Twins almost coming back down 13-5 vs. Astros is the type of stuff that will pay off later

Minnesota might not have won now, but it’s hard to not see the ninth inning surge on Friday as a long-term victory.
Houston Astros v Minnesota Twins
Houston Astros v Minnesota Twins / David Berding/GettyImages

Morale victories are super lame, but what the Minnesota Twins did on Friday night against the Astros feels much different from that.

To be clear, the Twins did not win, as Houston crushed Pablo Lopez before tossing Josh Winder and Kody Funderburk into an active volcano. It was a tough game for Minnesota pitching but the offense came to life in such a way that it almost made up for every mistake made on the mound.

One stark difference between this season and last is that the Twins have shown a gritiness that was sorely lacking when the going got tough. How many times did Sonny Gray or Pablo Lopez pitch a gem only to have their few mistakes end up being the difference? That fell on the offense’s lack of ability to generate anything, something that hasn’t been the case this year.

Even by the Twins’ standard for clawing back into games this season, Friday night was absolutely bonkers.

Minnesota headed into the ninth inning trailing Houston by eight runs, and ended up losing by one. Rather than roll over like the team had done so many times before in a similar situations, the Twins batted around and scored seven runs, including a grand slam by Carlos Correa that cut Houston’s lead to just a single run.

Everything was clicking for the Twins, despite the gravity of the situation heading into the ninth inning. Max Kepler, Byron Buxton, and Brooks Lee all reached base with two outs, while Christian Vazquez fought off a nine pitch at-bat to launch a ground rule double that helped bat in a run.

Austin Martin got the rally going with a one out single, while Lee, who is just three games into his big league career, looked like a calm and seasoned veteran at the plate. The fact that the young players looked as confident as veterans like Buxton and Correa is something that feels a lot bigger and more important than whether the Twins were able to come back and win.

Twins nearly coming back from down 13-5 is a clear sign this team is built different than before

The fact that they came so close, and the effort was so collective, feels like a major long-term victory. It’s not just Friday’s game against the Astros that has these vibes out there, it’s the way the Twins ahve been fighting back all season long in situations they’d normally fold like a cheap picnic table.

Just a day prior the Twins fell into a 3-0 hole to the Detroit Tigers in just two innings. Rather than cower, Minnesota exploded for 12 unanswered runs to win the game. That’s a theme that has been developing over the course of the season ever since the team pulled itself out of an early slump.

Since starting 7-13, the Twins offense has done a complete about face that has been one of the most satisfying plot twists to watch unfold. All the makings were there for a summer slump like we saw last year, but instead Minnesota has found a way to course correct in a way that will undoubtedly pay off when it truly counts.

The Twins have been able to establish a won’t-quit-grit as a central part of the team’s identity, which might not seem impressive against the A’s and Tigers but adds up when we see it happen the way it did on Friday against a team like the Astros.

There’s still a lot of season left to play, but there’s already a different vibe around this Twins team and what happened in the ninth inning on Friday is something that is going to pay off much later when the stakes are a lot higher.

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