The prospect of being swept at home by a last-place ballclub motivated the Twins enough to dodge that fate. Still, their series finale was no cruise.
The Washington Nationals were 9-25 a month ago, and yet, for several agonizing moments Sunday, the Twins faced the prospect of getting swept by this woebegone squad.
No team coming off a 96-victory season can justify a weekend like that, especially at home, especially when its next nine games are against the Braves, Brewers and Mets.
So after the umpires overturned a two-run Washington homer, after his top relievers bailed out Boof Bonser, after his team singled and doubled its way to a 6-3 victory, manager Ron Gardenhire didn't sugarcoat his assessment.
"A grind-em-out win, which we needed desperately," he said.
Now 30-31, the Twins could have used a sweep themselves to start gaining traction on Cleveland and Detroit, but they lost the first two games to a pair of their former farmhands, Jason Simontacchi and Levale Speigner.
Would Mike Bacsik be added to the list on How Do You Like Me Now Weekend? He is, after all, the son of a pitcher by the same name who made 41 relief appearances for the Twins between 1979 and 1980.
It might have happened, but before Bacsik threw his first pitch, the Nationals had two runs wiped off the scoreboard.
With two outs and one runner aboard in the first inning, Dmitri Young hit a towering blast several rows deep into the right field upper deck. Young barely moved, thinking it was foul, but first base umpire Ron Kulpa signaled home run.
Bonser and catcher Mike Redmond started fuming, and Gardenhire came running from the dugout to argue.
The umpires gathered and reversed Kulpa's decision: foul ball.
Crew chief Dale Scott said three of the four umpires saw the ball go foul.
"The key on that is just getting the play right," Scott said.
Of the time it took the umpires to decide, Bonser said: "It was a long minute and a half. It seemed like forever."
But to Gardenhire, time seemed to stand still watching Bonser, who gave up nine hits and two walks while throwing 95 pitches in five innings.
The Twins used run-scoring singles from Jason Bartlett and Torii Hunter to take a 3-0 lead in the first inning. But the Nationals climbed back to make it 4-3 in the fifth.
"Boof was really ugly," Gardenhire said. "I don't know how to describe it. As somebody said in the dugout, it was like watching paint dry. Too much time on the field. Too many guys on base. But he got through it somehow."
Gardenhire turned to Matt Guerrier with that one-run lead in the sixth. Guerrier got five outs, Pat Neshek got four and Joe Nathan got the final three for his 14th save.
By the end, the Twins had 15 hits -- 13 singles and two doubles -- and Bonser (5-2) had his fifth victory in six starts.
|NY Yankees - LP: M. Pineda||0||FINAL|
|Toronto - WP: D. Hutchison||2|
|Detroit - LP: M. Scherzer||3||FINAL|
|Chicago WSox - WP: C. Sale||6|
|Chicago Cubs - WP: F. Doubront||5||FINAL|
|St. Louis - LP: J. Masterson||1|
|Cincinnati||2||Bottom 7th Inning|
|Minnesota - K. Gibson||6:05 PM|
|Baltimore - C. Tillman|
|Philadelphia - J. Williams||6:10 PM|
|NY Mets - B. Colon|
|Miami - J. Cosart||6:10 PM|
|Atlanta - A. Harang|
|Boston - A. Webster||6:10 PM|
|Tampa Bay - J. Odorizzi|
|Cleveland - T. Bauer||6:10 PM|
|Kansas City - J. Shields|
|Detroit - K. Ryan||6:10 PM|
|Chicago WSox - C. Bassitt|
|Texas - R. Ross Jr.||6:10 PM|
|Houston - S. Feldman|
|Colorado - T. Matzek||7:10 PM|
|Arizona - V. Nuno|
|Chicago Cubs - T. Wada||7:15 PM|
|St. Louis - M. Gonzales|
|Los Angeles - Z. Greinke||7:40 PM|
|San Diego - I. Kennedy|
|Milwaukee - M. Fiers||8:05 PM|
|San Francisco - J. Peavy|
|Oakland - J. Samardzija||8:05 PM|
|LA Angels - C. Rasmus|
|Washington - S. Strasburg||8:10 PM|
|Seattle - R. Elias|
|Green Bay||9/4/14 7:30 PM|
|(6) Jacksonville St||7||FINAL|
|(8) Michigan State||45|
|(5) Ohio State||34||FINAL|
|West Virginia||20||3rd Qtr 3:41|
|Rice||10||4th Qtr 14:16|
|(17) Notre Dame||38|
|(10) South Dakota St||18||4th Qtr 13:54|
|Fla Atlantic||7||3rd Qtr 6:18|
|Marshall||28||3rd Qtr 4:34|
|UC Davis||0||3rd Qtr 8:05|
|Arkansas||21||3rd Qtr 9:04|
|(16) Clemson||7||1st Qtr 4:24|
|Liberty||0||1st Qtr 11:25|
|(23) North Carolina||7|
|Ohio U||0||1st Qtr 11:45|
|Louisiana Tech||6:00 PM|
|Stephen F Austin||6:10 PM|
|(20) Kansas State|
|Fresno State||6:30 PM|
|Southern Miss||6:30 PM|
|Texas-El Paso||7:00 PM|
|North Texas||7:00 PM|
|(1) Florida State||7:00 PM|
|(14) Wisconsin||8:00 PM|
|South Dakota||9:30 PM|
|(25) Washington||9:30 PM|
|Utah State||8/31/14 6:00 PM|
|SMU||8/31/14 6:30 PM|
|Miami-Florida||9/1/14 7:00 PM|
|Arizona||9/4/14 7:00 PM|
|Pittsburgh||9/5/14 6:00 PM|
|Washington St||9/5/14 9:30 PM|
|SMU||9/6/14 11:00 AM|
|Fla Atlantic||9/6/14 11:00 AM|
|Buffalo||9/6/14 11:00 AM|
|(24) Missouri||9/6/14 11:00 AM|
|Arkansas State||9/6/14 11:00 AM|
|(8) McNeese State||9/6/14 11:00 AM|
|Central Mich||9/6/14 11:00 AM|
|Akron||9/6/14 11:00 AM|
|Western Ill||9/6/14 11:00 AM|
|(20) Kansas State||9/6/14 11:00 AM|
|(4) Oklahoma||9/6/14 11:00 AM|
|Western Ky||9/6/14 11:00 AM|
|SC State||9/6/14 11:30 AM|
|Navy||9/6/14 12:00 PM|
|UAB||9/6/14 1:00 PM|
|South Alabama||9/6/14 1:00 PM|
|New Mexico St||9/6/14 1:00 PM|
|Colorado||9/6/14 2:00 PM|
|Fresno State||9/6/14 2:00 PM|
|(1) Eastern Wash||9/6/14 2:00 PM|
|(15) USC||9/6/14 2:30 PM|
|Ohio U||9/6/14 2:30 PM|
|Middle Tennessee||9/6/14 2:30 PM|
|Northern Ill||9/6/14 2:30 PM|
|Missouri State||9/6/14 2:30 PM|
|Ball State||9/6/14 2:30 PM|
|Maryland||9/6/14 2:30 PM|
|Eastern Mich||9/6/14 3:00 PM|
|Georgia Tech||9/6/14 3:00 PM|
|(18) Ole Miss||9/6/14 3:30 PM|
|Old Dominion||9/6/14 5:00 PM|
|(8) Michigan State||9/6/14 5:30 PM|
|(19) Arizona State||9/6/14 6:00 PM|
|Louisiana Tech||9/6/14 6:00 PM|
|San Jose St||9/6/14 6:00 PM|
|East Carolina||9/6/14 6:00 PM|
|(9) So Carolina|
|Duke||9/6/14 6:00 PM|
|Idaho||9/6/14 6:00 PM|
|(17) Sam Houston St||9/6/14 6:30 PM|
|Michigan||9/6/14 6:30 PM|
|(17) Notre Dame|
|Lamar||9/6/14 6:30 PM|
|(21) Texas A&M|
|Northwestern St||9/6/14 6:30 PM|
|BYU||9/6/14 6:30 PM|
|Citadel||9/6/14 6:30 PM|
|(1) Florida State|
|San Diego St||9/6/14 7:00 PM|
|(23) North Carolina|
|Virginia Tech||9/6/14 7:00 PM|
|(5) Ohio State|
|Memphis||9/6/14 9:00 PM|
|Colorado State||9/6/14 9:15 PM|
|Air Force||9/6/14 9:15 PM|
|Oregon State||9/6/14 9:30 PM|
|Texas Tech||9/6/14 10:00 PM|
|New England||2||2nd Half 44:55|
|FC Dallas||7:30 PM|
|Real Salt Lake||9:30 PM|
|Winnipeg||8/31/14 3:00 PM|
|Toronto||9/1/14 12:00 PM|
|Edmonton||9/1/14 3:30 PM|
|Brt Columbia||9/5/14 6:30 PM|
|Calgary||9/6/14 6:00 PM|
|Hamilton||9/7/14 12:00 PM|
|Saskatchewan||9/7/14 3:00 PM|
Poll: How sure are you that the Twins are on the road to improving?