Last weekend, Bobby Wilson was struggling to make it around the bases in 96-degree heat in Chicago. The veteran Twins catcher left a June 30 game against the Cubs because of heat-related illness and needed an IV to help him recover.
Wilson also rolled into Saturday in a 1-for-34 slide that pulled his batting average down to .114.
“I can’t deny it,” he said. “I can’t say everything has been unicorns and rainbows, but it’s been a struggle.”
For one game, it wasn’t. Wilson came through with two hits — his first multihit game since 2016 — and drove in three runs as the Twins came back from three runs down to beat Baltimore 5-4 at Target Field, their third consecutive victory over the worst team in the major leagues.
It just might have been his day. Logan Morrison alerted him to a fan in the stands holding a picture of Wilson the volleyball from the Tom Hanks movie “Cast Away.”
“LoMo pointed it out to me right before my third at-bat,” Wilson said. “I was kind of trying to peek up there to see it, but somebody showed it to me, and it was kind of cool.”
When that happens, it figured Wilson — the 35-year-old recalled from Class AAA Rochester in May when Jason Castro was lost for the season because of a knee injury — had to come through. Wilson’s first hit Saturday helped tie the score, and his second gave the Twins the lead.
Max Kepler led off the bottom of the fifth inning with a homer to center, and singles by Robbie Grossman and Jake Cave put runners on the corners for Wilson. Orioles righthander Kevin Gausman threw a full-count fastball, and Wilson was able to poke it through the right side of the infield for an RBI single that made it 3-2. Cave scored on a wild pitch to tie the score.
“I think I’ve hit my last 10 balls off the label at second base,” said Wilson, whose single ended a run of 20 consecutive hitless at-bats. “To get one through there finally felt nice. To get the barrel on the ball was big for me, in that kind of situation.”
The Twins kept pushing, loading the bases with no outs in the sixth inning against Baltimore reliever Miguel Castro. Both Grossman and Cave grounded into force plays at home, and Wilson was their last chance.
Wilson got ahead in the count 3-1, then got a fastball over the middle of the plate. Wilson slapped a double down the left field line. Two runs scored — Cave was thrown out at the plate to end the inning — to give the Twins a 5-3 lead.
“You just know he’s going to battle ’til the end there,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “It’s not always pretty, but he pulled through today. I’m not sure what his numbers are; they’re not particularly good coming into today, but he got a couple of hits today and had a nice day.”
Wilson’s work with the pitching staff has never been questioned, and he helped guide Gibson through seven innings in all after the righthander gave up three runs in the first, two on a two-out home run by Chris Davis on a changeup that was up some and away from the plate.
Wilson and Gibson decided to stick with the original game plan and try to execute better. The result was Gibson (3-6) pitching at least seven innings for the fourth time in the past month.
“One thing Bobby does really well is, no matter what he’s hitting or how he’s doing at the plate, he does a great job behind the dish,” Gibson said. “He did a great job calling a lot of good pitches and the right offspeed at the right time. He always puts together pretty good at-bats for the most part, and that was a couple of really big hits today.
“That double there at the end, almost scoring three, it’s exactly what our team needed. A timely hit to give us the lead and give the bullpen a chance to be able to lock it down.”