MINNEAPOLIS — The Twins’ 4-3 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers on Tuesday night at Target Field took 12 innings to complete and 4 hours, 28 minutes to play. It had a little bit of everything, some of it brilliant and some of it, well, not so brilliant. In honor of the innings played, let’s go through 12 highlights, lowlights and notable moments from a game that was very fitting for 2020.
— SKOR North (@SKORNorth) August 19, 2020
- The star of the show, at least for the first eight innings, was Twins starter Kenta Maeda, who walked the second batter of the game, Christian Yelich, on four pitches and then retired the next 21 hitters before walking Omar Narvaez after a 10-pitch at-bat in the eighth. Maeda entered the ninth inning with a no-hitter and a 3-0 lead but gave up a bloop single to Eric Sogard on an 0-1 changeup leading off and and was removed to loud applause played over the sound system in an empty Target Field. Twins executives sitting in the owners suite did give Maeda a standing ovation after a performance in which he established a franchise record by striking out eight consecutive hitters. That put him one short of tying the AL record and two short of tying Tom Seaver’s Major League record. Maeda departed having thrown a career-high 115 pitches. He struck out 12, walked two and gave up only the one hit. He did get charged with a run as well.
- Taylor Rogers replaced Maeda with Sogard on first but wasn’t able to close out the game. Rogers gave up a double to Avisail Garcia and walked Yelich to load the bases. Keston Hiura singled to score Sogard and keep the bases loaded. Pinch hitter Jedd Gyorko then grounded to shortstop. Jorge Polanco tossed the ball to second baseman Ildemaro Vargas for one out but the relay throw was off target to first baseman Marwin Gonzalez. One run scored on the force play and the errant throw enabled Yelich to score the tying run. Rogers then struck out Ryan Braun and Manny Pina to end the inning but was charged with his second blown save of the season. Rogers’ ERA is now at 4.82, although one of the two runs scored against him was unearned. Vargas had been brought in to replace regular second baseman Luis Arraez, who apparently aggravated a knee injury that has bothered him for several weeks.
- Gonzalez, facing Josh Hader, was called out on strikes by plate umpire Jeremie Rehak in the 10th inning, causing the Twins first baseman to express his frustration with Rehak’s decision. Gonzalez was ejected and with the Twins low on bench players catcher Mitch Garver had to make a rare appearance at first base.
- The Twins’ first extra-innings game of the season meant we got to see a runner placed on second base to start each inning beginning with the 10th. That’s part of the pandemic baseball plan to try to speed up games. The Twins’ first runner to be placed on second was Jake Cave, who ran for Nelson Cruz in the 10th. Cruz was the scheduled runner because he had made the last out of the ninth. Cave was stranded on second as Eddie Rosario flew to left and Gonzalez and Vargas struck out against Hader.
- The Twins opened the bottom of the 11th with Vargas at second base and Ehire Adrianza at the plate. The Brewers were expecting Adrianza to bunt Vargas to third but he swung away and hit the ball to Gyorko at first base. This is where it got fun. Gyorko threw across the diamond to third baseman Brock Holt, who made a great scoop, to tag out Vargas. Byron Buxton then hit into a 5-4-3 double play to end the inning, meaning reliever David Phelps had faced only two hitters.
- Buxton, who might be the fastest player in baseball, hit into not one but two inning-ending 5-4-3 double plays in consecutive at-bats. Baseball!
- Ryan Braun started the game as Milwaukee’s designated hitter but in the 10th inning manager Craig Counsell put the veteran in right fielder, meaning the Brewers had forfeited their DH. In this pandemic-shortened season, the DH is being used universally so this wasn’t business as usual for the NL-based Brewers. Counsell, though, juggled his lineup enough so his relievers never had to hit in extra innings.
- The Brewers had a chance to take the lead in the top of the 12th inning when Braun singled to left after Gyorko started the inning on second base. With runners on first and third, Pina popped to second. Orlando Arcia hit a sinking liner off Twins reliever Jorge Alcala on which right fielder Max Kepler made a diving catch after charging in on the ball. Gyorko surprised everyone by not tagging on the play, probably thinking the ball would drop, and was forced to hold at third. Luis Urias struck out on a foul tip to end the inning.
- Buxton began the bottom of the 12th on second base and advanced to third when Alex Avila grounded to first. Kepler then worked the count full against Phelps before being hit by a pitch. The Brewers got creative by bringing in Braun from right field and putting him at third base as a part of a five-man infield. Jorge Polanco hit a weak roller to Urias at second but the speedy Buxton beat the throw home to score the winning run. The play was scored a fielder’s choice. If anyone but Buxton had been running the game might still be going.
- Alcala, who gave up one hit, walked one and struck out one in two innings, earned his first big-league victory in his seventh appearance. The 25-year-old was acquired by the Twins from Houston in the trade that sent reliever Ryan Pressly to the Astros in 2018.
- Miguel Sano struck out in his first at-bat, giving him eight strikeouts in 11 at-bats on this home stand, but he doubled in his next two plate appearances to “raise” his average to .172 on the season. Sano was taken out of the game, as is often the case, in the eighth inning for defensive purposes.
- Baldelli announced after Tuesday’s game that veteran lefty Rich Hill will come off the injured list and start Wednesday against the Brewers. Hill’s only start of the season came on July 29 against the Cardinals at Target Field. He gave up no runs and two hits with a walk and two strikeouts in a 3-0 victory. He then landed on the 10-day injured list because of fatigue in his pitching shoulder.