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MIN 5, DET 4: Kepler Delivers Walk-Off Hit, Twins 1/2 Game Back in Division

The Tigers continued to give them everything they could handle, but the Twins prevailed on a walk-off hit by Max Kepler. With Cleveland coming back in the bottom of the 10th to beat the White Sox, the Twins are now just a half game back in the division.

Box Score

Bailey: 3.0 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 K

Home Runs: Buxton (13), Garver (2), Kepler (9)

Top 3 WPA: Kepler .650, Rosario .490, Stashak .320

It was a promising beginning for Homer Bailey in his first appearance back since July 28th, as Bailey didn’t allow a baserunner through his first three innings of work. The fourth inning, however, was not so great as Bailey allowed a hit-by-pitch, two singles and a walk to the first four batters that he faced. This allowed the Tigers to tie the game and load the bases with nobody out.

This led to Rocco Baldelli’s decision to go to the pen to get Cody Stashak to try and get out of Homer Bailey’s jam, and he did just that. The first batter Stashak faced was Brandon Dixon, who promptly hit into an unconventional 6-2-5 double play. Stashak then got Niko Goodrum to fly out to center field to get out of the inning.

Byron Buxton got the game started for the Twins offense in the bottom of the first, when he belted a leadoff home run that stayed just fair down the left field line, giving the Twins an early 1-0 lead. Buxton was then presented with Nelson Cruz’s robe, that was a personal gift Josh Donaldson presented to his teammates prior to tonight’s game.

The Twins bats were silent until the fourth inning, when Mitch Garver absolutely mashed a one out, solo home run off the facing of the third deck in left field. Just like Buxton before him, Garver was also presented with Nelson Cruz’s robe upon returning to the dugout. This was just the second home run for Garver on the season, due in part to missing a month of the season.

The Twins were not done with their threat in the fourth after Garver’s home run. They were able to load the bases with two outs, thanks to a single from Max Kepler, a Ryan Jeffers walk and a pitch that hit Ehire Adrianza. This prompted a pitching change from the Tigers, who brought in Jose Cisnero to face Byron Buxton in an all-important at-bat. Cisnero got the job done for the Tigers, as he struck out Buxton on three pitches, leaving the bases loaded for the Twins.

After getting out of Homer Bailey’s jam in the fourth, he came back out to pitch in the top half of the fifth. After getting two easy outs, Daz Cameron blasted a two-out double off the centerfield wall. Byron Buxton showed great restraint in not flying into the wall to try and make the play, and instead let up as he got to the warning track, to play the ball off the wall. Victor Reyes then drilled a line single to left, and Eddie Rosario came up firing and nailed Cameron at the plate to end the inning.

Trevor May had a rough night for the Twins, as he pitched the sixth inning. May struggled with his fastball command, which lead to him walking three of the five batters that he faced. Of the 27 pitches that May threw, just 12 of them were for strikes. Tyler Duffey came in to try and get out of the jam for the Twins. Duffey was able to induce a weak comebacker to the mound, however, he had a tough time handling it, as it bounced away. Duffey then had to hurry the throw, that was a little low and unable to be scooped up by Miguel Sano at first, allowing the tying run to score. Sano has looked surprisingly sharp in his first season as a first baseman, but he misplayed this one a bit and was ultimately charged with the error.

After getting out of the jam without allowing any more runs to score, Duffey came out to pitch the seventh. Daz Cameron belted a leadoff double into the right centerfield gap, and advanced to third on a Victor Reyes groundout in the next at-bat. Willi Castro then came up with a single that put the Tigers on top for the first time tonight. Duffey was able to get out of the inning, by inducing an inning ending double play off the bat of Miguel Cabrera.

In the eighth inning it was Max Kepler’s turn to provide the instant offense, at he lined a flyball that just cleared the overhang in right for the Twins third solo home run of the night. It is good to see Max Kepler stay hot, after a three-hit night on Sunday in Chicago, as we head into the final week of the season. His bat could be an X Factor in the Postseason for the Twins. Like Buxton and Garver before him, Kepler was also presented with Nelson Cruz’s robe. It will be interesting to see if this is something the Twins carry over for the rest of the season, or if it is just a one-night thing.

After a scoreless ninth, we went to extra innings with the game tied a three. Taylor Rogers came in to pitch the tenth for the Twins, with Victor Reyes beginning the inning on second. Josh Donaldson made an excellent defensive play at third to start the inning, not only taking a hit away from Willi Castro, but also keeping Reyes at third. Miguel Cabrera then advanced him to third with a single to right field, before Jeimer Candelario drove him in with a single through the drawn in infield. After that, Rogers was able to retire the next two batters, and prevent the Tigers from added on any more runs.

Jake Cave pinch ran for Josh Donaldson, who began the bottom of the tenth at second base. Cave immediately came around to score the tying run on a soft liner off the bat of Eddie Rosario into centerfield. Sano then blasted one of the furthest hit balls in Target Field, but unfortunately it landed about 20 feet foul in the Budweiser Roof Deck, before striking out for the first out of the inning. Mitch Garver then followed that up with a strikeout of his own, however, Eddie Rosario was able to advance to second base on a stolen base. This set the table for Max Kepler, who blooped a single over the third baseman’s head in left to bring Rosario around to score the winning run!

That wasn't the only 10th inning walk-off hit that helped the Twins tonight, as over in Cleveland Jose Ramirez put an exclamation point on the Indians win over the White Sox with this three run blast.

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