Big lead nearly vanishes for Twins, then becomes bigger lead

  • Article by: PHIL MILLER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 23, 2014 - 9:27 AM

It’s not often that a 20-6 victory can be said to have been decided by one play, but the Twins might have managed it Friday night. After taking a 6-1 lead, they were ahead by only a single run in the sixth inning, and Detroit had all the momentum.

An intentional walk to Miguel Cabrera put runners on first and third with one out, when Brian Dozier made what might have been a game-saving play. Ryan Pressly forced Detroit slugger Victor Martinez to hit a grounder toward right field and Dozier ranged far to his left to reach it, then somehow pivoted toward second base, starting a double play that preserved the 6-5 lead.

“I thought with Miguel and [Martinez] running, we had a chance,” shortstop Eduardo Escobar said. “It was a big double play.”

And everything Escobar and his teammates did afterward was big and bigger. Buoyed by their escape, the Twins embarked on their biggest inning of the season, a nine-run epic sixth inning on only four hits. They added five more runs over the next three innings, one of them on one of the longest home runs in Target Field history by Oswaldo Arcia.

It was the eighth time in franchise history, and first time ever in Target Field, that the Twins had scored 20 runs.

It was also the first time that an American League team had scored 20 runs in a game this season.

Escobar was the catalyst, collecting a career-high five hits, including his fourth home run of the season and a triple to spark the big inning — one that he wanted to stretch into an inside-the-park home run. “Scott [Ullger, the third-base coach] said to stop because there were no outs,” Escobar said. “I thought I could make it.”

Instead, he finished a double short of the Twins’ first cycle in five years. “He has 32 doubles this year,” laughed manager Ron Gardenhire, “but couldn’t get one tonight.”

Danny Santana and Trevor Plouffe also homered, but the shot to remember was a 432-foot blast by Arcia that ricocheted off a flagpole on the right-field plaza, similar to (but more impressive than) one he hit earlier in the week.

But the big victory came with a disappointment, too. Starter Tommy Milone suffered his second straight subpar outing in his new home ballpark, and while it wasn’t as bad as his seven-run, four-out debut Sunday, this wasn’t what the Twins had expected from the former 13-game winner, either.

Milone allowed the first batter of the game, Detroit’s Ian Kinsler, to hammer a pitch into the left-field bleachers. The Twins struck for six runs in the second inning, however, and Milone’s path to victory seemed clear.

Not so. The lefthander gave up four runs in the fifth inning, and he was lifted after recording only one out. It wasn’t all his fault — Escobar committed an error that sparked the rally. But five Tigers followed with hits as Detroit closed within one run.

A nine-run sixth inning took care of that, though — and so did a Dozier-turned double play.

Ryan to Rochester

Next week, Twins General Manager Terry Ryan will head to Rochester, N.Y., to watch the Class AAA team, meet with its staff, and determine, among other things, who is deserving of a September call-up. A lot of factors go into those choices, Ryan said, including roster status, the type of season each player has had, and whether playing time would be available in the major leagues.

“I’ll come back and tell Gardy exactly what they’re recommending, and what I see, and [we’ll discuss] what he needs,” Ryan said. This year, the Twins already have a handful of young players in their lineup, so the Twins will consider “how much we need to see the guys we have.”

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