Funderburk gets bullpen on track, rescues Ober's winning effort

TORONTO – Bailey Ober might be the only Twins player bigger than Kody Funderburk, who's 6-foot-4. But that wasn't why Funderburk desperately wanted to preserve his teammate's near-perfect victory in Sunday's 5-1 victory over the Blue Jays.

"For sure, you don't want to spoil a great performance like Bailey's," Funderburk said. "Honestly, I've had a lot of mental [stress]. It's been an up-and-down year a little bit, so the mental side is something I've been really trying to work on."

So when the lefthander entered Sunday's game at Rogers Centre with the bases loaded and one out in the seventh inning, the Twins' 3-0 lead looking tenuous one day after the bullpen helped blow a six-run lead, he told himself to keep things simple.

"I tried to relax a little bit. I understood the situation. Told myself all that was required of me, coming in with the bases loaded, was to throw strikes," he said. "That's what I tried to focus on and let whatever happened happen. That was my mindset."

Funderburk came in after Cole Sands failed to retire any of the three batters he faced as the first reliever called on by manager Rocco Baldelli.

It was enough, even though the 27-year-old Funderburk hung a slider to pinch hitter Danny Jansen. "Thankfully, it was just a flyout. One run scored, but it could have been worse," Funderburk said.

Then he got ahead of Isiah Kiner-Falefa and struck him out on a cutter several inches above the strike zone, ending the inning.

"We kind of set him up. The pitch before was a cutter, kind of going down and in off the plate, and he fouled it off," Funderburk said. "I know the report on me is two-strike slider, so I'm trying to mix and match. Tried a cutter up, it was pretty well up there, and he missed it."

The Twins added two more runs in the top of the eighth inning, and Funderburk then retired all three hitters he faced in the bottom half to help the Twins win the series.

"He was real good. He went at them. A very good righthanded lineup, and he attacked them," Baldelli said. "Today was a really nice day for him."