In fairness, we must note that the Twins’ 7-5 victory over Texas on Thursday evening was one heck of a win. The drumbeat of Minnesota’s season has been “bad loss, bad loss, bad loss,” so to watch the Twins’ seemingly Sisyphean fightback against the Rangers turn into an actual summit was extremely enjoyable.
Through seven innings, the Twins had performed the fairly astonishing feat of homering four times and scoring exactly four runs. Michael A. Taylor went deep twice with nobody on, and Kyle Farmer and Royce Lewis both hit solo home runs, and the Twins were still down 5-4 because Pablo López had given up five runs on a season-high ten hits, including three home runs.
Going into the eighth inning, the Twins were also 0-for-11 with five strikeouts with runners on base. Twice they’d hit bases-empty, nobody-out doubles, and then the runner on second hadn’t even moved up to third base.
Matt Wallner led off the inning with a thousand-mph smash off the right field wall for a single, and I think we were all prepared for more futility, but Carlos Correa laced a double off the base of the center-field wall to score Wallner and tie the game.
After Lewis walked, the Rangers brought in crafty lefty Will Smith to face Max Kepler, and here we come to the first unsung hero of Thursday’s game: the three-batter minimum for relievers. Smith immediately got Kepler to hit into a double play, leaving Correa on third with two out, and until not very long ago, he would have immediately left the game with his job done.
Nowadays, though, Smith had to stay in, and the Twins pinch-hit with Ryan Jeffers. Oddly, Jeffers’ stats against lefties are worse than against righties - he is, after all, a Twins hitter - but in this case, he launched a dramatic two-run homer to left field to give the Twins a 7-5 lead.
The second unsung hero of the game was reliever Josh Winder, who put in one of the great long-relief performances of the year for Minnesota. After López had been bombed out of the game, Winder took over and pitched three scoreless innings, working around a pair of walks and giving the Twins a chance to come back. Griffin Jax took over in the ninth and got the save, but Winder got an extremely deserved win.
So the real heroes of the night were the Twins bullpen and Carlos Correa. Feels good, doesn’t it?
I’m not sure the Lynx particularly like how they’ve won two straight against the Dallas Wings; they’ve been grueling physical battles, games in which Minnesota saw late double-digit leads cut to one point down the stretch. But for the second time in three days, Minnesota pulled out the victory, 90-81 in Dallas.
They key possession in this one came with a minute to go, as the Lynx - up three - managed to grab two offensive rebounds after long misses, leading to a Kayla McBride three-pointer that was the back-breaker for Dallas. The Wings got 50 points in the paint and made 19 free throws, including 13 of 18 from the line in the second quarter alone, but Arike Ogunbawale had an uncharacteristic off night, including shooting just 1-7 from three-point range.
McBride had 20 points and Napheesa Collier had her customary 25 for Minnesota, which moved back to .500 for the season with six games to go in the schedule. The Lynx are now just a game behind Dallas for the fourth seed in the playoffs, the final home-court advantage place, and have a four-game lead on Chicago for the final playoff spot. Frankly, the chances of the Sky winning five more games this year are fairly low, so I’d say the Lynx basically have a playoff berth locked up - now all that’s left to decide is seeding.
Minnesota’s next three games are against playoff teams - New York, Washington, and Atlanta - but their final three are against Phoenix, Chicago, and Indiana, which all will likely finish in the bottom four. So you’d have to say that the Lynx have a favorable stretch run, too.
One of the things about following a Triple-A team is that there’s a constant churn of players that are coming through the roster. This is how a guy like DaShawn Keirsey Jr can show up in St. Paul, having spent most of the season at Wichita, and you watch him give the Saints a 6-0 lead with a three-run homer, and you think: who the heck is that guy?
Every player in the Saints lineup got at least one hit, and shortstop Hernan Pérez got five, and the Saints beat Omaha 10-7. St. Paul led 8-0 and 10-4, but the game came down to Jovani Moran pitching to the potential tying run, who flew out to the wall to end the game in dramatic fashion.
Center fielder Andrew Stevenson set a Saints franchise record for hits, getting his 125th and 126th of the year. Stevenson’s hitting .317 this year and slugging .530, with 16 homers. This is his fourth year with at least an .800 OPS at Triple-A, but his best overall; he played in 248 big-league games with the Nationals between 2017 and 2021, with an 85 OPS+, so let’s just say that he’s a slightly-younger Jake Cave, with a little less luck in terms of finding big-league roster spots.
Oh, and continuing our updates on Andrew Bechtold’s transition from third base to pitching: he got bombed in this one, giving up a walk, a single, and a double that turned into two runs in a third of an inning.
TWINS vs Texas, 7:10pm
GOPHERS VOLLEYBALL vs TCU, 7pm
SAINTS at Omaha, 6:35pm
VIKINGS vs Arizona (preseason), Saturday
LYNX vs New York, Saturday
LOONS vs Seattle, Sunday
GOPHER FOOTBALL vs Nebraska, Thursday… how is this only a week away