After Wednesday’s game, Eddie Rosario came strolling into view of the media on Zoom oozing confidence. Rosario walked into the frame with a big smile on his face, draped in his new ‘Homer Robe’ and holding up a gift from Josh Donaldson.
Things are looking up for the Twins right now.
They are back in first place in the AL Central after the Cleveland Indians swept the Chicago White Sox to give the Twins a full one game advantage as the playoffs near. They have found a positive stride as the regular season comes to a close.
Minnesota is riding a four-game winning streak after two close wins over the Tigers. Though the Twins got the results they wanted, Tuesday’s game finished in extra innings, and Wednesday’s game came down to one run late. A combination of players peaking at the right time and more consistent pitching has the Twins in a fortunate position.
Starters and Relievers Getting Locked In
The two-game series began with Homer Bailey on the mound. He had missed most of the season on the IL and Tuesday was only his second regular season appearance.
He pitched into the fourth inning before getting into a jam. He left the game having allowed two hits and one run, striking out three batters on 53 pitches. With the team having two off days in the same week, the relievers were able to get some work in due to the extra guaranteed rest.
Cody Stashak came in, bailed him out and stayed for two innings of two-hit ball. He had a strikeout on 18 pitches in his outing. The rest of the Twins’ relievers gave up no more than one run individually. Though Taylor Rogers entered in the 10th inning and gave up the tie for a one-run Tigers lead, he recorded the win as Minnesota walked off Detroit in the bottom of the inning.
Wednesday Kenta Maeda’s last regular season start for the Twins and was mostly stellar in his six innings. He gave up four hits and struck out nine in his 94 pitches. The damage against him came on some hits allowed in his final inning leading to a three-run home run from Miguel Cabrera. Thankfully for Maeda, though, the Twins had given him six runs of support.
Top Hitters Find Their Stride
A few weeks ago, if Nelson Cruz was absent from the lineup, the Twins would have had significant trouble plating runs. Now that he actually was out of the lineup for a few games, the rest of the Twins’ batting order stepped up, and they did it with Cruz watching from the dugout.
After Rogers allowed a run in the top of the 10th, Minnesota was down 4-3 with three outs and a runner on second. Jake Cave was placed on second, and it didn’t take long for him to score. Rosario knocked a single as the first batter of the inning to tie the game once again.
Max Kepler came to the plate after two strikeouts and a Rosario stolen base. He hit a slow bloop single to left field to score Rosario and win the game. It was his second consecutive game with three hits.
Though Kepler didn’t have a great offensive game in the finale, each of the other extra-inning saviors from the previous night did. Cave played left field while Rosario was the designated hitter. Cave proceeded to knock in three runs with two homers, and Rosario hit a two-run home run.
Byron Buxton remained hot. He saved innings on some outfield catches but also continued to produce offensively. He now has eight RBIs in his last seven games. In the last 14 days alone, Buxton is slugging .944 with an OPS of 1.296.
Last Series for the Division
Minnesota has the lead in the division — for now. Though they hold the spot currently, the White Sox are within a game and a big series against a surging Cincinnati team looms this weekend. The Twins will likely to face Trevor Bauer, but the Reds have a solid pitching staff and are looking to claw their way into the playoffs as well.
Jose Berrios makes his final start of the regular season on Friday.