An emergency siren interrupted Michael Pineda's start on Thursday, and as if summoned by the blare, trouble soon struck the Twins. But perhaps the loud warning paid off, because the Twins managed to avert disaster in the end.
Max Kepler looped a single into shallow center field and Luis Arraez, on base with his fourth hit of the day, raced around third base and belly-flopped on home plate, setting off a jubilant celebration among his teammates who were clearly relieved to earn their first win in a week, 4-3 over the Red Sox.
"It's a wonderful feeling. It's elation. It's just fantastic," Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said after the Twins snapped their five-game losing streak. "All of us are grown men, and we get to be a part of it still, like we were when we were younger. It was a great day."
Especially after such a difficult week, and a challenging couple of hours. The Twins averted a four-game sweep to baseball's hottest team, but only after nearly succumbing to the inferno surrounding them.
Boston, which had won nine straight games, scratched out two paltry singles over seven innings against Pineda to fall behind by three runs, but immediately tied the game against the Twins' bullpen once he departed, and then threatened to take the lead in the ninth. The weather sirens that shrieked loudly enough during a planned test to temporarily halt play in the fifth inning had stopped, but there were plenty of metaphorical sirens going off at Target Field.
They were silenced, ironically enough, by Alexander Colome, who had blown two ninth-inning leads already this season. The veteran righthander ignored any lingering scars and got the zero, stranding the go-ahead run on second base, by striking out the final two hitters he faced and setting up the Twins' first ninth-inning rally — heck, their first ninth-inning runs — of the season.
"Winning over the course of a season is messy a lot of times," Baldelli philosophized. "It's not exactly something that always goes to plan. But as long as you have a plan and stick to it, you'll be OK. I think we'll be OK."
Arraez is making sure of it. The do-everything leadoff hitter had a remarkable day that included four base hits, three defensive positions, two runs batted in and one impressive diving catch.
"Anything that we need from him, for his team, he'll do it," Baldelli said. "He's been a lightning bolt."
And Pineda has been just the opposite — a calm spring breeze chasing storm clouds away. The big righthander has been ending losing streaks since he arrived in Minnesota, leading the Twins to an amazing 15-1 record when Pineda's on the mound following a loss. Talk about a first responder.
Enrique Hernandez opened the game with a single, but Pineda retired 14 in a row after that, completely flustering a Boston offense that has averaged 7.4 runs per game during its winning streak. Pineda, the first Twins pitcher to record an out in the seventh inning this season, allowed only two singles and a walk in his 88-pitch start, striking out six.
"That was just a fabulous outing," Baldelli said. "We're going to need a lot of times like this, where we need good, lengthy innings from our starters. … We have relative freshness in our bullpen because of that outing."
Not entirely, though. The Twins' surrender of their three-run lead in the eighth was the product of Hansel Robles' first terrible outing of the year, and a tremendous at-bat by Red Sox outfielder Alex Verdugo against Taylor Rogers. Robles, who had allowed only two baserunners in his first five appearances as a Twin, loaded the bases by hitting a batter and walking two more, forcing Twins manager Rocco Baldelli to summon Rogers to face Verdugo, who drove in three runs the day before.
They battled for 10 pitches, and Verdugo finally won the confrontation by lacing a three-run double into the left-field corner, tying the game.
But the Twins won in the end.
"It's a tough week, but we won the game. So it's a good starting [point] for us," a beaming Arraez said. "We've got a lot of games coming, so I thought 'We've got to keep going, keep going, play hard.'"