Obviously the Twins felt things were going a little too easy for them Tuesday night at Target Field. So they increased the degree of difficulty.
First they gave back a 5-0 lead. Then they created a two-on, no-out jam in the ninth. Then they created a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the 10th. Don’t forget, that comes with all the accompanying mound trips, pinch hitters and calls to the bullpen.
Then they let the White Sox take a one-run lead in the 11th. Then a two-run lead in the 12th.
OK, 12 was enough.
After Ryan Cordell blasted a two-run homer off Ryne Harper in the 12th to give Chicago a 8-6 lead, the Twins scored three times in the bottom of the inning to win it 9-8, with the winning run scoring when Ronald Torreyes was hit by a Jose Ruiz pitch with the bases loaded.
The Twins, who maintained their five-game lead over Cleveland in the AL Central Division, are a season-high 35 games over .500 and have lowered their magic number for clinching to seven. On Tuesday, they did it the hard way — but they have not been scared of hard all season.
“I think every guy in that clubhouse has proven it to the next guy what we are and what we have done,” Twins manger Rocco Baldelli said. “We have had games kind of like this. We went through a long stretch of time where we played a bunch of games like this. At no point did our team roll over, ever. So we wouldn’t expect to do that now in any way. I think we are playing some of our best baseball of the year right now.”
Chicago’s Tim Anderson homered off Zack Littell in the 11th for a 6-5 White Sox lead. The Twins answered, getting a sacrifice fly from Mitch Garver to score LaMonte Wade Jr. with the tying run.
LaMonte Wade Jr.? What’s he even doing here? But the rookie, who has played in just 16 games, found a way to stand out Tuesday when he pinch ran for Jonathan Schoop, went to second on a ground ball, then made daring dash for third when Alex Colome threw a wild pitch that bounced just a few feet from home plate.
“Reading the pitch out of the hand, I saw it down and luckily it kicked off a little bit for me,” Wade said. “I was able to get [third].”
After Cordell’s homer, the Twins didn’t flinch. Nelson Cruz singled and Eddie Rosario doubled off Ruiz to begin the inning. Two batters later, Marwin Gonzalez’s two-run single tied the score. Luis Arraez and Wade singled to load the bases.
Then Ruiz’s 1-1 pitch nicked Torreyes. The first walk-off HBP since Aug. 21, 2017, against the White Sox.
The Twins took a 5-0 lead only to find runs hard to come by in the later innings. All five of those runs were scored in the third, the last three coming on a titanic blast from Miguel Sano that traveled 482 feet and into the third deck in left field. It was Sano’s 30th home run of the season, giving the Twins five players with at least 30 homers — the first time that’s ever happened in the majors.
But instead of dissecting how the Twins made history Tuesday, there was an extra-inning thriller to digest.
“Yeah. I said to all the guys, ‘Hey, let’s go up there and take good at-bats,’” Rosario said. “Everything happened that way. Nelson had a very good at-bat, I hit a double. After my double, I think the team got back in it and felt comfortable to win this game.”