Saturday, Sept. 5 — The Twins swept a doubleheader with Detroit at Target Field, Randy Dobnak (6-2) going five shutout innings in a 2-0 win and the Twins winning the second game 3-2 with runs in the sixth and seventh innings that wiped out a 2-1 Tiger lead. Jorge Polanco and Josh Donaldson homered in the first inning of the first game and Jake Cave drove in the tying run in the second game and Marwin Gonzalez the winning run. Polanco had five hits for the day. The wins pushed Minnesota to only a half game behind first-place Chicago. Donaldson, after two good games upon returning from the IL, was held out of the second game by manager Rocco Baldelli.
Sunday, Sept. 6 —Walkoff home runs are fairly commonplace, as are other walkoff hits. But it's rare to win a game when a batter hits a ball to the shortstop and then beats the throw to drive in the winning run. That's what Byron Buxton did in the ninth inning of a 4-3 win over the Tigers, putting on a show of sped rarely seen. Miguel Sano drove in a run earlier in the inning as the Twins scored twice to erase a 3-2 Detroit lead. Sano also homered off the second deck in left and had three hits among the team's seven. Kenta Maeda retired 18 batters in a row after giving up a homer to the first batter of the game but didn't get the win. He's 4-1 with a 2.72 ERA but could easily have two more wins. The Twins are 18-4 when scoring 4 runs or more.
Monday, Sept. 7 —The headline in the Monday Star Tribune about a 10-8 loss to Detroit on Sunday read "Bullpen blunders sink Twins." It was true that the bullpen gave up a 6-2 lead in the loss but there were plenty of other things to point to in a game that ended a five-game winning streak. The Twins scored four runs in the fifth inning to take a 6-2 lead but it should have at least been 7-2, Eddie Rosario running through a stop sign by third base coach Tony Diaz with NO outs and being tagged out at the plate. The Twins would have had at least one more run and still been batting. Then, after the inning was over, manager Rocco Baldelli pulled starter Rich Hill after only 77 pitches. Because the Twins faced three games in the next two days, I'd have left Hill in for another inning - the pitching staff is going to be stressed enough the way it is in the three games in two days. Baldelli, with starters Mitch Garver and Max Kepler on the injured list, held Nelson Cruz, Byron Buxton, Josh Donaldson and Marwin Gonzalez out of the lineup as he continues to, I think, rest players too much. Catcher Willians Astudillo also had a shaky day behind the plate. All in all, it was a bad loss and the Twins fell 1 1/2 games behind division-leading Cleveland.
Tuesday, Sept. 8 — Michael Pineda gave the pitching staff a boost with seven good innings yesterday in a 6-2 win over Detroit and a 4-1 series win. If he pitches the way he has in his first two starts, he might be the bellwether of the staff these last three weeks. He gave up only three hits and became the second starter to go at least seven innings this season. Eddie Rosario had another base-running blunder but also had a three-run double that put the Twins ahead 4-0 in the third inning. Rookie catcher Ryan Jeffers, who has looked solid defensively, hit his first major league home run. The team is without No. 1 catcher Mitch Garver and No. 2 catcher Alex Avila, both injured..
Wednesday, Sept. 9 — The Twins have off days today and tomorrow as the Cleveland series looms on Friday. The Twins are a half game behind Chicago and Cleveland who are tied for first place in the Central Division, each of those teams posting a 6-4 record in the last 10 games while the Twins were 7-3. Minnesota split a doubleheader with St. Louis yesterday, winning 7-3 and then losing 6-4 as Randy Dobnak had a bad outing, walking two batters and hitting two batters in the third inning after pitching two scoreless innings as the Twins led 2-0 on a two-run homer by rookie Brent Rooker. Manager Baldelli kept starters Jorge Polanco, Byron Buxton and Luis Arraez out of the lineup in the second game, leaving me to wonder who they couldn't play when they had 72 hours to rest up before the next game. Jose Berrios got the win in the first game as Josh Donaldson, Nelson Cruz and Miguel Sano homered, although Berrios, after five shutout innings, gave up three runs without getting an out in the sixth inning.
Thursday, Sept. 10— The Twins and Cleveland are a game behind Chicago which won yesterday while Cleveland lost and the Twins were off again.
Friday, Sept. 11— The Twins (27-18) are a half game behind Chicago and a half game ahead of Cleveland as play begins today, although Chicago is two ahead in the important loss column, having played two fewer games than Minnesota. The Twins' next seven games are against those two teams and the team is 4-3 against Cleveland this season and 4-2 against Chicago. Tonight the Twins will send Kenta Maeda (4-1, 2.77 ERA) to the mound at Target Field against the guy with all-worldly numbers, Shane Bieber (7-0, 1.25). After three games here the Twins play four games in Chicago on Monday through Thursday. They will then be only eight games left in the season.