MILWAUKEE – The Twins scored six runs against Brewers ace pitcher Corbin Burnes, handed a three-run lead to the back of their bullpen and played 3 1/2 hours in near 100-degree heat.
Their reward was a walk-off loss.
The Twins needed closer Jhoan Duran to pitch two scoreless innings. Duran kept the score tied in the ninth inning, but he surrendered a walk-off infield single to Brice Turang in the 10th inning as the Twins were dealt a deflating 8-7 loss to the Brewers on Wednesday at American Family Field in a battle between two first-place clubs.
Milwaukee swept the two-game series.
With the Twins leading by a run in the bottom of the 10th inning, Willy Adames opened with a game-tying single and advanced a base after Michael A. Taylor overran the ball in center field. Duran retired the next two batters and had Turang in an 0-2 count before the Brewers rookie beat out an infield single on a high chopper to third base.
"We gave up five runs in the last five innings of the game with our best relievers going out there, late-inning guys who have been really good for us this year," Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. "That's tough in and of itself."
For the second straight game in Milwaukee, Baldelli pulled his starting pitcher after he completed five innings and retired eight consecutive batters. The circumstances were much different than Tuesday because Kenta Maeda threw 92 pitches on a steamy 97-degree afternoon.
A fresh bullpen was handed a three-run lead, but it didn't hold up for long.
"At that point, you feel like it's your game," Baldelli said. "It's your game to win and, apparently, your game to lose as well."
Emilio Pagán replaced Maeda in the sixth inning and surrendered a two-run homer to Adames.
Tyrone Taylor, the No. 9 hitter in the Brewers lineup, launched a game-tying solo homer off Twins lefty Caleb Thielbar with one out in the seventh inning. Thielbar left a slider over the heart of the plate and Taylor swatted it 409 feet to left field.
"Big picture, they've done it well," Baldelli said of his late-inning relievers. "Today just wasn't the day."
The Twins hit three homers off Burnes, the 2021 National League Cy Young winner, and they all came with two outs. It was the first time Burnes gave up multiple home runs in a start since May 22. Royce Lewis bashed a cutter at the top of the strike zone for a two-run homer in the third inning.
Taylor, the Twins' No. 9 hitter, dropped a go-ahead, two-run homer over the left field wall that had enough hangtime to make NFL punters jealous in the fourth inning. Kyle Farmer padded the Twins' lead with a home run to left field in the sixth inning on a first-pitch cutter.
"It was electric," Lewis said. "We had a good approach, a good plan, and we attacked him well. Hitting the ball in the air off a guy like that, an ace pitcher, is pretty impressive. That's something looking forward to the playoffs, that's what you need to do."
The Twins produced only two hits against Milwaukee's bullpen. They had two runners on base with no outs in the ninth inning, but Taylor failed to drop a bunt before he struck out. Brewers closer Devin Williams escaped the jam with a flyout and a strikeout.
Ryan Jeffers salvaged a run in the 10th inning, which started with an automatic runner at second base, with an RBI infield single where he stumbled out of the batter's box, fell down about 10 feet shy of first base and crawled to the bag.
All pitchers had trouble combating the heat, which was 97 degrees at first pitch. The American Family Field roof was only partially closed because there is no air conditioning.
Maeda dislikes changing his jersey during a start, but he was sweating so much that he needed to swap uniforms three times. The home plate umpire, Chris Segal, was sweating through the ball bag on his hip, so he asked other umpires to keep extra baseballs in their pockets.
"I don't think I've sweated this much in my career," said Maeda, who allowed three runs and four hits in five innings.
Duran had pitched only two innings in the last week, so Baldelli was comfortable trying to squeeze two innings from his closer. He came up one out short.