Cleveland failed to win it with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth, but Cesar Hernandez sent everybody home in style an inning later with a two-run home run. Cleveland’s bullpen provided four and two-thirds innings of scoreless relief after Shane Bieber left with three earned in the sixth. Franmil Reyes also homered, but later left after injuring himself.
Losing Reyes is something with which the team must now reckon but it may indicate how fiercely both teams fought today. The Twins batted Shane Bieber around a bit. He allowed eight hits and a walk along with three runs. We are spoiled that this is “Bad Bieber” and for the most part, he worked around it. The Twins still made him earn every single out.
The extended to the bullpen, and it started with Nick Sandlin. He managed to load them up in the sixth before striking out Andrelton Simmons to maintain a three-run tie.
That’s when The Usual Suspects arrived and ended the fun for Minnesota. Bryan Shaw struck out one in a hitless and scoreless inning. Emmanuel Clase stretched multiple innings without a hit or walk. James Karinchak struggled as he struck out only two in his perfect inning and a third to close.
There seems to be an A-team and a B-team when it comes to Cleveland’s bullpen, and I’m pretty sure our B-guys are A-guys in most other places. This is phenomenally fun, and it keeps setting us up for drama like this:
Bottom of the ninth. Bases loaded. Two outs, a tie game, a full count.
We were lucky enough to be granted such a moment today with Austin Hedges at the plate. I think fans of either team will agree that an infield popup is a bit of a letdown. Cleveland fans, understandably, are more let down. I remember that, and then also recall the way that Hedges tossed his bat away in disgust. He came so close to fulfilling the dream he mumbled in the backyard years ago.
This ended up being okay, though.
Cesar Hernandez strode to the plate in the new-rules tenth inning. A bunt would have been great, but a walk-off bomb? Sublime. Particularly since it came after he wanted to bunt but took a ball instead. When the results are that good I think you’re fine letting the process be whatever it needs to be.
- I’ll admit it, I wanted Cesar Hernandez to bunt. I think it’s the right call to bunt on 0-0 and probably also the right call to swing away if you get to 1-0. This is really easy to think in the aftermath of a walk-off dinger, but boy was I glad when things played out that way. Maybe I was wrong, but we won. Great!
- Cleveland and Minnesota combined to use eleven pitchers in today’s game.
- Franmil Reyes might be out a while, y’all. Oblique injuries can take forever to heal; one must also build a lot of strength back up before playing again. I hope we hear good news.
- While Austin Hedges didn’t earn his CLT +++ reward, he did have a fine game overall with two hits, a walk, and a ribbie.
Twins starter Kenta Maeda mysteriously disappeared after the fifth inning. It took some time to sort out whether he was injured or the Twins simply decided to make a pitching change after the inning began. Turns out some pre-existing groin tightness flared up on him again.
I’ll leave it there.
A 1:10 start for the rubber match of the series. Plesac and Happ. See you there!