SAN DIEGO – Sonny Gray played a big role, and Byron Buxton too. Carlos Correa made room for the Twins and Jhoan Duran helped hold him up.
But don’t overlook the athletic contribution — well, that’s probably not the right word — of a 63-year-old veteran of 34 MLB seasons in the Twins’ 7-1 win over the Padres on Saturday.
Team leader Jerry Layne pivoted to his right in the seventh inning, took a small but urgent jump and made the defensive play of the game for the Twins, knocking down Jurickson Profar’s single tyer. The umpire’s unintentional collision with the baseball ended the game, allowed Profar to take first base and, more importantly, stopped the speedy CJ Abrams, under Rule 5.05(b)(4) of MLB, to score from second base and tie the 2-1. game, as he surely would have done.
Profar made a gesture of disbelief as he ran for first base, and the crowd of 39,574 booed vehemently. And it only got worse when Griffin Jax entered the game and retired Manny Machado and retired Eric Hosmer on a popup to end the inning with the Twins still leading.
Perhaps energized by their incredible good fortune, the Twins immediately broke out with their biggest inning in two weeks, collecting five runs on five hits against relievers Adrian Morejon and Dinelson Lamet to avoid their first four-game losing streak in the league. season.
Even better, the odd win restored the Twins’ two-game lead in AL Central over the Guardians, who lost in Tampa Bay.
Buxton homered for the second straight day and third time in four games, this time ricocheting a fly ball off the Western Metal Supply Building in left field, a 434-foot blast that gives him 26 on the season. Correa has exactly half that, after missing a throw from Morejon over the center field wall to trigger the eighth-inning avalanche.
Jose Miranda added an RBI single during the inning, and Nick Gordon bounced a rule-of-thumb double into the seats to score Miranda. It was the biggest inning the Twins have ever had at Petco Park, where they are now 7-2 in franchise history.
The game was a welcome respite from daily outbursts by the Twins’ starting pitchers, who had allowed a total of 21 runs in three games since Gray’s last start. Gray was far from perfect — at least one runner reached base in each of his five innings — but he threw trouble every time.
With one exception: A third-inning lead from Manny Machado looked well placed in the inside corner, until the All-Star third baseman timed it perfectly. Machado’s smash landed in the left field seats nearly 400 feet out, his second straight game with a home run.
Gray threw just 79 pitches, but Baldelli chose to trust his bullpen with four innings and a one-run lead. Throwing errors in the sixth and seventh innings – one by Emilio Pagan and one by Carlos Correa – endangered that lead, but each time the resulting runner advanced no farther than second base, the latter case thanks to Layne’s reflexes.
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