With two weeks of nothing but Detroit Tigers and Chicago White Sox behind them, the Minnesota Twins opened up perhaps the franchise's most pivotal two week stretch in nearly a decade tonight in Boston. The Twins appeared to be sailing to an easy victory, with an early 6-0 lead, however, a couple of Red Sox home runs made things very interesting. In the end, the Twins walked away with their second one-run victory in as many days, and extended their lead in the American League Central to 6.5 games.
Thorpe: 3.1 IP, 2 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 58.3% strikes (35 of 60 pitches)
Home Runs: Cruz (35), Sano (27)
Multi-Hit Games: Arraez (2 for 4), Sano (2 for 5, HR)
WPA of +0.1: Rogers .146, Dyson .133, Cave .101
WPA of -0.1: None
Back in June, in Target Field, Rick Porcello had one of his best starts of 2019, in what has otherwise been a down season for the 2016 AL CY Young Award winner. In that start, Porcello threw seven shutout innings, leading the way to a rare Twins shutout this season. Tonight, that wouldn’t be the case, as the Twins jumped on him early. After a Max Kepler hit-by-pitch and a Nelson Cruz walk, Luis Arraez appeared to load the bases with a one-out walk of his own, but a 3-2 pitch that clearly missed the strike zone high, was called strike three. Fortunately for the Twins, Miguel Sano came up with a clutch two-out base hit, bringing Kepler around from second to score the game’s first run.
It was another clutch two-out hit that allowed the Twins to add to their lead in the third inning. Jorge Polanco started the inning with a leadoff single. That was followed by a one-out double off the Green Monster from Luis Arraez, but when Miguel Sano failed to advance either runner, thanks to a strikeout, it was up to Jake Cave to deliver. Deliver is exactly what Cave did, has he drove a high fly ball that hit high off the center field wall for a two-RBI triple.
The Twins pounced on Rick Porcello yet again in the fifth inning. It all started with this leadoff home run from Nelson Cruz.
Luis Arraez followed up that home run with a single into right field, his second hit of the game. This put an important runner on base, as Miguel Sano obliterated a baseball just a few pitches later, ending the night for Rick Porcello.
Everything was going along smoothly on the pitching side of things, until Lewis Thorpe lost all sense of command in the fifth inning.
Randy Dobnak had opened the game with a shutout first inning, striking out Rafael Devers and J.D. Martinez in the process. Thorp came in to start the second, and had three excellent innings. However, after Thorpe gave up a single, two walks and a wild pitch to the first four batters of the bottom of the fifth inning, his night was done, and on came Trevor May to get out of the jam. May got Mookie Betts to fly out to get the second out, and was one strike away from limiting the damage to one run, when Rafael Devers did this to him.
The game got even more interesting in the seventh and eighth innings. Tyler Duffey led off the seventh with two strikeouts, but after a Jackie Bradley Jr. ground-rule-double, Rocco Baldelli went to Sam Dyson, who promptly issued a wild pitch and a walk. He was able to get out of the jam, when LaMonte Wade Jr. made a long running catch to end the inning. Dyson stayed in to pitch the eighth inning, and got both Xander Bogaerts and J.D. Martinez out to lead off the inning, before getting lifted for Taylor Rogers to face the left-handed hitting Andrew Benintendi. Benintendi then proceeded to hit an opposite field home run over the Green Monster, cutting the Twins lead down to one. After hitting Mitch Moreland, Rogers was able to strike out Christian Vazquez to get out of the jam.
Things got even more nerve-racking in the bottom of the ninth for Taylor Rogers and the Minnesota Twins. Brock Holt made his way aboard with a seeing-eye single to lead off the inning. The pinch hitter, Gorkys Hernandez, then proceeded to advance him to second base with a sacrifice bunt, bringing the dangerous top of the Red Sox order up, with the tying run in scoring position and just one out. Taylor Rogers then reared back and got two of the biggest outs he has gotten all season, getting Mookie Betts to hit a comebacker to the mound for the second out, and striking out Rafael Devers to end the game.