After the Twins won only two of six games during their last home stand, they responded with a doubleheader sweep of the Cleveland Indians on Saturday. Where were they? On the road, of course, where they have played well all season.
In Game 1, Jorge Polanco hit a two-run home run and five pitchers made it stand with a five-hit, 2-0 win over the Tribe. In Game 2, the Twins did Twins like things by slugging their way to a 9-5 victory. Eddie Rosario started things off with a two-run blast, his 29th, then the Twins fell behind 5-2.
But the ageless Nelson Cruz hit a two-run shot to cut it to 5-4, followed by Polanco with an RBI to tie the game at 5-5. Then the Big Bopper, Miguel Sano, hit a grand slam and the Twins never looked back. The significance of the moment wasn’t lost on Twins manager Rocco Baldelli.
“It’s a tremendous swing in a very challenging, dramatic moment,” Baldelli told MLB.com. “Something big was needed. These are really emotional, big games. These games are fun; they’re a different brand of baseball this time of year, and that’s just a huge play and a huge swing. It kind of put us in position to win the game, flat out.”
The two wins over Cleveland means the Twins’ lead in the American League Central is back to 5.5 games. They face each other for the last time during the regular season on Sunday. Randy Dobnak gets the ball. A three-game sweep sure would be sweet.
-The Twins are 91-57, including a road record of 50-24. Why do they play so well away from Target Field? Who knows?
-The Twins are 9-9 against Cleveland this season and could make it 10-9 with a win on Sunday.
-The bullpen was sensational in both games. Zack Littell improved to 5-0 and ace lefty Taylor Rogers got the five-out save with four strikeouts in Game 1, then Cody Stashak, Brusdar Graterol and Trevor May pitched scoreless baseball after Lewis Thorpe’s rough start in Game 2. The win went to young flame-thrower, Graterol, who struck out three in two innings.
-Cruz’s home run was his team-leading 37th. He is now three home runs away from hitting 400 for his career.
-Thorpe allowed two home runs in his Game 2 start, but he also struck out six in three-plus innings. Devin Smeltzer got the nod in Game 1 and pitched three scoreless innings.
-Polanco had a good doubleheader. He went 4-for-9 with a home run and double.
-I predicted the Twins would finish this key 12-game stretch, which started with the Boston Red Sox, with a record of 7-5. They are 6-5 going into Sunday’s game.