There were heroes in many places for the Twins at Target Field on Tuesday, as the incredible hulk of losing streaks came to an end with a 3-1 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays in the opener of a best-of-3 wild-card series.
Eighteen in a row the Twins had lost in the postseason, and diligent mathematicians put the chances of that at one-in-Donald Trump's estimate of his wealth.
The most-obvious heroic figure was rookie Royce Lewis, returning from a 10-game absence to account for the Twins' runs with home runs in his first two postseason at-bats.
Gary Gaetti did that for the 1987 Twins in the ALCS against Detroit, and that team won Minnesota's first-ever World Series.
OK, let's not get too giddy over a single victory after 19 years wandering in baseball's postseason purgatory. Let's just say Lewis was spectacular, this ballclub was sharp in other areas and then there were the surprise contributors:
The customers — announced at 38,450.
Where did this come from, Minnesota sports fans?
Very cheap tickets were available on the secondary market. Indications were strong that it would take a wicked imagination for the Twins to announce a sellout.
Yet, the ticket-holders kept coming as the 3:40 p.m. start approached, and when Minnesota's newest sports hero, Lewis, hit a two-run screamer into the lower left-field bleachers in the bottom of the first, the fans went bonkers and pretty much stayed that way.
Derek Falvey, the Twins' baseball boss for seven seasons, said: "I've never seen a Twins crowd this crazy. I know a lot of you have, but I haven't.''
Manager Rocco Baldelli came in for his postgame media session and was asked what he felt this "win'' meant for the city.
The idea of joy taking over the "city'' part would be a stretch, what with the Vikings about to host the Chiefs and Taylor Swift, but those who went to the splendid outdoor ballyard and created Metrodome-style noise do deserve some bows.
"I thought this place was going to split open and melt … like honestly,'' Baldelli said. "It was out of this universe out there on the field. The fans took over the game.''
The only greater shock than the enthusiasm in the stands took place in Lewis' second at-bat. After that line drive to left on a 3-2 pitch, he faced Blue Jays' ace Kevin Gausman again in the third.
The result was a shot off the skinny scoreboard at the bottom of the second deck in right field.
"I think Royce was sitting on a slider, and when he got a fastball, he still was able to adjust and hit a bomb out of here the other way,'' Falvey said.
Baldelli shook his head and said: "Ridiculous, that he could do that.''
A couple of factors beyond Royce gave the Twins the look of a high-class ballclub.
Pablo López' had 5⅔ strong innings, and then the bullpen allowed nothing: Caleb Thielbar, Louie Varland, Griffin Jax (with the potent part of the order) and Jhoan Duran to finish.
And then in a game that started with a throwing error by Jorge Polanco, playing out-of-position at third, the Twins offered marvelous fielding: Two outstanding catches by Michael A. Taylor in center field. A terrific alert play by shortstop Carlos Correa to throw out a runner at the plate. Finally, and most unlikely, Donovan Solano diving at first, snaring a shot off George Springer's bat and flipping to Duran for the final out.
And now they could do the Minnesota improbable — advance in the playoffs — with a win against old friend José Berríos in Game 2 on Wednesday afternoon.
Berríos made 135 regular-season starts for the Twins before being traded to Toronto for two prospects, infielder Austin Martin and Simeon Woods Richardson, who are stalled in Class AAA.
Then again, the Twins aren't paying Berríos on a $131 million contract through 2029, as are the Blue Jays.
"Appreciate being in the ballpark where I grew up as a major league player … I'm going to enjoy it,'' Berrios said Tuesday. "I've got my family here. I've got my little one, Diego, he was born in Minnesota. It's also going to be special pitching against old friends, old teammates.''
And also a revved-up Target Field crowd, now rooting against him.