Twins 5, Pirates 4: Nelson Cruz Delivers a Walk-Off Hit to Cap Comeback
Image courtesy of © Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY SportsBox Score
Thorpe: 4.0 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 4 BB, 3 K
Home Runs: None
Top 3 WPA: Kepler .459, Wisler .207, Cruz .178
Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs):
The night didn’t start off all the optimistic for the Twins, as the Pirates jumped over Lewis Thorpe right from the get-go, as leadoff hitter Cole Tucker took Thorpe deep on the first pitch of the game.
Thorpe said, "It was a bit of a reality check. You're not expecting him to swing first pitch, then all of a sudden, he lets loose and it gets over the fence. That's baseball."
After cruising through the rest of the first, Thorpe did anything but in the rest of his outing. In the second inning, the Pirate strung together three straight singles to tack on another run. Then in the fourth it was walks that did Thorpe in, as he gave up four walks and a double to the seven batters that he faced that inning. Luckily though, the Pirates still only managed to bring one run across in that inning.
Following the game, Thorpe said, "I feel fine. I don't know it was tonight, but hopefully I can get that velo back, but just put this one behind me and go from here."
After Thorpe’s disappointing start, Jorge Alcala was brought in to make his 2020 debut. Alcala also struggled with his command in the fifth, but it was a couple of hits that helped the Pirates take on another run in the fifth, increasing their lead to four. The sixth inning, however, was a very impressive one for the young pitcher, as Alcala seemed to find his rhythm on his way to an easy 1-2-3 inning.
The Twins bats were very silent during the first half of the game. Through the first five innings of the game, Twins failed to get a runner into scoring position, as the only two runners to reach base were Max Kepler and Nelson Cruz on singles in the second a fourth innings, respectively.
That narrative all changed in the bottom of the sixth, when the Twins used a patient approach to score four two-out runs to tie the game back up. Mitch Garver, Miguel Sano, Marwin Gonzalez, Jake Cave and Byron Buxton all drew walks in the inning, but it was two big hits that did the damage in the inning. Nelson Cruz got the Twins on the board with a two-out squibber to beat the shift and bring Garver home for the first run of the inning. Then a couple batters later Max Kepler came through with this massive double, to bring the lead down to one.
The Pirates went to the bullpen after that Kepler double, but that decision didn’t pan out well for them as reliever Miguel Del Pozo walked all three batters that he faced, which included a wild pitch that brought Kepler home from third as the game’s tying run.
Pirates manager Derek Shelton then turned the game over to Chris Stratton to face Ehire Adrianza. In his second at-bat of the inning, Adrianza made an excellent bid for a go-ahead base hit, but he was robbed by a great catch by Pirates left fielder Bryan Reynolds.
After pitching a scoreless inning and a third in yesterday’s ballgame, Matt Wisler was back out on the mound tonight, in a suddenly meaningful spot. Just like he did against the Indians on Sunday, Wisler looked very impressive tonight retiring all six batters that he faced.
Wisler said, "Coming into the game, my job in that situation is just to try to keep the team where it's at."
Taylor Rogers then came in to pitch a scoreless ninth, giving the Twins bats a chance to end it in the ninth.
Jorge Polanco pinch-hit for Ehire Adrianza to leadoff the inning off of former Twins farmhand NIck Burdi, and blooped a single out into left-field. He then advanced to second on a passed ball, during the Mitch Garver plate appearance, that eventually resulted in a walk, putting runners on first and second with nobody out. The next batter was Luis Arraez, why drilled a line drive into the right-centerfield gap, that was hauled in by Pirates right fielder Guillermo Heredia. However, both Polanco and Garver were able to tag-up on the play.
That set the table for Nelson Cruz, who surprisingly was not intentionally walked to load the bases for Miguel Sano.
Cruz said, "I thought maybe they would pitch around me."
Cruz took full advantage of the situation and drove a deep fly ball to the warning track in right-centerfield that drop for a walk-off base hit.
Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet
A live virtual audience joined John Bonnes, Cody Christie, Ted Schwerzler and Jeremy Nygaard and discussed the Minnesota Twins' walkoff 5-4 win over the Pirates.
Download The Postgame Pint Podcast
You can also listen to the Postgame Pint and never miss another one. Just head over to our iTunes page and subscribe. Every morning you'll have a new episode waiting for you. Or listen wherever you download your favorite podcasts.
Seth Stohs contributed quotes to this article.
MORE FROM TWINS DAILY
— Latest Twins coverage from our writers
— Recent Twins discussion in our forums
— Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
— You can follow Andrew Thares on Twitter here
- operation mindcrime, MN_ExPat and JDubs like this