Minnesota Twins Game Grades: Make it Three in a Row!

Apr 16, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Twins left fielder Oswaldo Arcia (31) celebrates after hitting a home run in the eighth inning against the Los Angeles Angels at Target Field. The Twins won 6-4. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 16, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Twins left fielder Oswaldo Arcia (31) celebrates after hitting a home run in the eighth inning against the Los Angeles Angels at Target Field. The Twins won 6-4. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports /

Minnesota Twins Make Their Own Breaks in 3rd Straight Win

The game winning RBI hasn’t been kept as a stat since 1988, but Oswaldo Arcia unofficially has two straight GWRBI against the Los Angeles Angels. After yesterday’s tie-breaking home run in the 8th inning, today he singled home Byron Buxton in the bottom of the 12th inning to secure Minnesota’s third consecutive win after opening the season 0-9.

Everything seemed to be going against the Twins. They finally got what looked to be a clutch hit with a runner in scoring position with two outs, but Eduardo Nunez was thrown out at home after Joe Mauer‘s single in the 7th inning. Rookie Rafael Ortega was playing extremely shallow in left field, charged immediately after the ball was hit, and his throw was on line and in time to get Nunez at the plate, keeping the Angels ahead 2-1.

The air seemed to escape Target Field after that surprise out. But the Twins’ pitchers didn’t relent. Even the beleaguered Casey Fien was stout. In the next half inning, he had to face the Angels heart of the order. Other than a walk to Trout, Fien escaped the inning without a run.

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In the bottom of the 8th, Miguel Sano whizzed a sharp single past the pitcher, and was immediately pinch-ran for by Byron Buxton. He looked to have had the chance to score on a single by Trevor Plouffe, but with no outs, third base coach Gene Glynn held up Buxton. He scored when Arcia smashed into a double play to tie the game at 2.

Reliever Kevin Jepsen held service in the top of the 9th, retiring the Angels in order. Twins loaded the bases in the bottom of the 9th, but Buxton’s smash into the hole was corralled by shortstop Andrelton Simmons who made the force throw to third to end that Twins threat.

There were no threats by the Angels in the later innings. In fact, after the first inning in which the Angels recorded two of their 4 hits (and a 2 run HR by Albert Pujols), only a two-out single by Mike Trout in the third inning could justify as a “threat.”

Trevor May made quick work of the Angels in the 10th inning, striking out two. Twins followed suit with a quick bottom of the inning. Reliever Michael Tonkin, who looked to be in trouble to even make the final 25 after a disastrous Spring Training, blew the Angels away in the 11th and 12th, recording 4 strikeouts. His fastball reached 96 on strike three to Pujols.

Finally, in the bottom of the 12th, Joe Mauer walked on 4 pitches by reliever Cory Rasmus. After Buxton failed to bunt Mauer over to second (replay appeared to show Simmons’ foot wasn’t on the bag at 2nd, but play was upheld), the Angels called upon their last man left in the bullpen, All-Star closer Huston Street.

Street induced a fly out to Eddie Rosario and then the Twins decided to force the issue. With two outs, Buxton stole second and Target Field awoke again. Then Arcia, showing growth and discipline at the plate, slapped an outside pitch to the left field corner easily driving home the speedy Buxton.

2. Final. 2. 102. 3

A-. 13 hits, 2 walks, 6 strikeouts, 1 hit batter, and 3 for 11 with runners in scoring position. Arcia followed up yesterday’s game winner with another, plus 3 more hits today. Twins kept pressure on Angels all day, with runners on base multiple scoring opportunities.. . Oswaldo Arcia. OFFENSE

A-. Totals for Gibson: 4 hits allowed, 2 walks, 1 home runs and 4 strikeouts. Shut down and shut out Angels after first inning. Quality start, first win still to come. . . . STARTERS

RELIEVERS . A+. Team relief totals: 5 innings, 0 hits allowed, 1 walk, and 7 strikeouts. May’s strikeouts were understandable. Tonkin blowing away Trout & Pujols? Not so much. . . Michael Tonkin

A-. Twins made 1 error today, but that could have been over-ruled by replay if the Twins wanted to challenge as Mauer looked to tag runner going by. Even though that error was charged to Plouffe, he made several nice plays in field, and has learned to charge bunts and make bare-handed throw like a Gold-Glover. Nice pick and throw on Ortega’s bunt. May have come with a cost, however. . . Trevor Plouffe. DEFENSE

MVT: Oswaldo Arcia – After yesterday’s thunder stolen by Byung-ho Park, Arcia deserves this for his 3 hits and game-winning RBI.

The Minnesota Twins will begin interleague play with a split four game set against the Milwaukee Brewers. The first two games will be played at Target Field, the last two at Miller Park. The game will be broadcast on FSN. First pitch at 7:10 PM. Phil Hughes tries for third time for win #1. Opposing pitcher, Chase Anderson, has started 2 games, pitched 11 innings without giving up an earned run.

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Trevor Plouffe was diagnosed with an intercostal strain (muscles between ribs) after the game. Trevor said that he has felt this coming on for a “few days.” Feels like he shouldn’t need to be placed on DL. Hot-hitting Eduardo Nunez may see his first starts at 3B for the Milwaukee Series.