Nelson Cruz’s RBI double in the bottom of the ninth inning gave the Minnesota Twins a 5-4 win over the Pirates Monday night in the first game of a two-game set at Target Field.
The loss was the Pirates’ fifth straight and left them with a 2-8 record – worst in the major leagues – going into today’s 2:10 p.m. matchup. The two teams will head to Pittsburgh for a pair of games Wednesday night and Thursday afternoon at PNC Park.
The Twins, who improved to 8-2, started their winning rally in the ninth on Jorge Polanco’s single to left off Nick Burdi. After a passed ball by Jacob Stallings allowed Polanco to move up a base, Burdi walked Mitch Garver. Both runners advanced on Luis Arraez’s line out to right and Cruz ended it with his double to center.
Cruz’ game-winning hit capped a comeback that saw the Twins erase a 4-0 lead that the Pirates had built through five innings with single runs in the first, second, fourth and fifth.
Cole Tucker led off the game by slamming the first pitch from Lewis Thorpe into the center field bleachers, and the Bucs made it 2-0 in the second on a base hit by Phillip Evans, a single by Guillermo Heredia and Stallings’ base hit off third baseman Marwin Gonzalez.
That left runners at first and second, but the Pirates could not cash in any more runs.
Pittsburgh made it 3-0 in the fourth when Erik Gonzalez doubled home Heredia, who had walked.
The lead grew to 4-0 in the fifth when Josh Bell singled, took second on a passed ball and came home on Evans’ single.
Bucs’ starter Derek Holland pitched shutout ball for the first five innings, giving up just two hits, but he and the Pirates ran into major trouble in the sixth.
The inning started innocently enough, with Holland getting a pair of ground outs sandwiched around a walk to Garver.
Cruz singled in a run and after Miguel Sano walked, Max Kepler doubled over the head of Tucker in center to drive in a pair of runs, making it 4-3.
That brought in Miguel Del Pozo, who could not retire any of the three batters he faced. Del Pozo walked Gonzalez and Jake Cave to load the bases, and then uncorked a wild pitch, allowing Kepler to score the tying run. After Del Pozo walked Byron Buxton, Chris Stratton escaped further damage by retiring Ehire Adrianza on a liner to left fielder Bryan Reynolds, leaving the score 4-4.
The Pirates managed to outhit the Twins 9-7, with Evans and Heredia each finishing with a pair of hits. The starting lineup featured just two players hitting over .200 – Evans at .348 and Tucker at .211.
Joe Musgrove (0-2) will make his third start of the season in today’s matchup while the Twins counter with Jose Berrios (0-1).