SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO – It’s amazing how a 16-inning game can alter perspective. The day began with concern that the Twins and Indians would not be able to play.
More than four hours later, the concern was if they would ever get to stop.
But Ryan LaMarre’s single through a drawn-in infield scored Eddie Rosario to give the Twins a 2-1 victory in 16 innings and a split of the two-game Puerto Rican Series.
A pitcher’s duel became an offensive eyesore as the teams combined to go 0-for-20 with runners in scoring position before LaMarre came through. The leadoff man reached base eight times, five times for Cleveland, but no one scored until LaMarre’s RBI single.
LaMarre replaced Max Kepler, who left after the ninth because of a sore right knee. He ended up with three of the Twins’ 13 hits.
During one stretch the Indians retired 19 of 20 Twins until Joe Mauer’s double in the 11th. Cleveland had seven runners on base between the eighth and 12th innings but drove none of them in.
When Edwin Encarnacion hammered a Trevor Hildenberger pitch into the left field foul pole in the 14th, it looked like the game was over.
The Indians turned to Matt Belisle to close out the game. The former Twin was coming off an outing Friday against Toronto in which he gave up three runs. Miguel Sano swatted his first pitch into the seats in left, the remaining crowd letting out a roar when the ball landed.
Rosario led off the 16th with a single. Logan Morrison, batting .068 as a Twin, hit a grounder that was misplayed by Jason Kipnis for an error. Rosario went to third.
Eduardo Escobar was walked intentionally so there could be a force play at every base, but LaMarre, who was 3-for-4 and is batting .583, hit a 1-2 pitch up the middle to end the 5-hour, 13-minute marathon in front of a sold-out crowd of 19,537.
The teams were assured the game was going to be played despite an island-wide power outage Wednesday that was the latest challenge for Puerto Ricans several months after Hurricane Maria brought her havoc to their homes.
“For the people that have had to endure a lot of heartbreak,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said, “it’s just another day where they are having to try to find a get through another difficult situation.”
Hiram Bithorn Stadium nevertheless was packed, and fans roared when Bayamon native Jose Berrios took the mound.
It was not the only time they cheered Berrios on Wednesday, as the strikeouts and the scoreless innings accumulated. But Cleveland righthander Carlos Carrasco matched him in putting up zeros before the pitcher’s duel was handed over to the bullpens in the eighth inning.
Berrios had thrown only 84 pitches when he was lifted for righthander Addison Reed. In 27⅔ innings this season, Berrios has one walk and 29 strikeouts.
“This was an important night for me, and for the people of Puerto Rico,” said Berrios, who stayed to watch the rest of the game from the dugout.
The only two people on the island who could have been booed Wednesday were Molitor and the head of the power company. And some boos came out of the stands as Reed was announced. But he stranded Bradley Zimmer at second to get out of the inning.
And Molitor acknowledged that as Berrios entered the interview room after the game.
“Come on in, Jose,” Molitor said with a smile. “He’s probably still mad at me for taking him out.”