The Twins and Athletics were determined to play Tuesday night. But first, the waters had to recede.
Thunderstorms moved through the Twin Cities during rush hour and into the evening, dumping water and taking down power lines throughout the area. The warning track at Target Field even looked like a quagmire as sheets of rain descended upon the field.
But the forecast called for clear skies around 10 p.m., and the teams agreed to wait it out.
After a 2-hour, 42-minute rain delay, lefthander Tommy Milone set out to prove he deserved to remain in the Twins starting rotation, pitching six solid innings in an 11-4 victory. The Twins slugged three home runs, getting back-to-back homers by Kennys Vargas and Max Kepler and a three-run shot in the ninth inning by Miguel Sano to put the game away.
The combination of the weather and the sorry state of the team led to an announced crowd of 16,938, the smallest in Target Field history. The actual crowd was much smaller than that.
Milone, throwing his fastball with more conviction, held his old team to one run over six innings on five hits and a walk with two strikeouts. It was the first time he has pitched at least four innings in four starts. His lone blemish was a home run by Marcus Semien in the second.
The Twins tied the score in the bottom of the inning when Vargas scored on a groundout by Kurt Suzuki. Two innings later, Suzuki’s RBI single drove in Kepler to give the Twins a 2-1 lead. Byron Buxton followed with an RBI double to left.
Vargas blasted a two-run homer to left in the fifth to give the Twins a 5-1 lead, and Kepler hit the next pitch out to right.
All those runs came off lefthander Sean Manaea, who held the Twins to one run over six innings June 1 at Oakland. Robbie Grossman’s RBI single made it 7-1 in the sixth. Bullpen blundering from both teams dominated the late innings as Tuesday went into Wednesday, with ex-Twin Danny Valencia hitting a three-run homer off Neil Ramirez in the eighth and Miguel Sano hitting a three-run homer off ex-Twin Liam Hendriks in the bottom of the inning.
It seemed unlikely a pitch would ever be thrown. Hours earlier, conditions were so extreme both teams would have had to become amphibious to play.
The only announcement that was conceivable at the time was that the game was going to be postponed. But the few remaining fans cheered when it was announced around 9 p.m. that the first pitch was scheduled for around 9:50 p.m.
There wasn’t an appetite from either team for a day-night doubleheader Wednesday, with both teams scheduled to fly to Texas at the end of the day. They had one common off day the rest of the season, Sept. 8, but the A’s would have had to fly out in the middle of a homestand to make up the game.
“Major League Baseball made it be known that it wanted this game played,” Twins President Dave St. Peter said. “Both teams wanted to play, understanding that split day-night doubleheaders are never preferred, particularly on a travel day.”
So the decision was made to wait. There were only a couple thousand fans in attendance when Milone threw a strike to Coco Crisp at 9:52 p.m., the latest first pitch in Target Field history.
The Twins announced anyone who had a ticket for the game — even if they stayed — could exchange it for a future game. In the fourth inning, workers handed out youth gloves to the kids still at the park.