July 16, 2018

Twins walk-off in style to end season’s first half

Sunday’s Twins-Rays game had a little bit of everything. It had a balk, four intentional base on balls, two batters hit by pitches and a player ejection. It also had 15 pitchers, 24 hits, 18 runs and one big home run delivered by the Twins’ Brian Dozier. With the bases loaded in the bottom of the 10th inning, Dozier hit a walk-off grand-slam home run to win it for the Twins, 11-7.

After struggling for much of the first half of the season, the Twins finished an 11-game home stand at 9-2. They remain within striking distance of the Cleveland Indians (7.5 games) and seem to have found a new sense of purpose. Let’s hope this is just the beginning of improved play down the stretch.

The Twins are 44-50 to end the second half, while the Indians are 52-43.

Extra innings…

-The Rays were up to their trickery again on Sunday. They used nine pitchers, all of them relievers. Closer Fernando Rodney also made an early appearance, but apparently not for any strategic reasons: Rodney had a flight to catch to Miami for an immigration hearing Monday morning, according to MLB.com.

-The Twins and Rays had two benches-clearing gatherings during the game (they weren’t quite brawls), and the Twins’ Eduardo Escobar appeared to be at the center of both of them. He was eventually ejected, but why?

Here’s what MLB.com had to say:

With Eduardo Escobar at the plate with two outs in the seventh after Brian Dozier scored the go-ahead run on a balk by rookie reliever Diego Castillo, the Twins’ bench took issue to a 101-mph pitch from Castillo that got too close to Escobar. The Rays claimed Twins reliever Ryan Pressly yelled from the bench at Castillo to stop throwing at Escobar, which caused Escobar to step out of the box. Third baseman Daniel Robertsonthen yelled at Escobar to get back in the box, and it escalated from there.

For my money, I wish Escobar had gone after the Rays’ Carlos Gomez after he showed up Twins’ utility player, Willians Astudillo, on Saturday by hitting a home run off him, then laughing as he rounded the bases.

-The good news in all of this is that the Twins played with grit and determination. They fell behind early in Sunday’s four-and-a-half hour game, then pulled ahead, then fell behind, then the Rays tied the game at 7-7 in the 9th. But up came Dozier in the 10th.

-And there’s more good news: The Twins have hung around all season without starter Ervin Santana, Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton. If all three return to their 2017 form, the Twins have got this thing sewn up.


Hi, I’m Rolf Boone, Twins fan.

I became a fan of the Minnesota Twins after a friendly wager in the early 1980s. I survived Ron Davis, the meltdown in Cleveland, Phil Bradley at the Kingdome and then marveled at a rising generation of stars and two World Series wins in 1987 and 1991. Brad Radke made the 1990s bearable, while Kirby Puckett’s eye injury, exit from the game and eventual death made it almost too much to bear. The new century ushered in more talent — Joe Mauer, Johan Santana, Joe Nathan, Torii Hunter, Justin Morneau — and consecutive seasons of playoff baseball, followed by consecutive seasons of losing baseball. A winning season returned in 2015. So here we are. Go Twins.