Donaldson now the Bringer of ... Robes?

Third baseman's plush playoff gift inspires Bomba Squad in extras

September 23rd, 2020

MINNEAPOLIS -- can likely claim two titles in the Minnesota Twins' clubhouse: king of monster homers and team dad (to , at least).

Never have those dad vibes been stronger than on Tuesday night, when Cruz enjoyed a day off in style, prowling the dugout in a thick, fuzzy, navy blue robe emblazoned with his name and jersey number. The 40-year-old designated hitter and known nap connoisseur certainly took full advantage of the team gift from fellow veteran , who gave matching robes to teammates and Twins support staff before Minnesota’s 5-4, walk-off win in the 10th inning on Tuesday.

And what good would a team dad be without trying to start a wholesome family tradition?

When cruised around the bases following a leadoff homer, the second of his career, Cruz was waiting in the dugout to drape the robe over Buxton before the center fielder went through the high-five line to celebrate. Three innings later, when cranked his second blast of the season, Cruz again stood ready with the robe to reward Garver's efforts. When tied the game with a clutch solo shot in the eighth? The robe awaited.

Finally, when scampered home with the winning run on Kepler’s walk-off single in the 10th inning, capping a come-from-behind rally, Cruz sprinted out to Kepler with the robe and draped it carefully over the shoulders of the hero amid the frenzied celebration. A fitting end.

“I got to wear it twice today,” Kepler said. “I hope we keep it going because it brought some luck today.”

According to a report by FOX Sports North, Donaldson's gift was meant to help everyone stay comfortable as the club entered its playoff quarantine at a local hotel following Tuesday’s game. Perhaps it’ll also help the Twins get comfortable at the top of the division.

The robe-fueled bombas helped the Twins take advantage of Cleveland’s walk-off win over the White Sox on Tuesday night. Coupled with the Twins’ win, Chicago’s lead in the American League Central is down to a half-game.

“We’re going to let our bats and pitching do the talking, and whatever happens, happens,” Buxton said. “Obviously, with the scoreboard behind us, there’s a few glances in between the pitching changes, where you’re like, ‘All right. Let’s go. Keep this thing going.’ And it just worked out that way where Cleveland had a big game, and [we had] a big hit from Kep tonight to bring that ‘W’ here.”

The White Sox hold the tiebreaker over the Twins for the division crown by virtue of their superior record within the division, but Minnesota is quickly closing ground as the Sox face more tough matchups against Cleveland and the Cubs. If the Twins were to swipe the AL Central crown, they could, in all likelihood, avoid the Yankees in the Wild Card Series.

For most of the night, the Twins certainly looked at ease playing in their home environment, with clutch escapes from relievers that will be relied upon in the postseason, crisp defensive plays and timely hits keeping Minnesota from a tough loss to the fourth-place Tigers.

A rare 6-2-5 double play, started on ’s accurate throw home from his knees, helped erase a fourth-inning, bases-loaded jam that left on in his first start back from the injured list. threw a 95.1 mph laser to the plate in the fifth inning for his fifth outfield assist of the year.

Kepler’s game-tying solo blast in the eighth was a welcome sight for the Twins considering his OPS had dipped to .692 on Friday. He built on that when he followed Rosario’s game-tying RBI single and stolen base in the 10th by fighting off a blooper into left field to walk it off.

“I feel like a lot of at-bats this year, I’ve been feeling a lot of mechanics, and usually when I’m thinking about mechanics, the going is tough for me,” Kepler said. “Luckily, I had a clear mind. I’ve had a clear mind the last couple of games, thanks, I guess, to the work and belief from some people around me that are getting my spirits up.”

Will the ceremonial passing of the robe become a rallying cry in the Twins' dugout as the club eyes a deep run into October? Will Cruz's robe take its place next to Hebert the stuffed squirrel in the annals of Bomba Squad history?

At this rate, it very well might have to. The Twins are undefeated in the robe era, after all.

“When I saw it in the dugout, I wasn't expecting it,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “A little surprised. And then I'm like, 'Yeah. Why would we not wear a robe in the dugout?' I think it has a chance to stick. I think it does."

“Hell yeah, I want to try hitting homers [for the robe],” Rosario said. “Maybe tomorrow. Maybe the next day.”

Suffice to say that Cruz will likely be all too happy to pass his robe around the dugout if it means the Twins' home runs will carry through into the Wild Card Series next week. And if the Twins end up clinching the No. 4 seed in the American League and hosting the first round of the playoffs at Target Field, what better way to stay warm on a chilly October evening in Minneapolis?