MINNEAPOLIS — The Twins’ first homestand of the season had just about everything: Masterful pitching performances. Dominant innings from the bullpen. Home runs. Injuries. A coronavirus scare. Shutouts. A socially-distant walk-off celebration. And even a drone delay.
File it in the you-don’t-see-that-every-day category: A rogue drone flying above center field paused Tuesday afternoon’s game against the Pirates for nine minutes, but the Twins didn’t let that faze them in their 7-3 win over Pittsburgh.
“Definitely a 2020 moment right there,” manager Rocco Baldelli said.
The win capped off a 7-1 homestand in which the team swept both the Cardinals and Pirates (2-9) and took three of four from division rival Cleveland. The Twins (9-2), who are riding a five-game winning streak, now depart for an eight-game road trip that will take them to Pittsburgh, Kansas City and Milwaukee after a dominant homestand.
“Obviously we want to win every game we can. We had a pretty good homestand. We want to continue that on the road,” starter Jose Berrios said. … We set the tone. (We’ve got) good chemistry so far. The people are healthy and strong. The only thing is to go out there and do our work.”
The Twins established an early first-inning lead Tuesday after Eddie Rosario fouled off five pitches and then reached at a pitch well out of the strike zone and poked it into center to drive in a run. Two more runs scored later in the inning on a Miguel Sano double to left and a Luis Arraez sacrifice fly that came after Pirates starter Joe Musgrove did not get a strike three call on the pitch before.
The Twins piled on throughout the game, adding a run in the second, one in the fourth and a pair of runs in the fifth while Berrios settled in and found a groove.
Berrios issued a pair of walks and single in the second inning, but came up with two strikeouts to get out of the bases-loaded jam and keep the Pirates off the scoreboard. In his third start of the season, Berrios gave up just one run on four hits in six innings.
“I know I had a rough inning in the second inning,” he said. “After that we had a talk and we went out and tried to be more relaxed and more, ‘Don’t try to be too quick, just have better rhythm.’ That’s what I did and that’s what I think helped me get through the sixth inning.”
Berrios, after getting two quick outs in the fifth, was forced off the mound when somebody started flying a drone over the stadium, but he was able to work through that distraction. The teams didn’t know whether the delay would be major or minor, Baldelli said, as they waited in or near their dugouts to ensure safety before returning to the field.
“Well definitely we have a lot of, I guess, thinking to be distracted,” designated Nelson Cruz said. “We’ve been doing a really good job just focusing on controlling the game, just go out there and (have) good at-bats, just let your ability take off. Today was a good example.”
It’s just one more thing the Twins have had to deal with on this homestand. A homestand where two starters — Rich Hill and Homer Bailey — hit the injured list, as well as reliever Zack Littell. The Twins have also been playing without Josh Donaldson, who injured his calf on the homestand.
And over the weekend, they had a little scare after news that members of the St. Louis Cardinals — who they hosted last week at Target Field — had tested positive for COVID-19. Twins testing has come back negative since then.
But through all of that, the Twins were able to establish themselves as the premier team in the American League Central, like expected, and jump out to an early lead in the division.
“After a long homestand, the guys kept our focus and just continued to go out there and have great at-bats, pitched well, played well in the field,” Baldelli said. “I think our guys showed a lot of different things today. It was a great way to cap off a great homestand and a memorable one at that, too.”