Kenta Maeda nearly pitched the sixth no-hitter in Twins history, carrying a no-no into the ninth inning Tuesday night. He set a new franchise record by striking out eight consecutive batters at one point. Taylor Rogers blew the save, but the Twins pulled out the win in the 12th inning.
Maeda: 8.0 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 12 K
Home Runs: None
Win Probability Chart (via Baseball Savant):
There have been five no-hitters in Minnesota Twins history, and seven in franchise history if you count the two by the Washington Senators, which includes one by the great Walter Johnson in 1920. Kenta Maeda gave himself a great shot at becoming the sixth pitcher to throw a no-hitter in Twins history, taking the no-no into the ninth.. Unfortunately, that wasn’t meant to be, as it was broken up by an Eric Sogard base-hit into centerfield, that was just out of the reach of Jorge Polance, to leadoff the ninth.
The new Twins record streak of eight consecutive strikeouts for Kenta Maeda began with the second out in the third inning, when Maeda got Eric Sogard on a changeup. He then polished off Avisial Garcia with three straight fastballs to end the third. Maeda then work his most impressive inning with the Twins, striking out the heart of the Brewers order, that includes Christian Yelich, Keston Hiura and Justin Smoak. In the fifth, Maeda tied the previously held Twins record of seven consecutive strikeouts by getting Omar Narvaez on a changeup for the second out of the inning. The table was then set for Maeda to break the record, which he did with ease, taking care of Ben Gamel on three pitches for his eighth consecutive strikeout.
Overall, it was an excellent outing for Kenta Maeda, beyond just not allowing a hit until the ninth. He struck out 12 batters for just the fourth time in his MLB career, allowed just one run on one hit and two walks. So far, Maeda is looking like an excellent offseason acquisition for the Twins, and is up there with Nelson Cruz and Randy Dobnak for the early team MVP.
Brewers pitcher Corbin Burnes was matching Maeda pitch for pitch through the first four innings of the ballgame, having retired 13 of the 14 batters that he faced. Yes, he retired 13 batters in just four innings of work, as Max Kepler reached first base on a dropped third strike, which remains the dumbest “written” rule in baseball in this writer’s opinion.
The Twins were finally able to break through in the bottom of the fifth, when Luis Arraez leadoff the inning with a double, for the first hit of the ballgame. He was immediately brought in, as Miguel Sano delivered a double of his own. The Twins were able to load the bases with two outs for Nelson Cruz, which has seemed like a guaranteed run scoring situation of late. However, Cruz showed that he is indeed human, as he struck out to end the inning.
Jorge Polanco was able to tack on an insurance run in the seventh, with a clutch two-out base hit past the first basemen. The inning got started with yet another Miguel Sano double, his third in the last two games. Ehire Adrianza then came in to pinch-run for Sano, and replace him in the field. He would later come around to score on the RBI single from Polanco.
The offense helped make the decision to send Maeda back out for the ninth by tacking on another insurance run in the eighth. Eddie Rosario drew a four pitch walk to leadoff the inning. He then stole second on what was originally ruled a strike’em out throw’em out double play. However, after a Twins challenge, the call was overturned, and Rosario was ruled safe. Rosario advance to third during the next plate appearance on a Angel Perdomo balk. After Luis Arraez walked, Ehire Adrianza brought in Rosario on a perfectly placed squeez bunt. The bunt was so well placed, the Adrianza actually got a hit. The inning came to an end the next batter on a very rare Byron Buxton double play.
The top of the ninth was brutal to watch as a Twins fan, and quite frankly I don’t really want to write about it, and I’m sure none of you guys want to read about it, so here is the gist, 2020 sucks.
After they failed to score in the bottom of the ninth, the Twins went to extra innings for the first time this season. That means this was the first look for the Twins with the new runner starting on second base rule. Caleb Thielbar came in to pitch in the top of the inning for the Twins, and did an excellent job, as he sent the Brewers down 1-2-3, without even allowing the runner to advance from second. Josh Hader came in to pitch for the Brewers in the bottom of the inning and was able to match Thielbar’s performance.
The 11th inning was more of the same, as both teams were still unable to advance the runner on second over to third. Jorge Alcala pitched a gem of an inning, as he allowed a one out walk to Christian Yelich, but kept the runner at second from getting to third. Then the Twins set a new franchise record in this game, by having just two hitters come to the plate in the bottom of the 11th. Ehire Adrianza hit a chopper to first, and Ildemaro Vargas was thrown out trying to advance from second. Byron Buxton then ended the inning on the very next pitch, as he grounded into yet another shocking double play.
The 12th inning was anything but a replica of the first two extra innings of this ballgame. With Alcala still pitching for the Twins, Ryan Braun leadoff the inning with a single to left, finally advancing the lead runner to third. Then after a Manny Pina popout, Max Kepler made this incredible diving catch on what looked like a sure fire go-ahead base hit by Orlando Arcia.
Fortunately for the Twins, Jedd Gyorko was not tagging up on the play, and did not score. Jorge Alcala then picked up the biggest strikeout of his life, getting Luis Urias to end the inning.
With Byron Buxton making the last out in the 11th, the Twins were able to start the bottom of the 12th with his speed on second, and did that ever come in handy. Alex Avila advance Buxton over to third with a swinging bunt to the first basemen to leadoff the inning. This led the Brewers to bring Ryan Braun in from the outfield to be the Brewers fifth infielder. After Max Kepler was hit by a pitch, Jorge Polanco came up big again, as he hit a weak groundball to second base, and Byron Buxton was able to slide in head first just ahead of the tag to secure the 4-3 win for the Minnesota Twins. Polanco’s groundball measured at just 45.6 MPH off the bat, and was the second slowest hit ball all game, behind only Ehire Adrianza’s squeeze bunt in the seventh inning.
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