Twins pounce with wild rally in six-run eighth
Club-record eight walks in inning fuel crazy comeback in nightcap
MINNEAPOLIS -- It was as crazy of a comeback as anyone in the Twins clubhouse could remember.
The Twins entered the eighth inning down by two runs but rallied for six runs, with the first three coming on wild pitches, to shock the Blue Jays with a 9-5 win to sweep Thursday's doubleheader at Target Field.
The Twins drew a franchise-record eight walks in the inning -- the most by any Major League club since the Rangers did it on April 19, 1996 -- and had just one hit, but it was more than enough to complete the come-from-behind victory.
"It was probably the wildest eighth inning you'll ever see in your life," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We had bodies running everywhere and pitches flying all over the plate. I don't know how many hitters we had go up there without getting a hit before we finally got one. So it was a nice comeback win for us to win two of three against this good team."
Right-hander Steve Delabar was the first Blue Jays reliever to struggle with his control, issuing walks to Josmil Pinto and Chris Herrmann to open the inning before Eduardo Nunez moved up both runners with a sacrifice bunt.
Blue Jays closer Sergio Santos came in, but he also had trouble finding the strike zone, as he walked pinch-hitter Trevor Plouffe to load the bases with one out. Pinch-hitter Kurt Suzuki came to the plate, and Santos uncorked two run-scoring wild pitches to allow the Twins to tie the game.
Santos then threw a third wild pitch on his sixth offering to Brian Dozier, which allowed the go-ahead run to score and Dozier to reach via the fifth walk of the inning.
"We knew Santos threw sliders more than fastballs, and after he spiked a couple fastballs early, he went straight to throwing sliders, which is tough to do," Dozier said. "It's tough to command. It's more of his strikeout pitch, but he kept throwing it and we kept taking it."
Left-hander J.A. Happ came in and promptly walked Joe Mauer to load the bases before issuing a run-scoring free pass to Chris Colabello for the seventh walk of the inning. Jason Kubel then laced a two-run single to give the Twins a four-run cushion. Pinto followed with the inning's eighth base on balls, but Herrmann struck out and Nunez grounded out to end the inning.
"We just couldn't throw strikes, we didn't pitch very good all series," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "We were in a position to win that one and we coughed it up."
It was unlikely win for the Twins, who saw right-hander Mike Pelfrey turn in his third straight subpar start after right-hander Kyle Gibson tossed eight scoreless innings to lead Minnesota to a 7-0 win in Game 1.
Pelfrey struggled with his command from the start, walking two of the first three batters he faced. Both walks led to runs, as the Blue Jays received an RBI single from Edwin Encarnacion and a sacrifice fly from Dioner Navarro.
He settled down until running into more trouble in the fifth. He served a solo homer to Jose Bautista with one out to give Bautista his American League-leading sixth homer of the season. It was also Bautista's 11th career homer at Target Field, which is the most for any opponent.
After the homer, Pelfrey walked Encarnacion before giving up a single to Navarro that knocked him from the game, with right-hander Samuel Deduno taking over on the mound. Deduno got Brett Lawrie to hit a shallow fly ball to right field but Herrmann couldn't handle it, despite a sliding attempt, to bring home a run.
Anthony Gose followed with a walk to load the bases before Ryan Goins hit a dribbler back to Deduno, who flubbed it and couldn't get the out at home as another run scored. The unearned run was charged to Pelfrey, who gave up five runs (four earned) on four hits and five walks. Pelfrey now has a 7.98 ERA on the year and has walked 12 batters in 14 2/3 innings.
"I was bad again," Pelfrey said. "In the first inning you can't give up a single and two runs. That's terrible. I obviously haven't been very good, and this isn't how I envisioned it starting. But I'm going to be better."
Right-hander Dustin McGowan also struggled for the Blue Jays, giving up three runs on six hits and four walks over four-plus innings.
The Twins scored in a hurry against McGowan with Dozier launching a shot to lead off the first inning. It was Dozier's team-leading fifth homer of the year.
Minnesota didn't score again until the fifth, when Dozier singled and Mauer walked to set the stage for a two-run double down the left-field line from Colabello that forced McGowan from the game.
But the Twins stayed in the game thanks to strong bullpen performances from Deduno and Casey Fien to set the stage for their wild comeback in the eighth. Colabello credited the Twins for their patient approach at the plate, as they lead the Majors in walks this season and are now above .500 at 8-7 for the first time this year.
"It was just a combination of guys having good at-bats and not trying to do too much," said Colabello, who leads the AL with 19 RBIs and the Majors with nine doubles. "It's easy in that situation to get too amped up and go after pitches out of the zone. But it was obviously an awesome approach by everyone."