MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - The Minnesota Twins have a chance to win their first playoff series in 21 years on Wednesday, thanks in large part big Game 1 performances from Royce Lewis and Pablo Lopez.
What might fly under the radar is a game-changing play that Carlos Correa made to end the fourth inning. With the Twins up 3-0, and two on in the fourth with two out, Kevin Kiermaier hit a grounder to third. It went under the glove of Jorge Polanco and started rolling towards short left field.
Correa darted after the ball, and could see Bo Bichette trying to score from second base. In one motion, Correa barehanded the ball like would be if he was throwing to first, but instead went to Ryan Jeffers, who was blocking home plate. The throw had Bichette, who ran through a stop sign, beat. Jeffers tagged him out to end the inning, and the scoring threat was over.
"When I saw it was a big chopper and I saw it was going to be really in between, I went creeping that way because those are really tough plays. Those stay down on the grass, and once I saw the ball, I knew he had intentions, I could see it in his eyes. He had intentions of being aggressive, and I just went after him," Correa said after the win. "Once I saw his eyes locked on the ball and he decided to go for it, I knew I had to go home. It’s a throw that you don’t practice. I’ve said it before many times in the playoffs, defense wins championships."
Twins’ analyst Roy Smalley said on social media the play reminded him of one Derek Jeter made in the 2001 American League Division Series in 2001. Jeter relayed an errant throw from right field that missed the cutoff man, and got Jeremy Giambi out at home plate.
"I just have to say: The game-changing play Correa made today was reminiscent of Jeter’s iconic play vs. Oakland. Given where he was when the play started, the difficulty of the play and the game situation it’s just one of the best plays I’ve seen a SS make… ever," Smalley said.
Had Correa not made the play, a run scores and the tying run is at first base.
Twins manager Rocco Baldelli was equally in awe after the win.
"The play that Carlos Correa made, that should be shown everywhere, over and over again. You never practice that play, ever. It’s just a hell of a baseball play," Baldelli said. "If you like watching the biggest players making the biggest plays in the biggest games, then you should go watch that play."