CHICAGO -- The Twins and the Mariners started the game on April 7 at Target Field with a high temperature of 27. The wind also was blowing at 12 miles per hour, putting the windchill at 9 degrees.
On Saturday, the temperature reached 96 degrees and the heat index rose to 107 during the Twins-Cubs game at Wrigley Field. Those numbers were reached at roughly the same time the Twins and the Cubs were getting ready to play a fifth inning that lasted 53 minutes, from first pitch to last.
The Twins sent eight batters to the plate against the Cubs’ erratic starter, Tyler Chatwood, and scored four runs to take a 7-4 lead.
Adalberto Mejia, making his first Twins’ start of the season, had been lifted for pinch-hitter Robby Grossman to start the fifth. Manager Paul Molitor went to Addison Reed in the hope that he could protect the newly-gained lead for an inning or two.
There was a promising start with a strikeout of Javier Baez. Anthony Rizzo singled and then Eddie Rosario gave signs that he was in distress in left field. Rosario had homered to ignite the top of the fifth rally, but now the heat had gotten to him and he was replaced in left field by Willians Astudillo – the first big-league action for the 26-year-old Venezuelan.
Rosario was the first of three Twins who left the game when overcome by the heat. Catcher Bobby Wilson followed in the bottom of the sixth, and then center fielder Max Kepler in the eighth. Al Almora also cramped up and left the game for the Cubs.
Reed gave up three more singles and a sacrifice fly after Roario left. Molitor switched to lefthander Zach Duke. He gave up three more singles. When it was done, the Cubs had turned seven singles into five runs and a 9-7 lead.
Fifty-three minutes to play one inning of baseball.
“It felt like all of that,’’ said Wilson, after getting two IV bags of fluids and being back on his feet in the postgame clubhouse.
You played in the summer for the Texas Rangers. How could this be worse?
“I don’t know, but I never had a problem like this in Texas,’’ Wilson said.
Humidity? “I don’t know,’’ he said. “That must be it.’’
The Twins wound up getting clobbered 14-9. They allowed 20 hits. The first 14 were singles, and there were three doubles among the Cubs’ last six hits.
Losing three players to the heat wiped out Molitor’s bench. Pitcher Jake Odorizzi was used as a pinch hitter for the last out.
The Twins infielders -- Joe Mauer, Eduardo Escobar, Ehire Adrianza and Brian Dozier -- were the position players that made it through nine innings. They all ran into the dugout for water and a blast from the fans during the change from Reed to Duke during the interminable fifth.
Mauer doubled with the bases-loaded in the second inning to give the Twins a 3-0 lead. He has eight RBI in the first two games in Wrigley and they have been to no avail, as the Cubs have battered Twins pitchers for 24 runs and 32 hits.
“It’s one of the hottest games of my career,’’ Mauer said. “And the fifth inning? I can’t remember a longer one.’’
Everything considered, the Twins probably would take a 9-degree windchill over a 107-degree heat index. It's easier to protect against frostbite than from being overheated.