The sun was shining on a picturesque Sunday afternoon with a nice breeze blowing through Target Field.
The Boston Red Sox were in town. School is out. Summer has commenced.
An eventful baseball game was played with extra innings and an exciting finish, a mammoth walk-off home run by a rookie on a 98-mile-per-hour fastball.
Cool stuff, right?
And yet the outcome seemed inconsequential. Maybe not for one day, but in the macro sense. And that really stinks.
The Twins won a game. Actually, they won a game at home in which they never trailed, which is like a Bigfoot sighting.
They hadn’t played a game at Target Field where they didn’t trail this season before beating the Red Sox 7-4 in 10 innings Sunday.
That’s a fairly remarkable development, but then again, this entire season has disintegrated into the realm of absurdity.
But this was a good win, maybe their best of the season (yes, that’s a heavy dose of faint praise), one that took clutch performances, namely from walkoff hero Max Kepler and hard-throwing reliever Michael Tonkin, who blew away David Ortiz in his final at-bat in Minnesota for the final out of the 10th inning.
“We showed that we can play with these guys,” left fielder Robbie Grossman said.
What about those other days? The Red Sox edged the Twins only 23-5 the first two games of the series.
That’s what makes a game like Sunday’s mildly frustrating, even in the entertainment of a walkoff win over one of baseball’s best teams.
You wish games like that carried more significance in the big picture. You wish a win like that meant something in the standings, in momentum, in giving this town reason to pay close attention.
How much more interesting would it be to dissect Kepler’s home run against Boston’s five-man infield? Or Tonkin’s big-boy outing in relief? Or Pat Dean’s solid start? Or Trevor Plouffe’s sacrifice bunt in the 10th? Or Joe Mauer’s 24-game on-base streak?
Those talking points would feel more substantive under better circumstances, if they didn’t occur in win No. 19.
The reality of a lost season is difficult to escape, even on an enjoyable day at the ballpark.
“Our record is what it is,” Mauer said, “but there have been a lot of games that we’ve been in and couldn’t hang on or maybe lost at the end. It was nice to be on the other side of it.”
General Manager Terry Ryan sounded almost prophetic during his pregame media session. In discussing his team’s failures for roughly the 150,724th time, Ryan pointed to a lack of “damage control.”
“Some of it is pitching, some of it is defense and many times we cannot get a big hit,” he said. “So that’s where we’re at.”
Pretty much puts a bow on the first third of the Twins’ 2016 season.
Their propensity for slapstick always lurks around the corner. That was the case again after seven well-played innings in the series finale.
Just as you’re thinking to yourself, “Hey, the Twins actually are playing pretty well” … they returned to form.
Boston loaded the bases in the eighth with no outs on a walk and two singles off reliever Brandon Kintzler.
Xander Bogaerts followed with a hard grounder to third baseman Eduardo Nunez, who made a nice stop to his left but his throw to second sailed into right field, enabling two runs to score.
The Red Sox scored three runs in the inning to tie the score at 4-4. A feeling of doom swept over Target Field because this movie has played too often this season.
“It was good to see guys keep fighting,” Mauer said.
The change in narrative included some nice moments. Reliever Fernando Abad initiated a 1-6-4 double play in the ninth on a sacrifice bunt attempt.
Mauer drew a leadoff walk in the 10th. Brian Dozier smoked a single. And Kepler launched his first career home run to center for the winner.
Nice win, great weather, fun day at the ballpark.
You just wish it carried more significance than breaking a tie with the Atlanta Braves for the worst record in baseball.