The Twins jumped out to an early lead again on Sunday, and they had plenty of opportunities to add on. Nelson Cruz added some insurance in the ninth, but things got interesting again in the bottom of the ninth inning. However, Taylor Rogers got the save and the Twins evened their season series with the Royals.
The Minnesota Twins kicked off the scoring in Sunday’s afternoon affair with a couple of 2-out hits in the first inning. The first, a 107 MPH double off the bat of Miguel Sanó to drive in Max Kepler, followed by a RBI single off the bat of Eddie Rosario to give the Twins a 2-0 lead to begin the game. The 2 first inning runs continued the Minnesota Twins’ strength of first inning scoring, as they have now scored 27 first inning runs in 29 games this season.
The Twins then built on their lead in the 3rd inning in what was one of the more exciting innings you’ll see from the Minnesota Twins. The 3rd inning rally began with a rare infield single by Nelson Cruz. Following the Cruz single, the Twins got another single from Miguel Sanó, who has been on fire since shaking off his initial rust after a late start to the 2020 season. With runners on first and second, Eddie Rosario laid down a drag bunt for a single to load the bases for Marwin Gonzalez. Marwin wasted no time to tack onto the Twins lead, knocking a 2-run double on the first pitch to put the Twins up 4-0.
The Royals quickly began to chip away at Minnesota’s lead, though, as they strung together a hit by pitch, a Hunter Dozier double, and a 2-run Jorge Soler double in the bottom of the third inning to immediately cut the Twins lead in half.
In the bottom of the 7th inning, the Royals trimmed their deficit again after getting a 2-out RBI single from third baseman, Maikel Franco, cutting the Twins’ lead to just one run.
In what became a much closer game than it had any business becoming, the Minnesota Twins needed some insurance and like a good neighbor, Nelson Cruz was there. In the top of the 9th inning in a one-run game, Nelson Cruz went yard off of the extremely tough Trevor Rosenthal, blasting a 107 MPH shot to center field to give the Twins a 2 run lead heading into the bottom of the 9th inning.
Taylor Rogers allowed for some 9th inning drama to creep in as he allowed one run and two hits (one double) and had the Royals with the winning run on 1st base with 2 outs. Rogers was able to escape from the jam, though, and get the Minnesota Twins a 2-1 series win. Should Taylor Rogers remain the team’s closer?
Some additional notes:
Bullpen Game Produces Another Win
Because of all of the injuries to Minnesota’s starting rotation, the Twins have needed to turn to bullpen games throughout this shortened 2020 season. These bullpen games, however, have produced good results for the Twins, as they are now 3-1 in bullpen games this season. While Devin Smeltzer struggled a bit in innings 3-4 with taming Kansas City’s bats, the Twins got excellent appearances from each of the other relievers they turned to today, with Matt Wisler, Trevor May, Sean Poppen, Sergio Romo, Tyler Clippard and Taylor Rogers allowing a combined 2 earned runs in 8 innings pitched.
Sanó Está En Fuego
Miguel Sanó continued his absolute tear at the plate in today’s game, going 3-for-4 with a walk, 2 doubles, and an RBI. The big guy is now 15 for his last 38 (.395) with 10 extra base hits over his last 12 games. Miguel Sanó clearly had some rust to knock off after getting a late start to the season with his COVID-19 diagnosis, and has clearly knocked off that rust. For the season he now boasts a .879 OPS, second on the Minnesota Twins and only trailing Nelson Cruz for best on the team.
In a game in which the Minnesota Twins chased the starting pitcher in 3.1 innings, posted 13 hits, and an expected batting average of .358, putting up just 5 runs is a disappointment. The story of the offense today was missed opportunities and leaving runners on base. The Twins left 11 runners on base in today’s game and were just 3-17 with runners in scoring position. Against a team like the Royals, you can survive without converting opportunities, but when fiercer competition comes their way, the Twins will have to convert on the opportunities that come their way.
Another Injured Pitcher
After throwing another scoreless inning in Sunday’s ballgame, the appearance for Tyler Clippard ended in scary fashion. On the final out of the bottom of the 8th inning, Clippard was drilled on the elbow with a 100 MPH liner from Whit Merrifield. Following the liner, Clippard slowly made his way back to the dugout with the type of body language that induces fear into a fanbase that has been able to rely on the right hander all season. In Rocco Baldelli's press conference, the managers said that initial imaging from Clippard didn't show anything serious but that he "doesn't anticipate (Clippard) throwing a baseball anytime in the very near future". To date, Clippard has a 1.42 ERA in 13.2 innings with the Twins
Today marked the final game of the Minnesota Twins 10-game slate versus the Kansas City Royals in 2020. The Royals posed a much stiffer competition to the Twins than anyone anticipated, as the two teams split the season series 5-5, with the Twins scoring 36 runs over the 10 games compared to 38 for the Royals.
The Minnesota Twins are now 19-10 on the season and lead the American League Central by 1.5 games. The Twins will continue their road trip Monday evening in a matchup against the second place Cleveland Indians — Minnesota will trout Kenta Maeda out on the hill to face Indians starter Aaron Civale.