It was “A Balk to Remember.” Or maybe Eddie Rosario was “Balking in the Sun.” Maybe the Minnesota Twins are “Balking on the Playoffs’ Door.” Twitter had fun with this one, let’s just say, and so did the Twins, who capitalized on Oliver Drake’s balk to win a sloppy game against the Milwaukee Brewers, 5-4.
Things came unwound for the Twins in the third inning when Keon Broxton homered off of Ervin Santana, who then hit Domingo Santana with a pitch. Jorge Polanco booted a routine grounder immediately after, allowing Ryan Braun to reach, and Travis Shawk singled to put the Brewers up 3-0.
“We kinda shot ourselves in the foot there early when some of the miscues, which I feel we’ve been able to avoid for the most part, but they piled up, and they took advantage,” said Twins manager Paul Molitor.
“Instead of getting of the field, they put a three-spot up there.”
Jason Castro singled and Jorge Polanco doubled to lead off the bottom of the third, however, and Joe Mauer had an RBI groundout to put the Twins on the board. But Broxton had an RBI double in the next inning to keep the Twins deficit at three.
Minnesota fought back again, however, with Byron Buxton’s single starting a two-out rally. Ehire Adrianza singled, Jason Castro walked and Jorge Polanco’s two-RBI double set up Rosario for the dramatic, an unexpected, finish.
“It was just one of those games where we had to stick with it,” said Molitor. “You don’t win a game on a balk call very often.”
Brewers manager Craig Counsell put the shift on in that fateful fifth inning, which began with an Eduardo Escobar walk, Rosario’s double and Byron Buxton’s sacrifice bunt.
Jason Castro was up to bat and would eventually walk, Rosario was dancing at third with no third baseman in site and Drake, the Milwaukee reliever, bit.
“They gave him a lot of room with the shift formation, and he was able to give them a little false start there. And then we got a little bit of a buckle,” said Molitor. “It was kind of an exiting way to add that fifth run on.”
Lost in the shuffle of a crazy, mishap-ridden night was Buxton’s non-catch, which he quickly recovered from, hit Dozier, the cutoff man, and gunned down Braun in the first inning.
“It might get buried, as far as plays that we watch over and over, but it was on the verge of being an all-timer for me,” said Molitor.
Also, Matt Belisle tacked on another save — this time after giving up a single to pinch-hitter Manny Pina, who reached on a fielding error by Buxton. And Polanco went 4-for-4, recording as many hits in one night as he did in all of July.
“He’s gotten a little bit of that … just the physical appearance of looking like he belongs again,” said Molitor, “where for a while, you could tell that he was just searching for an identity up here as a major league player.”
It was a sloppy game in general. One that was decided, appropriately, with a balk to remember.