CHICAGO — Like so many rookies before him, Nick Gordon discovered the joys and frustrations of playing at Wrigley Field on Tuesday.
The Twins' versatile utility player drilled a home run into the basket in front of the left-field bleachers, a two-run shot that gave the Twins the lead for good en route to a 9-5 victory over the Cubs. Gordon was one of four Twins to rack up three hits, the first time in more than two years they've done that.
"It was really kind of an explosive effort from our guys," Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. "Really, everywhere you looked, there were good swings."
A couple on the other side, too, one of which illustrated for Gordon the difficulty of patrolling in front of those ivy-covered bleachers. When Cubs first baseman Frank Schwindel smashed a high line drive to Gordon's left, he couldn't quite reach it — then watched it disappear into the ivy. Schwindel was awarded a double, and Gordon left it to ballpark personnel to search the vines for the ball.
No harm done, though, as the Twins scored more than six runs for just the third time in their past 24 games. In addition to Gordon's homer, the Twins' 4-5 hitters were in the middle of most of the offense. Cleanup hitter Josh Donaldson drove in runs with a first-inning sacrifice fly and a fifth-inning single, and Max Kepler, batting directly behind him, contributed run-scoring singles in the fourth and fifth innings.
"It was kind of odd," Donaldson said of the Twins' 16-hit attack. "It wasn't a really good night to hit here at Wrigley, and with the wind blowing in, the ball wasn't really carrying very well."
The runs were necessary, because starter Griffin Jax had difficulty tamping down the Cubs' home-field attack, allowing one run in each of the first three innings. Jax's problem was a familiar one — he surrendered solo home runs to Trayce Thompson in the second inning, and Willson Contreras in the third.
The only hit the Twins were worried about, though came in the ninth inning — a pitch that hit Byron Buxton on the front of his left foot. The outfielder limped around while waiting for the feeling to come back, Baldelli said, but was able to finish the game in center field.
"His foot was pretty numb," the manager said. "Ultimately, he said he was fine. Obviously we're going to check on him tomorrow to make sure he's doing OK, make sure nothing swells up. It hit him pretty good, but he's not coming out of the game for that."