The Twins lost both ends of a split double header and find themselves two and a half games behind the Astros for the second wild card spot. Now losers of five straight, the Twins are also a game behind the Angels and just a game and a half ahead of the Indians, all fighting for that final postseason spot.
In the Minor Leagues, both the Cedar Rapids Kernels and the Chattanooga Lookouts returned home for the third game of their Championship Series. Let's see how things went.
Biloxi Shuckers @ Chattanooga Lookouts
Tyler Wagner vs. Greg Peavey
Final: Shuckers 2, Lookouts 0
In the top of the first inning, Greg Peavey gave up a single and a double to the first two batters of the game to put runners at second and third with no outs. Peavey managed to limit the damage, with only one run scoring on a sacrifice fly, sandwiched between a pair of infield popups. Greg Peavey made it through the next three innings without giving up an additional run, but not without drama as he put the leadoff batter on base in every inning. In the fifth, Peavey again put the leadoff man on base, via a double. After a sacrifice bunt and an intentional walk to Orlando Arcia, Manager Doug Mientkiewicz decided he had seen enough and lifted Peavey in favor of D. J. Johnson. Johnson walked the first batter he faced to load the bases. The next batter hit into a fielder's choice, but the Lookouts couldn't turn two, only grabbing the out at second base, allowing a run to score. D.J. Johnson managed to keep more runs off the board, despite throwing a wild pitch and walking the next batter before striking out Biloxi's centerfielder, Brett Phillips. Johnson recorded one out in the seventh before being lifted for Brett Lee. Brett Lee and Jake Reed finished things up, allowing just two hits the rest of the way.
Two runs were plenty for the Shuckers as the Lookouts were 0-8 with runners in scoring position, stranding ten runners in the process. Shuckers pitchers Tyler Wagner and Yhonathan Barrios combined to strike out ten and walked just two, giving up eight total hits. The first three hitters in the Lookouts lineup, Stephen Wickens, Jorge Polanco and Max Kepler, went a combined 0-12. Cleanup hitter Travis Harrison had a great night, 3-3 with a walk and a double, but without anyone on base ahead of him, he didn't have any chances to drive in runs. Centerfielder and number nine hitter Shannon Wilkerson also had a pair of hits, 2-4 and a strike out.
The Shuckers and the Lookouts are back on the field Sunday at 1:15pm. The Lookouts need a win to stay alive.
West Michigan Whitecaps @ Cedar Rapids Kernels
Artie Lewicki vs. Keaton Steele
Final: Whitecaps 1, Kernels 2
The Kernels took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the third inning on a Rafael P. Valera sacrifice fly, but then gave a run back to the Whitecaps in the top of the fourth to knot things at one-one. The game continued on, deadlocked, until the top of the ninth. Pitching his second inning of relief, Luke Bard walked the leadoff hitter and then found himself with a runner on second and one out after a sacrifice bunt. A single to centerfield scored the go-ahead run, and Wade capped the inning on back-to-back strike outs, with the Kernels now down 2-1, down to their last three outs.
Edgar Corcino doubled to start things off for the Kernels in the bottom of the ninth, and then T.J. White came up with a double of his own, off of the left fielder's glove. Because the ball was nearly caught, Corcino was holding up and only advanced to third. With runners on second and third with no outs, the Whitecaps brought in their closer Joe Jimenez was was 5-1 with a 1.47 ERA in the regular season, converting on 17-20 save opportunities and racking up 61 strike outs against just 11 walks in 43 innings. Jimenez proceeded to walk the first batter he faced, LaMonte Wade, loading up the bases for Chris Paul. Paul struck out swinging. Max Murphy came up to bat with the bases still loaded and delivered a sacrifice fly to right field, scoring Edgar Corcino and tying the game at 2-2, putting runners at the corner for Brian Navarreto. Navarreto worked deep into the count, with LaMonte Wade advancing to second on defensive indifference midway through the at bat. Navarreto fouled off a couple of pitches before hitting something close to a Baltimore Chop, a high bouncer that came down midway between the pitchers mound and third base. With T.J. White running home on contact, the only play for Whitecaps third basemen Francisco Contreras was at first. Navarreto beat the throw and the Kernels walk-off winners and are just one win away from winning the Midwest League Championship!
Kernels pitching held the Whitecaps to just five hits all night, led by Keaton Steele who pitched seven innings, struck out five, walked one and gave up four hits. Luke Bard picked up the win thanks to those ninth inning heroics, giving up a hit, a run, striking out two and walking two. Kernels hitters struggled a bit, recording just seven hits, but three of them came in the ninth when they needed them most. Navarreto's infield single was his only hit of the night 1-4, and T.J. White, who scored the winning run, was the only Kernel with multiple hits, 2-4 with a double.
The Kernels will play for the Midwest League Championship at 2:05pm on Sunday.