Late-dramatics send Twins to fourth straight win

There was an injury, an ejection, and a replay review on a play that would have tied the game — and that was just the bottom of the seventh inning.

There weren’t many dramatics to speak of for the first part of Saturday’s game, but the Twins made things interesting late in the seventh and captured the lead in the eighth on Alex Kirilloff’s three-run home run to surge to a 5-3 win over the Texas Rangers at Target Field.

It was the second game-deciding home run for Kirilloff in as many days after a prolonged slump in May.

“You just saw the dugout and the team’s reaction. Nobody is pulling harder for a better guy,” bench coach Jayce Tingler said, filling in for ailing manager Rocco Baldelli. “And knowing how much he’s been working, and certainly been showing signs of coming out of it. For him to deliver the big one there in the eighth was huge, off a really good pitcher.”

Kirilloff’s late heroics off Texas reliever David Robertson came after a game in which the Twins (28-23) were unable to do much against Rangers (24-29) starter Michael Lorenzen. The Twins pushed across a run in the first when Ryan Jeffers drew a walk with the bases loaded.

Lorenzen finished his day by retiring the last nine batters he faced but after heading back out to start the seventh, he started cramping. After being checked out for a lengthy period of time, he departed. Upon his exit, things started to take a turn for the Twins, who were down 3-1 at the time.

“We just struggled to find the sweet part of the bat and the barrel, so he was in a groove,” Tingler said of Lorenzen. “With nine outs to go, our guys stayed patient and we were able to get to the bullpen a little bit, which was big.”

It was Kirilloff who began the seventh-inning rally, kicking off the inning with a single off reliever Jesus Tinoco before Carlos Santana drew a walk.

After Willi Castro struck out, Robertson was called upon to face Edouard Julien. Near the end of his at-bat, Julien just got his bat on a pitch, fouling it off. Heim appeared to have caught it cleanly, though the umpires disagreed, prolonging Julien’s at-bat.

That play led to the end of Rangers manager Bruce Bochy’s day when he was ejected. Given an extra life, Julien wound up drawing a walk. The next batter, Carlos Correa, sent a long sacrifice fly to center field, plating the Twins a run.

The Twins had a chance to tie it later in the inning, but Carlos Santana was thrown out on Jose Miranda’s single when Santana attempted to score on a close play at home.

It wouldn’t matter, though, as Kirilloff, drilled a low breaking ball from Robertson to left-center field in the eighth — and then let out a rare show of emotion, yelling as he crossed home plate — to send the Twins to their fourth straight win.

“When I hit it, I didn’t know it was out. Saw (center fielder Leody Taveras) at the wall, so I thought there was a chance he was going to catch it. So, it was just a sigh of relief,” Kirilloff said. “And kind of rounding the bases, seeing (Byron Buxton and Max Kepler) at home plate just pumped up, everyone pumped up, I got pumped up. It was fun.”

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