ARLINGTON, TEXAS – The Twins were down six runs Friday then, suddenly, a switch was flipped.
The first five batters of the fifth inning reached base, the first of 11 plate appearances by the Twins in that inning. During that stretch, they tied a season high with eight runs, and rolled to a 10-7 victory over Texas in the opener of a three-game series. It marked the seventh time the Twins have scored at least 10 runs in a game this season.
And the offensive outburst enabled the Twins to finish August with authority. In a month during which they dealt with the fallout of a trading spree before the July 31 deadline — then saw Fernando Rodney and Bobby Wilson dealt — the Twins went 14-14. They tied for the most victories of any month this season, and their 38 home runs were the most of any month. Tyler Austin, who hit one of the two homers on Friday, has belted seven in 16 games with the Twins. Jake Cave hit the other.
“I really didn’t know what the number was as we wind August up,” manager Paul Molitor said. “We got some power. Those guys throughout can hit it over the fence. Austin has done a nice job coming in. Cave has only gotten better as the season has gone along.
“We’ve gotten contributions as the season has gone along.”
The Twins have scored eight runs in an inning two other times this season: April 11 against Houston and July 8 against Baltimore, both times at Target Field.
Friday night, Austin started the fifth-inning comeback with a leadoff home run to right field, his 15th homer of the season between the Yankees and Twins. Ehire Adrianza and Joe Mauer singled, followed by a two-run double by Jorge Polanco that cut Texas’ lead to 6-3 and knocked out Rangers starter Drew Hutchinson.
Robbie Grossman drew a walk against lefthanded reliever Matt Moore, then Max Kepler singled to load the bases. Mitch Garver then blasted a knuckle curve to the gap in left center that cleared the bases and tied the score at 6-6.
The Twins weren’t done yet. Moore left a fastball over the heart of the plate to Cave, who launched it an estimated 417 feet to right for a two-run homer and an 8-6 lead.
In one inning, the Twins scored as many runs as they did during their entire three-game series at Cleveland earlier in the week. And they did it without their most productive player in the lineup: Eddie Rosario sat out because of a sore right quadriceps and could miss the remaining five games of the road trip.
The Twins added two in the seventh to take a 10-6 lead before Texas scored in the ninth.
Every Twins starter reached base at least once. The only Twins starter not to have a positive impact on the game was lefthander Stephen Gonsalves, who was knocked out of his third major league start in the fourth inning.
He failed to get ahead of hitters enough and paid the price. He gave up a two-run double to Jurickson Profar in the third, followed by four runs in the fourth, including a three-run homer by Nomar Mazara right after pitching coach Garvin Alston went to the mound for a pep talk.
“I think I was just nibbling a little bit,” said Gonsalves, who has a 9.90 ERA with the Twins. “I was living fractions off the corner of the plate. I think I need to set up and get that strike one first and then start expanding.”