MINNESOTA 6, TEXAS 3 IN TEXAS
Date: Sunday, August 18.
Batting stars: Jorge Polanco was 2-for-4 with a triple, a walk, and three RBIs. Ehire Adrianza was 2-for-5 with a double. MIguel Sano was 1-for-3 with a double, two walks, and two runs.
Pitching stars: Martin Perez pitched five innings, giving up two runs on five hits and four walks and striking out two. Zack Littell pitched a perfect inning and struck out one. Sergio Romo pitched a scoreless inning and struck out one. Taylor Rogers struck out two in a scoreless inning, giving up two hits.
Opposition stars: Hunter Pence was 3-for-4 with a walk. Shin-Soo Choo was 2-for-5 with a home run (his twentieth) and a stolen base (his ninth). Willie Calhoun was 2-for-5. Taylor Guerrieri struck out four in two perfect innings.
The game: The Twins again took an early lead, as Max Kepler walked, Polanco singled, and Marwin Gonzalez delivered a two-out two-run double. The Twins loaded the bases with two out in the second, but that worked out the way it usually does for the Twins. The Rangers put two on with two out in the bottom of the second and the Twins did the same in the top of the third, but neither team did anything with that.
The Twins stretched their lead to 3-0 in the fourth when Sano doubled, went to third on a wild pitch, and scored on a sacrifice fly. Texas got back into the game in the bottom of the fourth. Pence led off with a single, Delino DeShields hit a two-out single, a wild pitch advanced the runners, and Jeff Mathis hit a two-run single. It was 3-2, and it stayed 3-2 until the seventh, when Choo led off the inning with a home run to tie it 3-3.
In the eighth, Adrianza led off with a single and Jason Castro doubled. The first out came on a strikeout, and Adrianza was thrown out at home on a grounder to short, as the Twins once again put on the contact play. A walk to Sano loaded the bases, and this time it did not work out the way it usually does for the Twins. Instead, Polanco hit a bases-clearing triple to right-center, giving the Twins a 6-3 lead. The Rangers threatened in the ninth, bringing the tying run to the plate on a pair of two-out singles, but Rogers struck out Rougned Odor to end the game.
WP: Sam Dyson (5-1). LP: Emmanuel Clase (0-2). S: Rogers (19).
Notes: Kepler started the game in center and Jake Cave was in right in the continued absence of Byron Buxton. Marwin Gonzalez started at third base, with Sano at designated hitter in the continued absence of Nelson Cruz. Adrianza was at first base, with C. J. Cron on the bench. In the seventh inning, the heat apparently got to Kepler, so Cave moved to center, Gonzalez went to right, Adrianza moved to third, and Cron came into the game at first base.
Luis Arraez was 0-for-4 with a walk and is now batting .342. Rogers has an ERA of 2.59.
There was some discussion of the strike zone in the game log. I wasn't able to see enough of the game to comment on that. I did, however, see the last strike of the game, and I don't think Texas has any complaint coming on it. Yes, it may have been an inch off the plate. I don't think it's reasonable to complain if the umpire misses a ninety-five mph fastball by an inch. If you want to say that's why we need robo-umps, that's fine. But as long as we have human umps, I think we have to cut them a little bit of slack. When they're missing pitches by three or four inches, it bothers me. But not when they miss one by an inch or less.
As the schedule turns in the Twins favor, it's now possible to use the cliche that the Twins' fate is in their hands. They lead Cleveland by 2.5 games with thirty-eight to play. They have six games left with the Indians, plus three with Boston and three with Washington. The other twenty-six games are against the White Sox, Detroit, and Kansas City. Scoreboard watching is fun, and I'll still be rooting for Cleveland to lose. But if the Twins simply win the games they should win, they'll win the division. And if they don't, they won't deserve to win the division.
Record: The Twins are 76-48, first in the American League Central, 2.5 games ahead of Cleveland.
Projected record: We're still on track for 114-48!