record for most players to hit 15 home runs in a season with seven.
Ehrie Adrianza got the Twins fourth going with a leadoff double to right field. After a Domingo German wild pitch advanced Adrianza to third, Jason Castro drove him in with an opposite field single. The Twins were able to load the bases up again after a Jorge Polanco single and Nelson Curz was hit by a pitch. Eddie Rosario then bounced into an RBI groundout, brining in the Twins fifth run of the game. The Twins weren’t done in the inning, however, as Miguel Sano came up big with a three-run Sanodoubter into the upper deck in left field. This was Sano’s 15th home run of the year, extending the Twins record to eight.
It didn’t take long for the Yankees to answer right back with a three-run home run of their own off the bat of Didi Gregorius in the top of the fifth. Much like the first inning, Kyle Gibson appeared as though he was on the brink of getting out of a jam, but Gregorius yet again made Gibson pay for filling the bases early in the inning.
In the bottom of the fifth the Twins answered right back with yet another run. Jason Castro leadoff the inning with his second opposite field single in as many at-bats. Max Kepler then advanced Castro to second on a chopper to the first basemen before Jorge Polanco drove Castro in with an RBI double, extending the Twins lead to nine to five.
Cody Stashak made quite the first impression, giving the Twins two much needed scoreless innings, while striking out three Yankee hitters. They weren’t the smoothest of innings, however, as Stashak did give up four hits. However, when it mattered most, buckled down and got some big outs to keep the Yankees off the board.
The lack of depth in the Twins bullpen reared its ugly head in the top of the 8th, when the Twins had to turn to Blake Parker to protect the lead against the Bronx Bombers. Parker proceeded to walk the leadoff hitter, before allowing doubles to three of the next four Yankee hitters, and before you know it the Twins lead was cut to one. Tyler Duffey then came in to try and get the Twins out of the jam. He came in and struck out Edwin Encarnacion and appeared to strike out Luke Voit, but what should have been ruled strike three was instead ruled ball four keeping the inning alive for, you guessed it, Didi Gregorius who came through yet again with another two-out, two-run, two-bagger to give the Yankees a 10 to 9 lead.
In previous years, the Twins would have been deflated by this crushing blow and folded, however, the 2019 Twins are not the Twins of old. After Nelson Curz leadoff the inning with a ground out, Eddie Rosario reached on an infield single, setting the table for yet another Sanodoubter to give the Twins back the lead.
In came Taylor Rogers to close the door on the Yankees in the 9th. After he picked up two quick outs, you thought to yourself, no way this is a repeat of what happened on Saturday, but unfortunately that is exactly what happened. Rogers then walked the Yankees 9th hitter and then proceeded to give up a go ahead two-run home run to Aaron Hicks, giving the Yankees a 12 to 11 lead.
Aroldis Chapman then came in to close the door on the Twins, but they still had some fight in them. Ehrie Adrainza, Mitch Garver (who pinch hit for Jason Castro) and Max Kepler drew three straight walks to load the bases with nobody out. Jorge Polanco then put together a great plate appearance that ended with a hard-line drive into the outfield that off the bat appeared would be in the gap. Unfortunately for the Twins, Yankeed left fielder Mike Tauchman tracked it down. Adrianza was able to score on the play, tying the game. The Twins were unable to add any more runs, after a Nelson Cruz flyout and an Eddie Rosario blooper was snared down by Didi Gregorius.
In the top of the 10th the Twins had to turn to Kohl Stewart to keep the game tied. After DJ LeMahieu lined a ball off Stewart that deflected right to Luis Arraez for the first out of the inning, Didi Gregorius came to the plate, and you can just about guess what happened. Gregorius lined a base hit to left field and got a Yankee rally of three straight hits to take back the lead going. When all was said and done the Yankees scored two and took a 14 to 12 lead into the bottom of the 10th.
The Twins faced another big challenge in the bottom of the 10th, this time trying to come from behind against Adam Ottavino. Miguel Sano began the inning by striking out looking, before Ottavino seemed to lose all sense of control. He proceeded to walk Marwin Gonzalez and Luis Arraez. Ehrie Adrianza then hit a hard ground ball up the middle, but Didi Gregorius made a nifty play to almost turn two and end the game. Then it was Mitch Garver’s turn at the plate, and just like in his pinch-hit plate appearance in the 9th, he drew a big walk. With the bases loaded and two-outs, Aaron Boone turned to Chad Green to face Max Kepler. Kepler worked himself into a 2 and 1 hitters count and got a pitch to drive, and that’s exactly what he did with it, but yet again it was former Twin Aaron Hicks who crushed Twins fans hopes and dreams with this amazing diving catch to end the ballgame. Had that ball gotten down, it would have very likely cleared the bases and been Kepler’s third walk-off hit of the season.
Rocco Baldelli with some very honest comments following the game.
Baldelli also noted that there would be roster moves before tomorrow night's game, but did not give any specifics.
Next Three Games
Wed vs NYY, 7:10 pm CT (Happ-Odorizzi)
Thur at CHW, 7:10 pm CT (Berrios-Giolito)
Fri at CHW, 7:10 pm CT (Pineda-Cease)