MINNEAPOLIS — If the dramatic ups and downs during this week of Twins baseball feel like they’ve taken years off your life, take some solace in the fact that this level of pandemonium is quite literally unprecedented in American League history.
Each of the Twins’ last four games — two losses and two wins — has ended in a walk-off, and the latest episode of late-inning mayhem saw Minnesota rally again for two runs in the ninth inning against Baltimore closer Jorge López . Jorge Polanco’s game-tying blast and rookie Jose Miranda’s walk-off single surged the Twins to a 4-3 victory, a day after Byron Buxton’s two-run blast also sank the Orioles on the last pitch of the game.
According to STATS, Inc., the Twins became the first team in American League history to follow up consecutive walk-off losses with consecutive walk-off wins in a single season. This also marked the Twins’ first consecutive walk-off victories since Aug. 15-16, 2021, when they claimed consecutive 5-4 victories against Tampa Bay and Cleveland.
“The swings in this game are pretty amazing,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “This game’s pretty great. It’s also, you know, messed up at times, too, the way it can get you psychologically. But nights like yesterday and games like today are good reminders for all of us of what we’re capable of, and I think that that’s what these two days did for us after the five-game stand against Cleveland.”
Here’s how this four-game sequence against the Guardians and Orioles has played out for the Twins:
Wednesday: Lost to Guardians, 7-6 (10 innings), on Josh Naylor walk-off home run
thursday: Lost to Guardians, 5-3, on Andrés Giménez walk-off home run
Friday: Beat Orioles, 3-2, on Buxton walk-off home run
Saturday: Beat Orioles, 4-3, ten Miranda walk-off singles
The Twins are the first team to be involved in four consecutive walk-off results of any sort since the 2010 D-backs, who were involved in five in a row — four losses and one win — from May 30-June 4, 2010.
“It feels like every game we’ve played for a while now has kind of come to a conclusion with a lot of cheering and a lot of excitement on one side of the field, but we’ll take these,” Baldelli said. “It’s two in a row now where we’ve needed something really big against one of the better bullpens in the league.”
Once again, the Twins’ offense lay dormant for the majority of the game before roaring to life against the stingy Baltimore relief corps, which entered Saturday second in the Majors with 4.0 WAR as a group, per FanGraphs. After Nick Gordon’s solo homer chased Orioles starter Jordan Lyles in the seventh and Carlos Correa’s eighth-inning sacrifice fly drew the Twins within a run, they got another shot at López in the ninth.
Buxton’s walk-off off López on Friday marked the first homer the right-hander had allowed this season. The very next batter he faced, Polanco, nailed another, sending a 96.9 mph sinker to the bullpens in left-center — exactly where Carlos Correa had said the damage against López would come, a day earlier.
“We’ve got to have strong mindsets, belief in your approach and what you’re trying to do,” Polanco said. “If you’re trying to go left-center, you’ve just got to believe it.”
Alex Kirilloff followed with a one-out double to the left-field wall and Gary Sánchez flared a single to shallow right, setting Miranda up with runners on the corners and one out. After falling behind, 0-2, he got a sinker up in the zone — and he lined it sharply into left for the first walk-off hit of his young career.
Miranda started his career hitting .094/.143/.189 through his first 14 games. Since then, the reigning Twins Minor League Player of the Year is hitting .330/.356/.546 in his most recent 32 games.
“It’s just like trusting your game, trusting the process, putting the work in every day,” Miranda said. “I kind of knew eventually it was going to start coming at least my way, because the first games were kind of hard, maybe putting too much pressure on myself. But just trusting my game, the process and keeping my confidence up.”
Even after sputtering through a brutal 10-day stretch against the Guardians in which the Twins lost five leads in the eighth inning or later in eight games against their division rivals, Minnesota has maintained its confidence that its talent would rebound and win out in the long run, noting that it’s been in the thick of all of these games. Sometimes, these close games will go the Twins’ way; sometimes, they won’t.
“It’s funny, we got walked off twice in a row and now we walk off twice in a row,” Kirilloff said. “That’s the way baseball goes sometimes. You’ve kind of got to roll with it and hang with them during those games where it doesn’t turn out in your favor and keep at it every day.”
But they’d be fine with cutting out some of the drama, too.
“These last two have been fun,” Sonny Gray said. “Hopefully we’ll come out tomorrow and jump them from the get-go.”