Past precedent was not on the Twins’ side in Saturday’s 7-4 win over Cleveland.
The team entered the evening with a 7-16 (.304) record against opponents with a record of .500 or better, markedly worse than its .407 mark against sub-.500 clubs. The Indians were 28-23 going into their loss, one game out of first place in the AL Central.
Even worse, the Indians’ starter, Mike Tomlin, was 2-2 going into the game. The Twins have fared poorly this season against starting pitchers with records of .500 or better; they entered Saturday with a record of 5-18 (.217) against them.
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And, to top it all off, Minnesota has been even worse against teams with records of .500 or better when their starters have records of .500 or better, which was the situation Ron Gardenhire’s club faced Saturday. In those situations, the team was 2-10 (.167) before Saturday’s win.
Really, this didn’t seem good, especially not after Friday’s 7-1 drubbing.
Although the game began in with a flurry of Twins offense – four first-inning runs gave starter P.J. Walters a cushion, but with each passing inning, the outlook became a bit more worrisome. Walters allowed a run in the first inning and one more each in the third, fourth and fifth, when Jason Kipnis scored on a Michael Brantley single to tie the game.
The four-run lead was gone, and the Twins had only once before this season squandered that large of a lead and gone on to win. Even in that game, a May 16 contest against Detroit, the lead was gone by the second inning, giving the Twins more time to recover.
So they rarely win against winning teams, even less against winning pitchers, even less when a winning team starts a winning pitcher. They don’t often come back after blowing four-run leads, but here are the Twins with their 19th win in spite of facing all of those circumstances on Saturday.
Here are the Twins, with their scorecard boasting a Joe Mauer home run and a Trevor Plouffe multi-hit night. The former has happened only three times this season, the latter twice. Here are the Twins, watching as their bullpen held its opponent scoreless and got a win for just the fourth time this season.
That’s why we watch baseball. We watch because the things that rarely happen are still possibilities. We watch so Ben Revere can reach base on a strikeout and then make a catch in left field that involves a sprint and a flip just minutes later. We watch because when the AL’s worst team blows a lead to one of its best, it can still redeem itself.