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May saves Twins after late rally on record night

Schoop, Castro go back-to-back to raise club mark for first-half HRs
@dohyoungpark
June 12, 2019

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins gave away "Bomba Squad" T-shirts at Target Field on Tuesday night to recognize the club's homer-hitting prowess, and the lineup marked the occasion by mashing two more homers to set a franchise record for long balls before the All-Star break. But no "bombas" were necessary in

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins gave away "Bomba Squad" T-shirts at Target Field on Tuesday night to recognize the club's homer-hitting prowess, and the lineup marked the occasion by mashing two more homers to set a franchise record for long balls before the All-Star break.

But no "bombas" were necessary in a go-ahead rally against the Mariners' bullpen in the eighth inning, when the Twins' three-run comeback was capped by a run-scoring wild pitch and an RBI single by Marwin Gonzalez as Minnesota stormed back for a 6-5 win to open the three-game series.

Box score

Though Seattle starter Mike Leake had largely shut down the Twins through seven innings, baseball's most powerful lineup got right to work when the bullpen took over in the eighth.

With the Twins down, 5-3, reliever Brandon Brennan allowed a line-drive double to Max Kepler into the right-field corner, and reliever Trevor May, who was preparing in the home bullpen to pitch the ninth inning, could see the ensuing rally coming.

"After that leadoff double, I was just like, 'We're going to take the lead,'" May said.

Jorge Polanco followed with an RBI double -- his third hit of the game -- and Nelson Cruz drew a walk before Brennan was pulled in favor of Austin Adams. A deep flyout moved Polanco to third, setting up the game-tying wild pitch. Gonzalez then got a 1-1 fastball and punched it through the right side for the two-out, go-ahead hit.

"I wanted to contribute to the team," Gonzalez said. "I wasn't able to touch a ball all night. I went up and put extra focus on that at-bat, and I got a hit."

The rally gave the Twins their second victory of the year in which they had trailed after seven innings and their 13th come-from-behind win of the season.

“We went out there in the later innings and I think continued to have the good quality at-bats that we've had the whole game, and it kind of broke out," manager Rocco Baldelli said.

Relievers May, Magill show off resilience
With Taylor Rogers unavailable on Tuesday with back stiffness, May was entrusted with the ninth inning -- which he quickly realized would become a save situation once he saw the Twins' offense hum to life as he warmed up in the eighth inning.

"He's been throwing the ball really well," Baldelli said. "I think he's earned that spot."

May got off to a rocky start in his first save situation of the year, allowing singles to Mallex Smith and Domingo Santana, but he stayed aggressive with the fastball that averaged 96 mph, catching Edwin Encarnacion looking on a borderline 3-2 fastball to record the first out and swing the momentum in his favor.

From there, he induced a popup from Daniel Vogelbach and pounded Kyle Seager with fastballs through an eight-pitch battle until he finally triumphed when Seager lofted a shallow fly ball to end the game.

"From what I saw, there were some defensive swings," May said. "That's what I felt comfortable doing, and I was just going to go right after 'em. That has served me well, pitching with super conviction in my heater."

May wasn't the only one who buckled down in a big spot; Matt Magill worked a clean eighth inning, a welcome turn for the reliever, who had allowed 10 runs (nine earned) in 1 2/3 innings across his three most recent appearances prior to Tuesday night. Magill earned his first win of the season after setting down the side in order on 12 pitches.

"We see Matty when he's around the zone and making pitches and putting the ball where he wants -- it's a difficult at-bat for most hitters," Baldelli said. "It's not a fun at-bat, I can promise you that. So he went out there and did everything that you could ask him to do."

Another day, another home run record
Jonathan Schoop and Jason Castro hit back-to-back shots in the fourth inning for Minnesota's 126th and 127th homers of the season, breaking the first-half record of 125 set by the 1964 Twins -- with 24 games remaining before the baseball season's de facto halfway point.

The Major League record for first-half homers belongs to the 2018 Yankees, who hit 161 before the Midsummer Classic. The Twins are currently on pace for 174 in the half and a record-breaking 317 over the course of a full 162-game season.

"I don't know if all of the guys in there know all of those accolades," Baldelli said. "They've earned them all. Every guy in there has played a part in this."

Do-Hyoung Park covers the Twins for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @dohyoungpark and on Instagram at dohyoung.park.