July 24, 2023

Here comes the rooster: Twins earn sweep with walk-off win in 12th

For eight-plus innings, fans witnessed an all too familiar Twins team, one that struggled to hit with runners in scoring position and left too many men on base.

The Hahn/Cock sculpture, Walker Art Center, downtown Minneapolis.

But in the bottom of the ninth, the Twins finally found some offense, scoring three runs to tie the game at 3-3 and force extra innings. They added a run in the 10th, survived an embarrassing Joey Gallo bunt attempt in the 11th and finally Ryan Jeffers singled home the winning run to walk-off the Chicago White Sox 5-4 and sweep the three-game series.

All is going to plan for the Twins and their weaker July schedule. They are now 8-2 since the All-Star break, 12-6 overall for the month and now five games over .500 at 53-48. The most games they have been over .500 this season is six, according to Baseball-Reference.com.

Up next, they face Seattle at home and hit the road to play the Royals to wrap up the month. Both series are very winnable and should extend their lead in the AL Central. They currently lead the Guardians by three games.

Extra innings …

-The Gallo bunt attempt in the bottom of the 11th was a disaster. Instead of laying down the drag bunt to score the runner from third, he hit a short line drive to the first baseman who barely had to move. Fortunately, Jeffers came through with the walk-off hit in the 12th.

-Byron Buxton had a much better series overall because of the two home runs he hit in Friday’s 9-4 win. But I must admit he felt like a liability in the lineup on Sunday as those around him, such as Max Kepler, Matt Wallner and Jeffers, came up with key hits while he did not. Buck went 1-for-5 with a walk and two strikeouts.

-Despite the win, the Twins were 5-for-22 with runners in scoring position and left 16 men on base. They also struck out 15 times as a team. Eddie Julien, Donovan Solano and Michael A. Taylor had 10 of those 15 whiffs.

-Starter Bailey Ober made another quality start, but didn’t figure in the decision. The win went to reliever Emilio Pagan, who suddenly is 5-1 with a 3.32 ERA.

-On July 24, 1992, in the first game of a doubleheader, Twins pitcher Scott Erickson blanked the Boston Red Sox on one hit to win 5-0. Who got the hit? Ex-Twin Tom Brunansky. Erickson allowed one hit over nine innings with two walks and three strikeouts to improve to 7-7 with a 3.61 ERA.

“That first game was frustrating,” Brunansky told the Boston Globe. “We weren’t even close to Erickson. He threw a good game. The hit I got off him was on a slider that didn’t break. It jammed me and broke my bat.”

Erickson beat Roger Clemens that day, the Twins backing him with three hits from Chuck Knoblauch, including a triple, and a double and home run from Randy Bush.

After winning 20 games in 1991, Erickson fell to 13-12 in 1992 and then lost 19 games in 1993, serving up 266 hits, the most in the majors that season.

-And then there was this …

Sources: MLB.com, Baseball-Reference.com, Newspapers.com

COMMENTS

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.