BALTIMORE – The boxscore has stood the test of time as vital reference material following baseball games. But it doesn’t tell the entire story, and it definitely won’t reflect how the Twins rallied to beat the Orioles 4-3 on Friday night.
The boxscore is going to make Kurt Suzuki look like a hitting star when he wasn’t. And it won’t totally show how Torii Hunter impacted the game with his feet more so than his bat.
It will show that Casey Fien (3-5) got the victory in relief, recording five outs while throwing only 14 pitches. And that Orioles All-Star sidearmer Darren O’Day (5-2) had a really bad night.
The Twins trailed 3-1 in the eighth inning when Miguel Sano led off with a walk against O’Day. Trevor Plouffe blooped a single to right that second baseman Jonathan Schoop couldn’t catch; Sano had to hustle to avoid getting forced out at second. O’Day then hit Hunter with an 0-1 pitch to load the bases.
Eddie Rosario hit a sacrifice fly to right, enabling Sano to score. But what won’t show up in the boxscore is that Parra, a fine outfielder, tried to throw Plouffe out as he ran to third. Hunter noticed and advanced to second as Plouffe beat the throw.
Twins manager Paul Molitor said from his perch it was hard to tell how deep Parra was, but was glad Plouffe decided to advance and Hunter followed. That put the lead run in scoring position.
“As an outfielder, you have to be concerned about the runner and know [Hunter’s] the go-ahead run,” Molitor said. “If you feel you have a shot at a guy, you are going to go ahead and throw it.”
Suzuki, who set up the Twins’ first run with a 70-foot infield dribbler in the fourth inning, got jammed this time but floated a single between Adam Jones in center and Schoop at second. Plouffe scored easily. Hunter read the ball off the bat and throttled around third to score the lead run.
“We kind of visualize things happening before they happen,” Hunter said. “I saw the second baseman and shortstop, everybody is [playing] in. I saw the right fielder where he was playing, and then the trajectory of Suzuki’s ball. If he caught it, it would have been a great play. Had to take that chance and try to score on that ball.”
Suzuki was 2-for-4 and has five hits over his past two games. “[Thursday] night, he used the barrel,” Molitor joked.
All the Twins had to do was protect the lead, which they failed to do three times against the Yankees earlier this week. But Trevor May pitched a perfect eighth, and with Glen Perkins unavailable, Molitor went to Kevin Jepsen in the ninth.
Jepsen ended a nine-pitch encounter by striking out Jones, then followed by fanning Chris Davis and Matt Wieters to end the game. All three strikeouts were swinging.
“The biggest thing is going out and challenging guys,” said Jepsen, who earned his 11th career save. “You have to get three outs. I’ve done it before. I’ve tried to nitpick and the inning starts to unravel on you. If they are going to beat you, they are going to beat you in the zone.”
The comeback took Tommy Milone off the hook. Protecting a 1-0 lead, he retired 13 consecuive batters at one point, only to give up two singles and a three-run homer to Parra in a span of three pitches in the sixth inning. The offense missed opportunities to bury Baltimore starter Wei-Yin Chen but feasted when O’Day tried to get through the eighth.
The Twins are back to .500 at 61-61, and have won consecutive road games for the first time since June 3-4 in Boston.
“We hung in there,” Molitor said. “The rally was a little bit ugly.’’