As has been the case more times than not this season, the Twins simply didn’t have the juice Saturday evening.
John Gant took to the mound approximately an hour after the game was scheduled to begin — more on that in a second — and relatively breezed through the opening frame. However, the second didn’t go as smoothly.
Teoscar Hernandez wedged his 31st home run of the season in the ivy that coats the batter’s eye in centerfield to give the Jays a 1-0 lead. A couple of hits and a bobbled ball in rightfield later, Toronto extended their lead to 2-0, which ultimately proved enough to take down the Twins.
Minnesota’s offense was anemic all evening, mustering a meager three hits, only one of which — a Josh Donaldson double — went for extra bases.
However, it wasn’t all doom and gloom for the Twins. Jovani Moran produced his best big league outing, throwing 19 pitches — 15 for strikes — and punching out four. Byron Buxton and Jorge Polanco picked up stolen bases, while Mitch Garver just missed launching his 14th home run, settling for a long sacrifice fly instead.
That’s about where the positives end, though. Minnesota has seven games remaining on their schedule and they’ll have to win at least four to avoid a 90-loss season.
The Twins will conclude their series against the Blue Jays on Sunday as Griffin Jax (3-4, 6.75 ERA) and Alek Manoah (7-2, 3.36 ERA) go head-to-head. First pitch is slated for 1:10 p.m. CT.
The reason the game was delayed nearly an hour was because Justin Morneau became the 34th player inducted into the Minnesota Twins Hall of Fame. The four-time All-Star and 2006 American League MVP played his first 11 seasons in a Twins uniform and wracked up 221 home runs with a .278/.347/.485 slash line. He along with his good friend and fellow MVP winner Joe Mauer formed the foundation for some of the most fearsome and fun Twins’ lineups.
Morneau’s speech was long but perfectly enmeshed inside jokes with touching commentary and memories. The entire thing can be viewed below.
Another thing that I will always remember is the way he was talked about in my hometown. I grew up in a small town in southcentral Minnesota, the same town that Morneau’s wife, Krista, grew up in. It’s one of those farming communities that dot the landscape south and west of the Twin Cities where the only place to eat is a Dairy Queen. Whenever Justin and Krista were in the area, good-natured rumors would spread like wildfire. The neighbor kid saw him riding his moped down by the park. Word on the street is that he had agreed to play with the local townball team once he retired. That kind of stuff.
While I wasn’t around to witness it, Morneau stopped by at my brother’s little league game the day after winning the 2008 home run derby with his award. The game paused in the middle innings so that all the kids could take individual pictures with him. He also recognized the rough shape of the dugouts and donated money for them to be refurbished.
For all intents and purposes, Justin Morneau is one of the “good ones” and seeing his name forever in the confines of Target Field will never not bring joy and fond memories for myself and all Twins fans.
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