Minnesota Twins: Diary of a doubleheader – One man’s quest to watch it all

May 20, 2017; Minneapolis, MN, USA; A general view of the rain-soaked field prior to the game between the Minnesota Twins and the Kansas City Royals at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Jordan Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
May 20, 2017; Minneapolis, MN, USA; A general view of the rain-soaked field prior to the game between the Minnesota Twins and the Kansas City Royals at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Jordan Johnson-USA TODAY Sports /

The Minnesota Twins hosted the Kansas City Royals yesterday in a traditional doubleheader and I kept a running Twitter diary of the whole spectacle.

See the picture above? Rain. It’s done that a lot this season for the Minnesota Twins, both at home and on the road. With Saturday’s game once again rained out, the Twins decided to play two with Kansas City before they left town on Sunday.

While doubleheaders are rare enough in themselves, the Twins decided with so many rainouts already that they would treat their fans to a traditional doubleheader – two games for the price of just one ticket.

While traditional, it’s no longer conventional. Most doubleheaders are day-night affairs with the home team dumping out the fans between games, before opening up the ticket booths once again for game two.

The Twins played one day-night doubleheader just this past Thursday, and have another four more remaining on their schedule.

Two are just before the All-Star break, making the Twins play 35 games in 34 days heading into the break. Uffda, indeed.

To top it all off, the Twins and White Sox are playing in an even rarer still scheduled doubleheader on August 21 at Guaranteed Rate Field. Hopefully, for the Twins, they can avoid the raindrops for a few months for some actual days off.

Just before the game gets underway, Fox Sports North shows a montage of the last 15 years of the Twins-Royals rivalry.

How the Twins dominated the series until three and a half years ago, before the Royals made back-to-back World Series appearances – winning it all in 2015. Now, this season, the Twins have won six straight.

And Dick Bremer delivers the ultimate announcer’s jinx: “The Twins prepare to take their perfect record against the Kansas City Royals into two games this afternoon.” Great. There’s two losses.

1:00 PM (CDT)

1:13 PM

First pitch! Phil Hughes throws a strike. He always throws strikes (more on that later), so no surprise. Game time temp at Target Field is a chilly 49 degrees. Supposedly 27,000+ hearty fans in the stands, but most are dressed as stadium seats.

1:23 PM

Still 0-0, time to open a Mountain Dew and some pistachios. Gonna pace myself. Keep telling yourself that.

1:30 PM

After an Eric Hosmer single, Salvador Perez deposits a Phil Hughes offering deep (413′) into the left center seats. Very loud, cracking sounds coming off the bats from the KC hitters. Even the outs. Not good.

2:08 PM

After yet another Hosmer single, this time Jorge Bonifacio hits one to St. Louis Park for a 4-0 Royals lead.

2:10 PM

Just after pressing “Send” on Twitter, Brandon Moss goes back-to-back with a laser shot that was still rising as it hit the Kasota limestone in right. 5-0 Royals. Maybe, just maybe, mix in a ball out of the strike zone, Hughes.

2:27 PM

First real Twins scoring threat is dashed. After KC walks Miguel Sano (smart), Max Kepler lines a single. With runners at the corners, Kepler takes off on an 0-2 pitch (huh?) and Friday’s hero Kennys Vargas lines into a double play. Soon after, threat over. Meat log time. Hughes gone, Adam Wilk in to start fifth inning.

2:47 PM

Twins score! Royals pitcher Jake Junis is making his MLB debut. To start off the fifth inning, he walks Jason Castro and Byron Buxton. Brian Dozier‘s RBI single plates the first run for Minnesota and Sano’s soft liner is grabbed by Whit Merrifield briefly, but dropped as he tumbles to the ground. 5-2 Royals. Junis out. Twins rally snuffed before more damage can be done.

3:44 PM

Seventh inning magic time for the Twins versus the Royals. It’s been KC’s undoing all year against Minnesota. Yep, after another Dozier single, Joe Mauer walked to bring up Sano once again with runners on and just one out.

A DEEEEEP fly to right center field… off the limestone (just a few feet to the right and it was a homer) for a two-run double. Three RBI for Sano in this game, now 17 on the season just against the Royals. Wow.

Sano looked to have third if he wanted it, rounding second with a head of steam, only to turn back to second base. A grounder by Kepler to deep first base would have scored Sano. Now with two outs, manager Paul Molitor pinch-hits for Vargas (bad splits hitting right-handed) with Eduardo Escobar. Who promptly strikes out, swinging at three pitches out of the strike zone. 5-4 Royals after seven complete.

3:52 PM

To begin the eighth inning, I figured Molitor would pull Wilk now that he had done his job to allow the Twins to climb back into the game. In a high-leverage situation, surely he would pull Wilk after throwing three scoreless innings. Nope.

Moss destroys the Wilk offering 434 feet to right center field, seizing the momentum the Twins had gained for all of eight minutes. For one of the lightest hitting teams in the league, the Royals flexed their muscles in Game 1, hitting four so far. 6-4 Royals.

4:40 PM

Jordan Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
Jordan Johnson-USA TODAY Sports /

Twins threaten in the bottom of the ninth, with another walk to Mauer and another single by Kepler. Up to the plate strides Vargas… er, wait, Escobar. Just knew that pinch-hit in the seventh inning was gonna come back and bite the Twins.

After Vargas’ pinch-hit home run Friday off Royals closer Kelvin Herrera, it would have been nice to see a rematch between the two with the game on the line.

Instead, Escobar strikes out and the Royals win Game 1, 6-4 in three hours, 21 minutes. Bremer’s jinx intact through the first game.

Half hour break between games. Time to order pizza.

Hey, gotta be a Dad for a few minutes! Eight-pack of Dew down to just four left, could get tight before the end of Game 2. Definitely in need of a bathroom break and to check on the Minnesota Gophers softball team.

5:10 PM

The Twins made a savvy move waiting until after Saturday’s postponement to add Adalberto Mejia to the roster. As such, with a doubleheader, they could add him without any roster ramifications as the 26th man.

If he pitches well, they can make the move they were going to prior to Saturday’s start. If not, they can return him to AAA Rochester. Because he was the 26th man, he had to start Game 2, as that is considered the makeup game.

After two quick outs, Hosmer (stop me if you’ve heard this one) singles in front of a Sal Perez home run to left center. Quickly 2-0 Royals. Ooof.

5:18 PM

Ian Kennedy on the bump for KC – the winless (0-3) Ian Kennedy. Dozier walks and Robbie Grossman (started in right field) smashes a home run (410 feet – didn’t know he had it in him) to right center. 2-2 tie ballgame.

5:23 PM

After Sano walks, Kepler hits his own home run to right field and the Twins take their first lead of the doubleheader, 4-2, before one out is recorded.

5:43 PM

Twins coming around for the second time, and Dozier just misses hitting a home run, instead getting an RBI double after Ehire Adrianza had walked. Three walks for Kennedy, and all three have scored. 5-2 Twins.

6:06 PM

Seriously, Minnesota, you have to adjust your pitching strategy to Sal Perez. This time he smashes his third home run of the doubleheader to left center. Kid had it in his glove and drops it. Sulking ensues. 5-3 Twins.

6:10 PM

Torii Hunter is merciless! Funny bit on Fox Sports North as they replay the kid dropping ball and slumping in disbelief. He proceeds to throw glove to another fan before it appears he walks out of Target Field.

Ryan Homler captured the moment for Twitter:

The fan, Alex Murphy, joked with Torii and Kevin Gorg about his gaffe, and received 100 lottery scratchers and a signed Hunter baseball for being the butt of a 10-minute joke. He’s on a quest to visit all the major league parks and has seen the Twins in action before in Philadelphia:

He can catch! Now, back to baseball.

6:16 PM

Shortly after watching his catching counterpart go deep yet again, Chris Gimenez hits one just over the left field wall to put the Twins back up by three at 6-3. Another two singles later, Sano drives in his fourth run of the day. 6-4 Minnesota after four. Could be a long night.

More from Call to the Pen

6:42 PM

Mejia has settled down nicely. Kepler makes two outstanding catches to begin the sixth inning. One coming in as he slid to his right, and the second deep over his left shoulder that he catches backhanded running into the center field wall. Nine straight now retired by Mejia.

7:07 PM

The Max Kepler show continues. After he walks and steals second base, Vargas hits a blooper to right. Kepler waits before running, then runs through the stop sign at third to score. 7-4 Twins after seven complete.

7:16 PM

Taylor Rogers now on in relief. After a single and a double-play grounder, Hosmer smokes another 400-foot-plus home run on the day. This one was lefty-on-lefty crime. Hosmer 4-8 on the day, with four runs scored and the one RBI. In the series, he batted 7-13, raising his batting average to .309 – this after barely hitting .200 entering May.

7:35 PM

Finally! After six and a half hours, and just under six hours of baseball played, it’s over. Seemingly, like most doubleheaders, this one ended in a split, leaving the Twins in a tie with Cleveland for the AL Central Lead. The Royals drop 5.5 games behind.

Next: Twins vs. Royals series preview

Final Tally: Six hours of baseball, three slices of pizza, four Mountain Dews, 1/2 bag of pistachios, 1/2 bag of Cheetos, a sleeve of Ritz Crackers with meat & cheese and maybe 10 cookies – who counts cookies?