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  • Royce Lewis is Officially a Minnesota Twins Legend For Life (And He's Just Getting Started)

    Matthew Taylor

    Frank Viola. Jack Morris. Kirby Puckett. Royce Lewis.

    On Tuesday night, Royce Lewis etched his name into Minnesota Twins lore and became a legend for life.

    Image courtesy of Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

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    Heading into the 2023 postseason there were plenty of questions surrounding the availability of Royce Lewis. Less than two weeks ago, Lewis had suffered a hamstring injury that was deemed a three to four week injury. As he usually does, Lewis beat the odds, made the roster, and was named as the starting designated hitter for the Minnesota Twins in Game 1 of the Wild Card series.

    Coming into the series. 24-year-old knew all too well about the 0-18 playoff losing streak that Twins fans had suffered through for the last 19 years. And if anyone was going to help the Twins break out of that losing streak, Lewis was the top choice to play the hero. After all, Lewis has been the one to be that hero throughout the season. Lewis has been the one coming through with big plays, clutch hits, and grand slams and never seeming to be afraid of a moment, no matter how big.

    It didn’t take long for Lewis to show the believers that their faith in the right-hander was well warranted. In the bottom of the first inning, a hobbling Royce Lewis labored his way into the batter’s box, forcing a full count, before turning on a Kevin Gausman four-seamer for a blast into the left field bleachers to give the Twins an early 2-0 lead. The home run set the tone early and energized a crowd that needed to see its hometown nine get off to a fast start, as an early deficit would have surely made Target Field go anxious and silent.

    As the game went on, though, it became pretty clear that this was going to be a close game and that the Twins could use some additional run support. After a trip through the order didn’t provide much of any offense, Lewis decided to take matters into his own hands once again, blasting another Gausman four-seamer, this time to the opposite field right-center, to put the Twins up 3-0 with a rolling Pablo López.

    In the end, Royce’s two home runs provided the only three runs contributed for the Minnesota Twins en route to their Tuesday win. Royce contributed .243 WPA (Win Probability Added) to the Twins efforts and played an enormous role in bringing a victory to Minnesota.

    While the stat line was impressive, what made the performance legendary was the context behind the stat line.

    We all know about the 0-18: the heartbreak, the missed calls, the underwhelming performances. The Minnesota fanbase has suffered more than any other fanbase in baseball over the past twenty years and has been waiting for a player to step up, say "no more" and end the streak. This fanbase was waiting for a player who not only was unafraid by the big moment but one who reveled in the big moment, demanded the bat in those scenarios and delivered when the moment was the biggest. And for that player to be one who has overcome as much as Lewis has overcome makes the legendary status all that much more impressive.

    Lewis overcame two ACL tears, overcame a late-season hamstring injury, overcame proclamations of a bust of a number one overall pick, and so much more.

    Royce Lewis is still just 24 years old. He still has an entire postseason in 2023 and an entire career to play out. But tonight, Royce Lewis ended the longest playoff losing streak in professional sports history. He grabbed the giant gorilla off of the back of the entire Minnesota fanbase and threw it into the Mighty Mississippi. Tonight, Royce Lewis put his name up there with the greatest legends in Minnesota Twins history.

    And he's just getting started.

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    11 minutes ago, LeatherAntenna said:

    Was interesting that A-Rod was complementary of Lewis except when he said just after the second HR the Twins must be getting tipped off.  If true where were the rest of the HRs by all the others?

    I don't know if Gausman was tipping pitches, or if they took the approach of laying off anything that started out low.

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    Royce is the type of leader the team has needed for years.  I find it interesting they interviewed Buck after the game and he was talking about how Royce will go out there no matter what.  This coming from a guy that has missed half his MLB games in his career due to many different injuries.  Royce has missed plenty too, but Royce strikes me as the type that will go out limping to the plate if the team would let him.  He even mentioned the Kirk Gibson moment. 

    Royce has been the one that has helped develop many of the celebrations.  He is always happy to be playing, and is upset only when he cannot play. Someone compared him to Puckett a few weeks ago, and he is as close to Puckett in terms of a leader we have had since him.  Yes, he is young, and this was only 1 game, but he has shown no moment is too big for him, and he will tell the team to jump on his back if needed.  

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    They stayed away from his split finger fastball which just dives and normally induces a LOT of swings and misses.  Gausman was pitching from behind in the count, running uphill from the first at bat with Julien.  Twins hitters had a good scouting report/game plan and it worked.

    I've been saying in conversations about what our post season roster would/should look like that Royce Lewis is the "X" factor.  The kid just has a knack, kind of like Kirby Puckett did.  Hopefully Royce's hammy can hold up through the post season.  I sure hop they win today because I'm not sure I trust Ryan to win a game #3 if needed.  

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    59 minutes ago, LeatherAntenna said:

    Was interesting that A-Rod was complementary of Lewis except when he said just after the second HR the Twins must be getting tipped off.  If true where were the rest of the HRs by all the others?

    AROD is nothing , but a clown and to be honest I thought this was one of the worst teams that have covered a game period.

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    The Twins did the same thing to Gausman earlier in the year. He’s a two pitch pitcher and they sit on one of the two and spit on the other. If A Rod did his homework he would see that this played out just like before instead of spouting off about stuff he has no idea is true. 

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    A legend in his own time ...

    Outstanding game Lewis had considering he had not seen  live pitching for over two weeks  , special player all around  that's for sure  ...

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    There's no question Royce Lewis will be a fan-favorite if he can stay healthy. He plays with such joy and enthusiasm that you can't help but smile. I just hope he can stay healthy and have the kind of career to match his talent. (sadly, there are a lot of fans who will turn on him if he can't stay healthy as if injuries are a personal moral failing on his part)

    This is why he was drafted number 1. Looking forward to seeing much much more of Royce!

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    If you look at teams that succeed in the postseason, there is almost always that unexpected hero that emerges. For us who have watched this team this year, Lewis delivering on the big stage is maybe not totally unexpected but the rest of the world is waiting for someone like Correa to be the hero (in fairness to Correa, that throw he made to the plate was a thing of true beauty). Congratulations to Royce Lewis on his performance yesterday.

    Lewis was certainly the hero of the moment but this was a team effort. Lopez kept them in the game, the previously mentioned Correa play keeping a run off the board, Jax getting out of a little bit of a jam in the 8th, Duran throwing five curveballs in a row before unleashing that 100+ mph fastball making the three Toronto hitters he faced look silly.

    I hope this team wins a few more games. The main mission (win a playoff game) has been accomplished. Hopefully, they can add some icing to the cake today by winning the series.

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    To me Royce played the biggest role in breaking the streak, all the setbacks and hurdles but he just comes up and hits the floor running.  He turned the offense around mid season, just took the reigns as a rookie and ran with it.  Obviously the grand slams are not sustainable but the clutch hitting and the attitude are. 

    Its nebulous and everyone contributes, the starting pitching is by far the best it has been, the pen is a weapon, the bench contains a lot of pinch hitting/ running opportunities, ect.

    But Royce Lewis embodies the streak so well as a top prospect that dealt with multiple injuries plus the lost covid year, now the hamstring right as the playoffs happen.  He still keeps coming back every time and producing like he was never away, he plays with an intensity.

    He was the offense in the streak breaking game, 2nd game he had them scared and pitching around him. 

    Royce Lewis is the ****ing man, and he is a Twin.

    Bring on the Lewis/ Correa/ Lee/ Kiriloff infield. 

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