Yacht racers break up Twins ups and downs
Let’s admit it, we’re starving for some good, hometown sports events. The impending arrival of high school and college football and soccer, and volleyball, will be heartily welcomed by Northern Minnesota sports fans who have grown weary of trying to follow the bouncing ball that is the Minnesota Twins.So it was with great enthusiasm that I learned that something called the Trans Superior International Yacht Race has been going on since 35 yachts of all sizes and shapes left the mouth of the St. Mary’s River near Sault Sainte Marie, Mich., Saturday at 1 p.m.Where was the fanfare? The entire Twin Ports attracted half the Upper Midwest to see some replica ancient sailing “tall” ships in recent years, including last summer, but I never heard a word about these serious yacht racers who fairly fly across the surface as they travel the length of Lake Superior.
It’s a jaunt of 350 nautical miles, and while they have various classes of competition, the first yachts arrived Monday morning.Several of the finishers moored down by the DECC, including the fabulous and futuristic Arete, which is a trimaran with its three hulls making it measure a square 60-by-61 feet. Owned and operated by Rick Warner of Marine City, Mich., it probably was competing in a unique class, which it undoubtedly won. But it just doesn’t matter. It’s a futuristic yacht that is dazzling to look at.If we’d known they were coming, we’d probably have turned out by the thousands to watch these sleek and speedy sailboats come under our Aerial Bridge.
As for following the Twins, the cynical ramblings by me a week ago have come true, that as soon as the Twins management decided that one horrible loss determined that they would throw in the towel and start trading to build for the future could easily backfire.The Twins had an awful time, blowing two 5-0 leads and a 4-1 margin while losing five out of six games on their West Coast road trip. But have you seen what the Twins did upon returning home to Target Field?On Sunday, at home against Texas, the Twins gave up five runs in the top of the first inning, and it looked for certain that a blowout loss was underway.
Amazingly, Max Kepler socked a 2-run home run in the last of the second, and Brian Dozier did the same, cutting the deficit to 5-4. Eddie Rosario homered in the third, and it was 5-5.Before the Rangers could collect themselves from the sudden turnabout, Eduardo Escobar was safe on a fielder’s choice and stole second with two out in the last of the fifth. Robbie Grossman singled to right, and as Escobar rounded third and headed for home, Grossman tried to stretch his single into a double. Simultaneously, Escobar hit the plate and Grossman was tagged out at second.
But Escobar scored a millisecond before Grossman became the third out.It didn’t seem like that big a deal, but it put the Twins ahead 6-5, and it stayed that way as three relievers subdued the Rangers and the Twins reversed the trend they had established on the road -- instead of blowing a 5-0 lead and losing, they overcame a 5-0 deficit and won.That brought the Milwaukee Brewers to Target Field to start a split 4-game series, two at Minnesota and the other two at Milwaukee.
A month ago, the Twins and the Brewers were the two surprise teams of Major League Baseball, both leading the Central Division in their respective leagues. But both faltered. Cleveland, and then Kansas City, swept past the Twins, and the defending World Series champion Chicago Cubs zoomed past the Brewers.Still, if you’re going to have interleague play, this is the best way to do it -- neighborhood rivals going at each other. The Twins had the incomparable Ervin Santana pitching in the opener, but this time, he was, shall we say, comparable. He didn’t have his usual sharpness, and Milwaukee jumped ahead 3-0 in the third, and made it 4-1 in the top of the fourth.A sample of what might be coming occured in the first inning, when Ryan Braun socked the ball to right-center for an easy double.
With one out, Braun was trying to live up to his reputation of igniting the Brewers, so he never broke stride and went for third. Byron Buxton retrieved the ball and threw to Brian Dozier, the second baseman. Dozier whirled and threw a one-hop strike to third, where Ehire Adrianza caught the perfect throw and slapped the tag on Braun for the out.Trailing 4-1 in the last of the fourth, the Twins had two outs when Buxton singled to left, and Adrianza singled him to second. Jason Castro walked to load the bases, and then Jose Polanco -- in the midst of a career 4-for-4 game -- doubled home two runs to cut it to 4-3. In the seventh, Eduardo Rosario doubled hom the tying run and Buxton sacrificed him to third. With two out, Castro came to the plate, a tough left-handed hitter.Milwaukee shifted its infield far to the right, leaving third base absolutely unbothered by an defensive player.
Reliever Oliver Drake was ready, but Rosario walked off third base, daring Drake to not notice him. He was about halfway to the plate, when Drake, ready to pitch, flinched. It was a balk!You don’t see many balks at the Major League level, and you never see a balk decide a ballgame. And if you have, you have NEVER, EVER seen a balk give the Twins a victory. But Rosario jogged on home for a 5-4 lead. That, alone, was scary for Twins followers, but Ryan Pressly blanked the Brewers in the eighth, and Matt Belisle gave up a hit but blanked the Brewers in the top of the ninth, and the Twins had a victory.Think about it: In back-to-back games, the Twins had overcome a 5-0 deficit to win 6-5, then a 4-1 deficit to win 5-4. Sure, there was a long way to go in the series, which finishes Thursday night in Milwaukee, but on a night when former Twins closer Brandon Kintzler won his second game in two straight days of relief for the Washington Nationals, it was great for Twins fans to see the bullpen win two in a row without him.