ANAHEIM, CALIF. – There was no meltdown by the Twins bullpen on Thursday, just a one-pitch knockdown. And they could handle that.
After Kole Calhoun put the Angels ahead with an eighth-inning homer off of Taylor Rogers, the Twins responded with three runs in the ninth to pull out a 4-2 victory, ending a four-game losing streak.
The visitors clubhouse at Angel Stadium in Anaheim was full of celebrating players as they won a game during which they pulled off the 12th triple play in club history and won for just the second time all season when trailing after eight innings.
“With the last handful of games we have played, starting with the extra-inning game [on Sunday] they have been tough,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “They have been hard to watch as the games have unfolded late.
“Tonight, we were a little more fresher and had a little more options as to what to do to contain and try to keep us in the game. Ultimately we needed to rally to win.”
After losing four in a row and getting pummeled at home by the Astros, the Twins are back on the road — where they feel like it’s home. They have won 10 of their past 11 road games and are 15-5 overall away from Target Field.
Working against reliever Jose Alvarez in the ninth, Jorge Polanco reached on an error by Jefry Marte when he missed Polanco’s routine pop fly down the first base line. Eddie Rosario then doubled down the left field line. Third base coach Gene Glynn initially waved Polanco home but threw up the stop sign when former Twins outfielder Ben Revere got the ball back in quickly. Polanco dived back into third just ahead of the tag.
Eduardo Escobar pinch hit for Byron Buxton, and was intentionally walked.
Jason Castro, batting .215 entering the game, singled to left. Revere fielded the ball as Polanco scored. Glynn, aware of Revere’s below average arm strength, waved Rosario home with the lead run.
Joe Mauer drew a bases-loaded walk off Bud Norris to force in Escobar and make it 4-2.
Brandon Kintzler pitched a clean ninth for his 14th save.
The Twins and Angels headed for the late innings tied 1-1. But not before they were involved in one of those plays you don’t see at the ballpark very often.
Marte’s grounder in the fourth inning was gobbled up by Sano, and the big man stepped on third base for an out, then fired to second.
Gasps could be heard around the stadium. Fans knew what was coming.
Brian Dozier stepped on second - for a second out - turned and threw to first. Marte was out.
You score that 5-4-3. For the Twins it was pretty as can be. The triple play got lefthander Adalberto Mejia out of a jam.
The Twins’ bench erupted, with Hector Santiago nearly leaping over the railing.
Sano pumped his fist as the Twins exited the field. There were indications after the game that, somehow, Sano predicted a triple play before the game.
“Rumor has it he called it.” Molitor said. “I don’t know if he was excited about the play or being prophetic.”
It was the first Twins triple play since May 27, 2006 when Luis Castillo, Justin Morneau and Tony Batista (!) teamed for one. That one was different, as Castillo tagged Adrian Beltre between bases to start it, and Morneau threw to third to get Carl Everett, who was off the bag too far, to end it.
Somehow, the Twins and Angels have done this before. The clubs have combined for six triple plays against each other, with everyone from John Castino to Rance Mulliniks being involved.
But did Sano really call it?
“Ya, I predicted it,” Sano said. “I kept thinking it. I kept saying it. I came and I practiced getting the ground ball on the line, touching third and throwing to second. One the situation came, I kept saying, ‘Mejia, give me the right pitch, and I’ll get it.”
It was another reason why yelling could be easily be heard in the hallway outside the visitors’ clubhouse as the Twins celebrated a comeback win.
“These guys were feeling good about getting out of being at home and being in a new game, new series,” Molitor said. “And we have had success on the road. That was good to continue.”