August 7, 2023

Here comes the rooster: Wallner walks it off, Twins sweep Snakes

Poring over the Twins’ August schedule, I saw nothing but foul weather in the form of teams such as the Texas Rangers and others that just might be too much for a club clinging to a slim lead in the American League Central division.

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

But here we are, a few games into the new month, and instead of terrible weather there have been sunny skies as the Twins took two of three games from the St. Louis Cardinals and swept the Arizona Diamondbacks, including Sunday’s dramatic 5-3 win.

The Snakes outhit the Twins 11 to 6, but Minnesota came up big with two monster extra-base hits in the bottom of the ninth inning to seal the victory. Losing 3-2, Max Kepler hit a first-pitch home run to tie the game, Jorge Polanco earned a free pass to first base, then Matt Wallner walloped a two-run blast to end it.

The Twins also clobbered Arizona 12-1 on Saturday.

They scored all those runs on 17 hits, getting 12 of them from four players: Eddie Julien, Kepler, Wallner and Ryan Jeffers, who led the way with two home runs and drove in four more.

Extra innings …

-The Twins have a four-game winning streak, which matches their longest win streak of the season, and are now 59-54 in the division. They lead the Cleveland Guardians, who grabbed headlines Saturday after Jose Ramirez and Tim Anderson came to blows, by 4.5 games.

-Sunday’s win went to reliever Caleb Thielbar, but it was former Cy Young award winner Dallas Keuchel, who was signed to a minor league contract this season, who got the start.

Keuchel was OK. He allowed a run over five innings on eight hits, but he lived up to his billing as a ground ball pitcher because several of those eight hits were softly hit. The Twins also turned two double plays behind him.

-Kenta Maeda looked good again on Saturday, allowing just a run over six innings with seven strikeouts to improve to 3-6 with a 4.22 ERA. He continues to whittle down an earned run average that was as high as 9.00 after a disastrous outing against the New York Yankees on April 26.

-Sonny Gray also pitched well in the Twins’ recent 5-3 win over the Cardinals. It was Gray’s first win since April 30. He is now 5-4 with a 3.18 ERA. On April 30, Gray went six innings to beat the Kansas City Royals and improved to 4-0.

-Despite the Twins’ blowout win on Saturday, reliever Jovani Moran entered the game in the ninth and walked the bases loaded, but escaped the inning unscathed. Still, Moran’s performance earned him a trip to Triple-A St. Paul. Pitcher Brent Headrick was recalled.

-On Aug. 3, 1969, the Twins’ Rich Reese ended Baltimore Orioles pitcher Dave McNally’s 17-game winning streak with a pinch-hit grand slam.

The Baltimore Sun lede:

“Minnesota’s Rich Reese, rated unqualified to start the game, destroyed Dave McNally’s bid for several American League pitching records today with a pinch-hit grand slam homer in the seventh inning of a 5-to-2 Oriole defeat.”

The Minneapolis Tribune lede:

“Dave McNally’s bid for three lines in baseball’s record book was erased Sunday afternoon on one pitch to Rich Reese.”

Advantage: Minneapolis Tribune.

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.