Coming back from behind has been the theme for Minnesota Twins in back-to-back games against Baltimore Orioles.
Twins have won four of the last five games, and are within a game-and-a-half back from leading American League Central only trailing defending American League Champions Cleveland Indians. Twins are currently up two in a four game series against the O’s, showcasing perseverance where they trailed early on but overcame deficits to win on Thursday, July 6, and Friday, July 7.
“You can’t ever say ‘quit’ with these guys,” Twins Chris Gimenez told Fox Sports after winning Friday.
Hosting Orioles Friday, Twins found themselves down 6-0 in the third inning with Manny Manchado hitting a three-run homer a day after his 25th birthday. After that third inning, Twins would allow no more runs and began digging out of their hole one base hit at a time. It started in the fourth inning.
With bases loaded Eddie Rosario hit an RBI single to put the Twins on the board, 6-1. Bases still loaded, Gimenez took a hit by pitch to get an RBI walk. Two runs that inning created momentum for Twins heading into the fifth.
Second baseman Brian Dozier led off the inning with a triple that was followed by an RBI double along the first baseline by Robbie Grossman, 6-3. And that was only the beginning of this fifth inning rally. Right fielder Max Kepler brought home Grossman with an RBI single, 6-4. With runners on first and second leave it to Kennys Vargas, the batter the Twins called up at the last minute after Vargas came off a night where he was playing AAA baseball for Twins minor league ball club.
Already two for two this game, Vargas did not look back with his opportunity. He swung for the fences and barely missed a home run with a shot to left-center field bouncing off the wall for a 2 RBI double that tied the game at six.
In a clutch situation what was going through Vargas’s mind?
“Just staying relaxed at that bat,” Vargas told Fox Sports North after the game. “Looking for a good pitch to hit and that’s what I did…I was hitting a changeup and I just tried to hit in the middle of the field and I got that double.”
Twins managed to take control before the innings end. Gimenez singled to bring Vargas home, 7-6.
Twins went on to score two more insurance runs in the eighth inning, leading 9-6. Pitcher Brandon Kintzler, who was selected to the Major League Baseball All-Star game earlier Saturday, recorded his 24th save in the ninth inning, leading the MLB in saves with 24.
Vargas proved to be a spark plug for the Twins going 3-4 at the plate with a double, 2 RBI’s and a run scored. Getting called up from the Rochester, Minnesota AAA team back to the major’s was no biggy for him.
“I just secured the opportunity to play, try to help my team win,” Vargas said. “I do the best I can every time that I get the opportunity to play.”
The day before, Twins overcame an early two-run deficit. Down 2-0, Twins pilled up a six-run inning that lifted them to a 6-4 victory.
Prior to the Orioles series, Twins beat Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim two games to one, winning 9-5 and 5-4 on Monday, July 3, and Tuesday, July 4, respectively.
Adalberto Mejia recorded Monday’s win racking up five strikeouts in seven innings pitched. Kepler went 4-4 with a walk, 3 RBI’s, a home run and a double. First baseman Joe Mauer hit a two-run homer to give Twins an early lead that game and 2017 All-Star recipient Miguel Sano, who was recognized before the game for his first All-Star game selection, went 3-5 at the plate including a double with 2 RBI’s and two runs scored.
The Fourth of July game was tighter but pitcher Kyle Gibson managed to pull out a win for the Twins. Led by Byron Buxton who went 3-4, hit a home run, scored two runs and recorded a stolen base, Twins were able to fend off the Angels by one run.
Angels didn’t give up without a fight as future Hall of Famer Albert Pujols hit career home run 603.
That was Pujols fifth career home run on Independence Day.
Twins failed to get the three-game sweep over the Angels losing 2-1 Wednesday, July 5, despite pitcher Ervin Santana pitching a complete game. However, the Twins have rebounded the last two games winning in comeback fashion and will face the O’s Saturday and Sunday before taking off for All-Star break.
Twins are currently second in the American League Central sitting on a 45-41 record (25-15 on the road).
By Gino Terrell