A key hit, another great defensive play and nine innings of solid pitching carried the Twins to a 2-0 win and sweep of the Toronto Blue Jays in the American League Wild Card Series on Wednesday.
The win also marked another important milestone for the Twins as they won a postseason series for the first time since 2002. In two games, the Twins were able to kill off two long postseason losing streaks.
Sonny Gray gave the Twins five innings, and the bullpen was sensational, but the play of Carlos Correa was the difference as he delivered a key RBI hit to give the Twins their first run, then teamed with Gray for the play of the game.
In the top of the fifth inning, Gray found himself in a jam with two men on and two outs in the inning. But suddenly the pickoff move at second base was on and Gray whirled and threw to Correa to get the third out and get the Twins out of the inning, halting a potential Blue Jays rally.
Gray didn’t allow a run and neither did the bullpen, including closer Jhoan Duran, who struck out the side in the ninth to preserve the win and start the celebration.
As for the Blue Jays, their manager is likely going to face some questions and criticism for lifting Jose Berrios in the fourth inning after he was cruising along with a shutout. Berrios issued a walk in that inning and was gone, lifted in favor of Yusei Kikuchi who proceeded to walk a batter and surrender the hit to Correa.
The Twins now get ready to hit the road to face the Houston Astros on Saturday, the same team that eliminated the Twins in the 2020 postseason.
The good news for the Twins is they were 4-2 against Houston this season, outscoring them 29-25. The four wins: 3-2, 9-6, 7-5 and 8-2. In other words, the Twins have shown they can beat this team.
Extra innings …
-On Oct. 6, 2009, the Twins outlasted the Detroit Tigers in 12 innings to win Game 163 and secure the AL Central division title before a full house of screaming fans at the Metrodome. This was an all-timer, a game that I believe was voted the best of the decade by Sports Illustrated.
The Star Tribune lede, under a headline that reads, “Flying High.”
“The dome would not go quietly. Our belittled bastion of baseball butterflies has never done anything quietly or conventionally.”
The Detroit Free Press lede, under the headline, “Bummer.”
“One hundred sixty-two games were not enough. Nine extra innings were not enough. But in the 12th inning of the last regular-season game of the last season at the Metrodome, the Twins finally snatched the American League division title away from the Tigers.”
Advantage: Free Press. I do not understand the use of “butterflies.”
Sources: MLB.com, Baseball-Reference.com, Newspapers.com