MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - Away from the baseball diamond, the Minnesota Twins face an uncertain future with their TV partner Bally Sports North after Diamond Sports Group was ordered Thursday by a federal bankruptcy judge to pay the remaining 25 percent of their contract with the Twins.
If Diamond Sports does not fulfill that payment, the TV contract will be terminated. That means the Twins and Major League Baseball will determine who broadcasts games for the remainder of the 2023 season. The Twins play Friday night on Apple TV+, and Saturday on Fox 9. Sunday? Who knows.
On the field, they’re fighting to stay atop the American League Central Division. The Twins made it more interesting than they likely wanted, but came back from down 6-3 to get a 7-6 walk-off win over the Cleveland Guardians Thursday night at Target Field. The Twins entered the night with a two-game lead over the Detroit Tigers in the AL Central. It's their fourth walk-off win this season.
It came with a cost, as Carlos Correa, Max Kepler and Byron Buxton all left the game with injuries.
"You always talk about finding a way in this game. This is probably a good textbook example of that. Our guys, they showed up and played good," Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said.
A 3-1 Twins' lead got away from Pablo Lopez in the sixth inning. The Guardians used six singles and a walk to score five runs and take a 6-3 lead, all with one out.
Down 1-0, the Twins tied the game in the fourth on Kepler’s RBI single, scoring Alex Kirilloff. Michael A. Taylor led off the fifth with a homer to left to give the Twins a 2-1 lead, and Kirilloff’s single to right scored Christian Vazquez for a 3-1 lead.
The Twins got back in the game and answered with three runs in the eighth. Donovan Solano, hitting for Buxton, smashed a double to left that scored Willi Castro. Royce Lewis then delivered a two-run, game-tying homer to dead center. In just three games with the Twins coming off his second major knee injury, Lewis already has two homers and six RBI. His blast Thursday came in a big spot.
"He takes a good, adult hack when he’s in the box. When he does put that adult swing on the ball, he catches it flush. It’s something he just has in his swing and the ball comes off very live. In a moment where things weren’t looking good in that game, we had guys come in and just start whacking the ball around. I think he has a chance to be a real good player," Baldelli said.
Lewis crossed home plate and pointed to his wrist after the homer. He also did the ice in his veins motion. He's having fun, healthy for the first time in two years.
"It’s time to play baseball. Let’s just have it be like it’s time, it’s not my time, it’s just the Twins’ time. It’s time to play baseball, it’s time for me to have fun again, it’s time to celebrate a homer," Lewis said. "No matter what the situation is, I want to be up there. I just love that we came out and we fought."
Christian Vazquez led off the ninth with a walk, and Jorge Polanco doubled to right. With the bases loaded and Ryan Jeffers running for Vazquez, Castro gave the Twins a walk-off win with a fly out deep enough to right field to score Jeffers. Castro also started the eighth inning rally with a single past the Guardians' shortstop.
"I like that we got the bases loaded there and we didn’t waste any time. We battled and we talk about hitting the ball in a forward direction, and good things happen. You’re looking for that," Baldelli said.
"Man it feels really good. I just think when a player has the opportunity to play every day, there’s a lot of stuff to be made. I’m taking advantage of the opportunity," Castro said.
The Twins got a win, but again are not healthy. Buxton left the game with rib soreness after getting hit by a pitch in the fifth. Correa was 0-for-3 with a pair of strikeouts before leaving the game, re-aggravating his plantar fasciitis. Kepler left the game with a migraine.
Baldelli was asked after the win if he's overly concerned with the injuries.
"Yes, but there’s nothing we can do about it at this moment. All three guys come out of the game at basically the same time, it is concerning," Baldelli said. "It happened really fast, but the amazing thing is the other guys that were out there didn’t let, that can be a drain. Everyone knows what happened, they step up and they step in. It’s not that easy to do that kind of stuff."