KANSAS CITY, Mo.—The Twins had seen the scenario that faced them last night play out seemingly countless times over the past few weeks: they rally down the stretch only to come up short in the ninth.
The outcome was far different this time.
Jorge Polanco drove in the go-ahead runs off ailing Kansas City closer Kelvin Herrera with two outs in the ninth as Minnesota rallied to beat the Royals 4-2 in a game that could have massive implications on the American League wild-card race.
“It was really good to see us get over the hump in one of these games,” said Twins' manager Paul Molitor.
“We've been putting pressure on to the last out,” he noted.
“Guys put together some really nice at-bats.”
Herrera, who has been dealing with a mild forearm strain, inherited a 2-1 lead before giving up a pair of singles and a walk.
Brian Dozier hit a tying sacrifice fly to the warning track. Then after Joe Mauer was walked intentionally, Polanco lined a single up the middle for the lead.
Trevor Hildenberger (3-2) earned the win with a scoreless eighth in relief of Twins' starter Kyle Gibson while Matt Belisle handled a perfect ninth to notch his sixth save.
“Any time you can go seven innings without striking anybody out, your defence is playing good,” Gibson noted.
“And hats off to the offence," he added. ”That's why we won the game.
“The offence didn't give up.”
Herrera (3-3) squandered a solid night from Sam Gaviglio, who recently was claimed off waivers from the Seattle Mariners, and the rest of Kansas City's bullpen.
Gaviglio allowed only a homer by Robbie Grossman and three other hits in five innings before a trio of relievers got the game to the ninth.
“We had it lined up the way we wanted it to line up,” said Royals' manager Ned Yost.
The loss was especially devastating for the roller-coaster Royals given their place in the crowded AL wild-card race.
They began the night 2.5 games back of the Twins with 24 games to play.
“That's a tough loss right there in the last inning,” conceded Alcides Escobar.
“Just come back tomorrow, keep playing hard, and win the series.”
“It was a pretty big game,” Yost acknowledged.
“It looked like we had everything lined up to win it but we just didn't win it.”
Elsewhere in the AL, New York dumped Baltimore 9-1 and Cleveland bombed Chicago 11-2.
Over in the NL, Washington nipped Philadelphia 4-3, Chicago beat Pittsburgh 8-2, New York downed Cincinnati 7-2, Atlanta topped Miami 6-5, San Diego blanked St. Louis 3-0, and Colorado dumped L.A. 9-1.