Okay, everyone who a week ago, when the Yankees wrapped up their sweep of the Twins, thought the Twins would go on to win their next six games on the road, raise your hands. Okay, now put your hands down, because you know you're lying.
Predictions of season-ending winning streaks aside, I really did not have a lot of confidence that the Twins would win this game. Chris Archer is a really good pitcher, and I expected the Twins batters to struggle mightily against him. Duff-man had looked good in two of his three starts, but I was skeptical that he'd be able to hold the Rays down sufficiently to make up for the expected poor offense. I had hope, but I didn't think it looked very good.
Shows what I know. Tyler Duffey wasn't exactly dominant, but despite giving up seven hits and four walks he allowed only two runs in 5.1 innings. He got the Jays to strand three runners in the fourth and again in the fifth before leaving in the sixth with the bases once again loaded. Brian Duensing came in and stranded three again, meaning the Rays had left the bases loaded in three innings in a row. Oddly, those were their only men left on base of the night. Duensing had trouble in the seventh, but Blaine Boyer got him out of that jam, got through the eighth with no trouble, and turned it over to Kevin Jepsen for the ninth.
On offense, the Twins did fairly well and really should've scored more than five, given that they got thirteen hits (the Rays offense felt the same way, of course). They threatened in both the third and fourth before breaking through in the fifth. Eduardo Escobar, who I still think can be an adequate major league shortstop, hit two home runs. The Twins took the lead in the seventh with one of their smoke-and-mirrors rallies: a walk, two bunt singles, a blooper, and a sacrifice fly. And at the end of the game, the Twins had their sixth straight win.
A couple of notes:
I must admit, I was not at all confident when Boyer came in to pitch in the seventh, and I was even less confident when he came out for the eighth. I think my comment to Mrs. A was "Good grief, you got away with using him in the seventh. Praise the Lord for that and move on." But Boyer made me look like a fool by facing only three batters, giving up a single but making up for it with a double play.
The Twins have moved into the second wild card spot, leading Texas by a half game, with only thirty-six games left. There's a sentence I didn't expect to write this season. If the Twins do make the playoffs, one of the reasons why will be Terry Ryan's acquisition of Kevin Jepsen. There's another sentence I didn't expect to write. After a shaky first game, Jepsen has been awesome, even stepping into the closer spot when Glen Perkins has been unavailable. I think we can say it's unlikely that we'd have a six-game winning streak without him.
Having won this many games, we may as well go ahead and get the sweep. Tommy Milone, who has pitched well sometimes, goes against Drew Smyly, who's been hurt most of the season. He's made two starts since coming off the disabled list, the first not so good but the second pretty good. He should be no problem for the Twins, because again, we have Momentum on our side. Not only that, the way the Twins have won a lot of these games, we may even be a Team of Destiny, and you simply cannot beat a Team of Destiny. We're six games into our season-ending forty-two game winning streak! We're still on track for 101-61!