MINNEAPOLIS -- The rally squirrel had its place atop the dugout railing. The Twins’ players stood near the railing, ready to jump over and celebrate another extra-inning victory in a magical season.
Minnesota was so sure it had another comeback in place that many players even inadvertently jumped the dugout railing on LaMonte Wade Jr.’s single in the 12th inning. The Twins only had to wait three more pitches.
In improbable fashion, Minnesota beat the Chicago White Sox, 9-8, in 12 innings on Tuesday night after Chicago reliever José Ruiz hit Ronald Torreyes with a pitch with the bases loaded. It was the second comeback in extra innings for the Twins, who kept their lead over Cleveland in the American League Central at five games and reduced their magic number to win the division to seven.
“There is no quit in this group,” Minnesota manager Rocco Baldelli said. “What a group. There's not a lot of words for that. You had to experience that game and feel it, and go through it and feel the ups and downs. It would have been easy to just end the game, go up and take three big swings or whatever, a few outs and it would have been over because it was a long and not an easy game.
“That's not what our group is about, and that's not what they do. They went out and had some really impressive at-bats over and over again and put ourselves in a spot to give ourselves a chance to actually win that game, and we did. We found a way.”
The Twins have been finding a way all season, but Tuesday’s victory might be hard to surpass.
Minnesota led 5-0 in the third inning after Miguel Sanó’s projected 482-foot home run to the third deck in left-center field, making the Twins the first team in MLB history with five players to tally at least 30 home runs in the season. Sanó’s 30th home run allowed him to join teammates Nelson Cruz, Max Kepler, Eddie Rosario and Mitch Garver in the 30-homer club.
The White Sox climbed back into the game, though, forcing extra innings. Twice, Chicago appeared ready to play spoiler for one night. Tim Anderson homered in the top of the 11th. Minnesota came back to scratch a run across when Garver’s sacrifice fly to center field scored pinch-runner Wade.
Wade pinch-ran for Jonathan Schoop, who started the bottom of the 11th with a single. Wade went to second on a groundout and then alertly took third base on a wild pitch by Alex Colomé. He scored on Garver’s fly to medium center when Leury García elected not to throw home.
“I saw the ball out of the hand, and the ball was down,” Wade said of the wild pitch. “It kicked off a little bit. I thought it kicked off a little further than it did, but once I got that far, no hesitation, or else you’d get out. So I just kept going, and I went with it, and luckily I got there.”
Ryan Cordell hit a two-run homer in the 12th to give the White Sox another lead. But the Twins had another comeback in them.
Cruz singled and Rosario doubled to right. Marwin Gonzalez tied the game with a two-run single. Luis Arraez singled for his third hit of the game before Wade followed with another single. Third-base coach Tony Diaz held Gonzalez at third as García’s throw was cut off in the middle of the diamond.
"I said to all the guys, 'Hey, let's go up there and take good at-bats,’” Rosario said. “Everything happened that way. Nelson had a very good at-bat, I hit a double. After my double, I think the team got back in it and felt comfortable to win this game."
Torreyes, the September call-up playing in just his third game for Minnesota, was then hit by the pitch, setting off a celebration as teammates ran onto the field.
“I think every guy in that clubhouse has kind of proven it to the next guy, kind of what we are and what we've done,” Baldelli said. “We've had a lot of games like this. We went through a long stretch of time where we played a bunch of games like this. At no point did our team roll over, ever. We wouldn't expect to do that now.
“I think we're playing some of our best baseball of the year right now. Am I surprised by what I just saw? No. Is it probably statistically improbable what we just saw? Maybe a little bit. But I'm not surprised from our group. I'm not surprised from our guys one bit.”