Twins storm back after Duffey's lone hiccup
Rookie rolls until 7th-inning HR; hopes for Wild Card start
CLEVELAND -- After giving up a go-ahead two-run homer to Roberto Perez on his 102nd and final pitch of the night, Twins rookie right-hander Tyler Duffey slumped over near the mound.
He had tossed 6 1/3 scoreless innings before the homer, keeping the Twins in a must-win game against the Indians. But even though Duffey was frustrated with himself after leaving a 3-1 fastball over the plate, he still believed his team could come back given their resolve this season. Duffey proved to be correct, as the Twins went on to tie it in the eighth before scoring twice in the ninth to come away with a dramatic 4-2 win that kept their postseason hopes alive.
It moved the resilient Twins into to a tie with the Angels and one game back of the Astros for the second American League Wild Card spot, with three games remaining against the Royals this weekend.
"I gave up the lead and I knew we weren't going to roll over," Duffey said. "I knew we weren't going to quit. So it was a lot of fun."
Danny Santana started the rally in the eighth with an unlikely pinch-hit walk with one out, as he had drawn just five walks in 271 plate appearances this season. The Twins went with a hit-and-run with Eduardo Escobar at the plate and he came through with a game-tying RBI double down the left-field line.
The Twins took the lead against closer Cody Allen in a wild ninth that saw Jose Ramirez commit an error with one out before Eddie Rosario singled to right to move pinch-runner Eduardo Nunez to third with Rosario going to second on the throw. With Torii Hunter at the plate, Allen uncorked a wild pitch on a 2-2 curveball to score Nunez before Hunter gave the Twins an insurance run with a sacrifice fly to right.
It helped give Minnesota life heading into the crucial series against the Royals, and Hunter likes the Twins' odds after they went 5-2 on their road trip through Detroit and Cleveland.
"I love our chances being a game back with three games to go," Hunter said. "All we wanted was a chance to compete and make the postseason. We've given ourselves a chance right now. This team has fought all year and we overcame a lot of odds, so I'm excited."
The Twins wouldn't have been able to come back late if it weren't for another strong outing from Duffey, who gave up two runs over 6 1/3 innings. Since struggling in his Major League debut in Toronto, Duffey has posted a 2.25 ERA in nine starts. He's thrown a combined 196 innings after throwing 149 2/3 last year, but if the Twins advance, he said he's ready to start in the AL Wild Card Game, presented by Budweiser.
"I'd be excited," Duffey said. "That's all I could ever hope for. Whatever happens in the next three days, it's not all up to me, but if I get a chance to start again, I'm 100 percent going to do it."