On Saturday night, the Minnesota Twins squandered a seven-run lead against the Milwaukee Brewers on their way to an 8-7 loss. They got a chance to turn the tables on Sunday afternoon at Target Field, finding themselves staring at an early five-run deficit, and did just that as they came all the way back to defeat the Brewers 9-7.
The Twins actually got on the board first in this one, as Jim Thome blasted the 595th home run of his career, a solo shot to lead off the bottom of the second inning to give the Twins a 1-0 lead. The next few innings were all Brewers, as they battered around Twins' starter Nick Blackburn. Mark Kotsay led off the top of the third with a solo home run of his own, tying the score at 1-1.
The Brewers then threatened to blow it open in the top of the fourth, after a single by Nyjer Morgan (who went to third on Alexi Casilla's error), and a one-out intentional walk to Prince Fielder to put runners on the corners. The Brewers then put together four consecutive run-scoring hits. . .a double by Mat Gamel, an infield single by Yunieksy Betancourt, a two-run triple by Kotsay, and a single by Jonathan Lucroy. That made the score 6-1 in favor of the Brewers, and it was looking pretty bad for the home team.
Fortunes began to change in the bottom of the fourth, however, as the Twins once again came through with some clutch two-out hitting. After Joe Mauer and Michael Cuddyer were retired by Brewers' starter Zack Greinke, Thome drew a walk, and Danny Valencia doubled to put runners on second and third. Next up was French Resistance fighter Rene Tosoni (™ Twinkie Town), and he answered the call with a three-run homer to right field to narrow the gap to 6-4.
The Twins cut even further into the lead in the bottom of the fifth, courtesy of a Michael Cuddyer RBI single to make the score 6-5. However, in the top of the sixth, Brewers' shortstop Rickie Weeks snapped an 0-for-21 streak with a two-out, solo home run off of Anthony Swarzak (who relieved Blackburn to start the top of the fifth), and the score went to 7-5 in favor of the Brewers.
Minnesota's offense came up with more clutch hits in the bottom of the seventh, however. Greinke was lifted in favor of reliever Zach Braddock to start the inning, and didn't look like he was going to have much difficulty. After Tsuyoshi Nishioka grounded out to start the inning, Ben Revere drew a walk. Casilla flied out to center for the second out, but Joe Mauer singled to move Revere up to second and keep the inning alive. The Brewers lifted Braddock in favor of Kameron Loe, but Cuddyer then came through again with a single to score Revere and make the score 7-6. Thome then drew a walk to load the bases, and Danny Valencia came to the plate.
Valencia laced a single to left field, and Mark Kotsay badly misplayed the ball. It went off his glove and rolled all the way to the warning track. The result was a single and a two-base error on Kotsay, leaving Valencia standing on third, the bases cleared, and the Twins now holding a 9-7 lead.
After Joe Nathan pitched a 1-2-3 top of the eighth and the Twins went down in the bottom half, Matt Capps came on for the Twins in the top of the ninth, and the Target Field faithful showed their disapproval with a shower of boos, due to what happened at the end of Saturday night's contest. Weeks led off with a single for the Brewers, and after inducing a fielder's choice from Morgan, Capps allowed a single to Corey Hart to put runners on first and second with one out. Ron Gardenhire had seen enough, and pulled Capps from the game in favor of left-hander Glen Perkins. Perkins, who many feel should have a shot at the closer's role, did not disappoint, striking out Prince Fielder on three pitches for the second out, and striking out pinch-hitter Casey McGehee to end the ball game.
Phil Dumatrait, who pitched a 1-2-3 top of the seventh for the Twins, got credit for the victory. It was his first win of the 2011 season, evening his record at 1-1. Loe took the loss for the Brewers, dropping his record on the year to 2-7. The save for Perkins was the first of his Major League career.
The Twins will play an Independence Day matinee at Target Field on Monday afternoon, as the Tampa Bay Rays will come to town for a three-game series. First pitch on Monday afternoon is scheduled for 1:10 PM Central time. The Rays will give the ball to left-hander David Price (8-6, 3.43 ERA), while the Twins will counter with left Brian Duensing (5-7, 4.69 ERA).