Twins walk off against Texas
MINNEAPOLIS — With two outs and the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth inning, 21-year-old rookie Danny Santana came to the plate with a chance to win a game for the Minnesota Twins.
The result wasn’t pretty, but it was effective for the Twins. Texas Rangers closer Joakim Soria booted a soft ground ball back to the mound, handing the Twins a 4-3, walk-off win Tuesday at Target Field.
The victory snapped Minnesota’s four-game losing streak.
“Whatever you want to call that there at the end, we get a break and we get a win we needed desperately,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “The guys were really competing and into it. I think we threw everything we had into it. A good win for our baseball team.”
Down 3-2 heading into the ninth, the Twins got a one-out double from right fielder Oswaldo Arcia to start the threat. Left fielder Eduardo Nunez followed with a single that tied the game, and he advanced to second on the throw home. Nunez advanced to third on a ground ball to Texas third baseman Adrian Beltre when Beltre could not apply the tag. An intentional walk loaded the bases to set up Santana, who entered the game in the top of the ninth to play center field.
The blown save was Soria’s first of the season.
“He’s human. There’s no perfection in the game of baseball,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “The guy has done everything we asked him to. Tonight, he just didn’t get it done.”
Soria, virtually unhittable in save opportunities over the last month, entered the game having retired 25 consecutive batters in such situations.
“That’s part of the game,” Soria said. “That’s baseball. These kinds of things happen. Today, was a bad day.”
Until the ninth-inning meltdown, the story of the game was Rangers starter Scott Baker. Filling in for late scratch Yu Darvish, who woke up Tuesday with a stiff neck, Baker pitched six strong innings against his former team on three days’ rest. Baker, who was in line to record his first major league win since July 28, 2011 — when he was a Twin — tossed six innings of three-hit, two-run ball, striking out four.
“It’s not always easy when you walk into a clubhouse and the first thing you hear, you might be starting tonight,” Baker said. “As long as you’re giving the team a chance to win, there’s not much more you can do.”
A bloop single by Rangers catcher Chris Gimenez in the top of the sixth inning looked as if it would be the difference for Texas, as the Rangers took advantage of a crucial fielding miscue by Minnesota’s Chris Parmelee.
Parmelee, making his second career start in left field, failed to call off shortstop Eduardo Escobar on an easy fly ball by Rangers first baseman Mitch Moreland. The ball dropped, and Moreland moved to second on a single by Beltre. After a double play erased Beltre at second, Moreland scampered home with the lead run on Gimenez’s hit.
“We miss a play out there and end up giving them the lead,” Gardenhire said. “Fortunately for us, the breaks finally went our way at the end.”
Texas jumped on Twins starter Phil Hughes for two runs in the top of the second after opening the inning with two runs. A sacrifice bunt moved both runners into scoring position before a Donnie Murphy blast to center knocked in the game’s first run. The Texas designated hitter appeared to have a three-run homer, but Twins center fielder Aaron Hicks jumped at the wall and brought it back, holding Murphy to a long sacrifice fly. A ground-rule double by second baseman Rougned Odor drove in another run to make it 2-0.
Minnesota cut the deficit in half on a solo homer by Arcia in the bottom half of the inning and tied the game in the third on back-to-back doubles by second baseman Brian Dozier and first baseman Joe Mauer.
Hughes was solid once again, pitching seven innings of three-run ball, allowing eight hits and striking out three. He did not walk a batter for the sixth consecutive game. He has gone 175 batters without issuing a free pass.
After righty Casey Fien pitched a scoreless eighth, Minnesota closer Glen Perkins (2-0) worked around a leadoff triple by Rangers right fielder Alex Rios, getting two ground balls to short and a fly to left to keep the deficit at one run.
NOTES: Minnesota registered its third walk-off win of the season. ... Rangers RHP Yu Darvish was scratched from his scheduled start after he awoke Tuesday morning with neck stiffness, which general manager Jon Daniels said improved after treatment. He was sent for an MRI on the injury, the results of which were deemed “unremarkable.” The team said the results of the test revealed a similar result to one in spring training, an ailment that cost the righty two weeks and delayed the start of his season. ... Rangers RF Alex Rios went 3-for-4, extending his multi-hit streak to seven games and his overall hitting streak to 10 games. ... Twins 1B Joe Mauer went 1-for-4, extending his hitting streak to a season-best seven games.