KANSAS CITY -- Over the course of a 162-game season, only a few games stick out from all the rest. For the Twins, Sunday’s improbable 7-6 comeback victory over the Royals figures to be at or near the top of the golden memory list.
Trailing 6-0 entering the eighth, the Twins pulled off the great escape. They rallied for five runs in that inning and then got two more in the ninth to end their six-game road trip with a bang and leave Kansas City with a sweep.
Manager Rocco Baldelli compared it to a rolling snowball that was getting bigger and bigger. A flurry of quality at-bats against what has been a strong Kansas City bullpen this season resulted in Gio Urshela at the plate in the ninth against hard-throwing Josh Staumont with the game tied at 6-6.
Urshela lined an RBI single to center, capping Minnesota’s seven-run rally over the final two innings.
“That’s one that is not going to escape my mind for a long time,” Baldelli said. “They had all their good arms out there. The guys just kept fighting and the at-bats were excellent. You don’t see games like that too often. It’s one that I think I’ll always remember in some shape or form.”
The Twins had gone scoreless off Kansas City starter Brady Singer through seven innings. When the Royals put up a five-run rally in the sixth, it appeared that Minnesota would have to settle for a 4-2 road trip.
But the Twins got busy in a hurry after Singer was lifted. They rattled four straight hits off Taylor Clarke to score two and spell him from the game, but the Royals still had their strongest bullpen pieces left in Scott Barlow and Staumont.
Barlow came on and appeared to calm the waters by retiring the first two men he faced. It was 6-3 when Kyle Garlick provided the second big push with a two-run homer that made it a one-run game.
“It was the grit that we showed,” Garlick said. “Never give up and keep grinding.”
Although they left the bases loaded trailing 6-5 in the eighth, the Twins could feel it. Jorge Polanco led off the ninth with a walk against Staumont and Max Kepler doubled. Gary Sánchez produced a sacrifice fly to tie it before Urshela put Minnesota ahead after coming off the bench to play third in the eighth.
“There was good energy in the dugout,” Urshela said. “I was getting ready the last three innings, just waiting for the opportunity.”
Baldelli lauded the at-bat by Urshela against Staumont, a pitcher with a 100-mph fastball and some quality secondary pitches as well.
“He stayed with it, used the middle of the field,” Baldelli said. “He wasn’t swinging for all of it. He was swinging for the chance to win the ballgame.”
Once the Twins got the momentum, there was no turning back.
Twins starter Bailey Ober, who pitched well in his return from the injured list, watched it all unfold after working five innings and allowing just one run.
“We kept stringing things together,” Ober said. “It was awesome.”