After a brutal weekend series against the Cleveland Indians, the Minnesota Twins needed an easy win, along with some help from the Boston Red Sox, to regain the division lead. For a while it looked like that would be the case, as the Twins held a 4-1 lead over the Brewers and the Red Sox, a 6-1 lead over the Indians in the later innings. However, easy would not even come close to describing how things went down to give the Twins back the lead in the AL Central.
Image courtesy of FanGraphs
Perez: 6 IP, 6 H, 0 ER, 4 BB, 3 K, 61.4% strikes (54 of 88 pitches)
Home Runs: Garver (22), Gonzalez (14)
Multi-Hit Games: Rosario (2 for 4, BB), Gonzalez (2 for 4, HR)
WPA of +0.1: Gonzalez .593, Perez .252, Rosario .153, Garver .128,
WPA of -0.1: Harper -.670, Cron -.103
Martin Perez worked himself into a little bit of trouble in the first after allowing a couple of singles to Keston Hiura and Ryan Braun, though he was able to work out of it when Yasmani Grandal flew out to Eddie Rosario in left. The Twins were able to get a threat of their own going in the top of the second, thanks to a Luis Arraez base hit and a C.J. Cron hit-by-pitch, both coming with one out. However, with the game being played in a National League ballpark, the Twins' hopes of scoring in the inning relied almost entirely on the number eight hitter Marwin Gonzalez to come though with a hit. Once he flew out, Martin Perez, who has just one career hit, came to the plate and promptly struck out, ending the Twins threat.
The Twins were able to get the scoring going in the top of the third thanks to a Max Kepler leadoff walk, followed by Mitch Garver blasting his 22nd home run of the season. Garver is now just three home runs behind Gary Sanchez for the most home runs by a catcher in the American League, despite having roughly 90 fewer plate appearances.
After the Garver home run, the Twins bats were able to tack on another run. Eddie Rosario drew a rare walk, with one out in the inning, which was followed by a Miguel Sano groundball single, thanks to a lack of communication among the Brewers infielders. This set the table for Luis Arraez, who was able to bring Rosario in from third with an RBI-groundout.
In the bottom of the third, the Brewers put together a two-out rally after a Ryan Braun walk and a Yasmani Grandal single. This brought Mike Moustakas to the plate, who appeared to have an RBI-single, before Jorge Polanco made this spectacular play to end the inning.
After Martin Perez escaped unscathed through the first three innings, the Brewers were able to bring a run across the plate in the fourth. With one out, the Brewers number eight hitter, Hernan Perez singled, setting up an obvious bunt situation with Brewers pitcher Chase Anderson coming to the plate. Anderson was able to get the bunt down, and Martin Perez seemed to execute it perfectly, going to second to easily get the lead runner. However the throw from Perez sailed a bit and bounced off Jorge Polanco’s glove, and instead of a potential inning-ending double play, the Brewers had first and third with just one out. They were able to bring the run home on the next batter, when Lorenzo Cain just barely beat out the doubleplay relay throw.
The Twins were able to extend their lead back up to three in the top of the seventh. Marwin Gonzalez got the inning started with a leadoff single, then Ehrie Adrianza came through with a pinch-hit RBI double. Unfortunately, Adrianza was stranded on the bases, preventing what could have been a big inning that could have burst the game open.
That came back to haunt the Twins in the bottom of the inning, when Ryne Harper gave up four runs, without recording an out, capped off by this three-run home run by Yasmani Grandal.
To make matters worse, at that exact same moment, the Cleveland Indians came back from a 6-1 deficit to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth, thanks to a Francisco Lindor double. Fortunately for the Twins, the Red Sox were able to get out of the inning to force extras, where Jackie Bradley Jr. came up big with a go-ahead home run. In the bottom of the 10th, Andrew Cashner, of all people, came in and closed the door on the Indians loss.
Back in Milwaukee, things still looked bleak for the Twins in the top of the eighth. Despite a leadoff double from Eddie Rosario, which was followed by a Miguel Sano walk, Luis Arraez and C.J. Cron were unable to even advance them. This set the table for one of the biggest at-bats for the Twins all season. With two-outs, and the tying run on second, the Brewers turned to shutdown closer Josh Hader to face Marwin Gonzalez, and on the first pitch, Gonzalez took Hader deep to left-center field for a three-run home run, putting the Twins back up by a score of 7-5.
With Taylor Rogers apparently unavailable for tonight’s game, Rocco Baldelli had to turn to trade-deadline acquisitions Sam Dyson, who came back off the injured list tonight, and Sergio Romo, to close the door on the Twins victory. After Dyson went 1-2-3 in the bottom of the eighth, Romo was able to finish off the save in the ninth, giving the Twins one of their biggest wins of the season.