Each team scored a run in the first inning. John Gant, who’s trying to make a case for himself to be a part of the 2022 starting rotation, nearly had an uneventful top of the first. Standing in the way was Frank Schwindel, who jumped on the first pitch he saw to make it 1-0 Cubs. But that lead didn’t last long. Luis Arraez opened up the bottom of the inning with a leadoff double, snapping an 0-for-16 slump. Byron Buxton followed up with a single to move Arraez to third, and Jorge Polanco pushed him across with a sac-fly, tying the game.
Since we mentioned Buxton, get a load of what he did during the second inning:
The Cubs still managed to score their leadoff runner that same inning, after Robinson Chirinos hit a blast to center field and Brent Rooker couldn’t field it at the warning track. The ball apparently hit him on the leg and rolled away from Buxton. Matt Duffy scored, and Chirinos reached third very easily, giving Chicago back the lead. Minnesota threatened again, in the bottom half, with men in the corners with no outs. But this time, they ended up empty-handed.
After a busy first couple of innings, both pitchers settled down and dominated opposing pitchers. Gant finished off his start with a perfect second time through the order – three consecutive 1-2-3 innings. He didn’t walk a single batter all night. Unfortunately for the Twins, Cubs starter Zach Davies also put away nine batters in a row, starting in the second inning. It was not until the fifth that the Twins would have baserunners again. Both of them ended up being stranded.
Juan Minaya came in relief of Gant and faced the minimum in the sixth. However, he couldn’t keep up the good work during the seventh when he loaded the bases with no outs, forcing Rocco Baldelli to pull him from the game. Tyler Duffey took the mound and did a fantastic job, striking out the side on 16 pitches. This was the first time since May 29 (third overall) that Duffey pitched at least one scoreless inning with three strikeouts. With his outing tonight, he posted a 2.25 ERA in August.
Meanwhile, the offense kept struggling against Cubs pitching. They stranded a pair of runners in the bottom of the seventh, at which point they had accumulated five men left on base and were 1-for-7 with men in scoring position. Chicago’s offense, on the other hand, extended their lead in the eighth, with Ian Happ hitting a monstrous third deck home run to left, which gave the Cubs a two-run lead, 3-1.
The Twins tried to start a rally during the eighth, loading the bases with singles by Arraez and Polanco, and a walk by Donaldson. With only one out, Max Kepler hit a bloop to shallow right, and Arraez decided to tag up, but Duffy made a perfect throw home to get him, giving Chicago an inning-ending double play. Ralph Garza Jr. kept Minnesota’s hopes alive by pitching a scoreless ninth, but the offense went down in order in the bottom half.
Despite losing tonight, the Twins still end up August with a winning record (14-13), the first time this has happened this season. They face the games again this Wednesday (9/1), at 7:10 pm CT, with Joe Ryan set to make his big-league debut.
Check out Tom Froemming's video recap of tonight's Twins action!
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