After handing the undefeated Kansas City Royals their first two losses of the season, it seemed like the Minnesota Twins came back down to earth against the Cleveland Indians and reigning Cy Young award winner Corey Kluber.
Then the sixth inning happened.
Kluber was perfect through five innings before Oswaldo Arcia led off the inning with a simple base hit, then Cleveland would proceed to meltdown defensively; something that Twins fans saw far too much of in the first seven games of the season.
Arcia advanced to second base on a wild pitch and Chris Herrmann drove him in with a single, advancing to second base on a throwing error. After a Jordan Schafer base hit moved Herrmann to third, Danny Santana laid down a bunt and Kluber, who fielded the ball, decided to throw home; Herrman had stayed on third, never trying to advance home and now the bases were loaded.
Herrman would later score on another wild pitch and the Twins had tied the game at two, mostly due to the Indians defensive struggles. These were the only two runs surrendered by Kluber in his eight innings on the hill.
Minnesota went on to win 3-2 thanks to a Trevor Plouffe walk-off home run in the 11th inning and the Twins now own the longest active winning streak in the American League. It’s weird to think that the Twins, who were outscored 45-16 as they limped to a 1-6 start, could possibly own the longest active win streak in the league and what’s even more impressive is how good these wins have been.
With an undefeated Royals team in the opposing dugout, Minnesota tore off two straight wins behind great outings from starting pitchers Kyle Gibson and Tommy Milone as well as timely offense from a number of players. With the offense struggling against the reigning Cy Young winner last night, Minnesota once again got a strong start on the mound, this one coming unexpectedly from Mike Pelfrey, who still hasn’t won a game since August 2013.
The Twins were bad, bordering on un-watchable, for the first week of the young season, but the last few games have been exciting and Minnesota is suddenly fun to watch again. There is no reason to believe that this team can’t keep the streak alive.
Cleveland is sending 25-year-old Danny Salazar to the hill today, marking his first start of the year and that might be making a lot of people in the Twins clubhouse smile.
Minnesota batters have hit a combined .319 (22-for-69) against Salazar. Brian Dozier has had the most success against him, collecting seven hits including three doubles and a home run. Arcia, with a smaller sample size, is batting .600 (3-for-5) against Salazar and has also drawn two walks. Plouffe, last night’s walkoff hero, has also homered off Salazar.