Minnesota Twins Sweep Blue Jays in AL Wildcard; First Playoff Series Win Since 2002

MLB: Wildcard-Toronto Blue Jays at Minnesota Twins
Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Twins quickly forgot about their game 1 American League Wildcard victory over the Toronto Blue Jays, on Tuesday, knowing they had to do it all over again less than 24 hours later.

Minnesota Twins come ready to play in game 2

So outside of another Jorge Polanco error at 3rd base, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that they came to Target Field on Wednesday, for game 2, ready to play a clean baseball game void (mostly) of mental and physical mistakes.

Related: Minnesota Twins End 18-Game Postseason Losing Streak with Victory Over Blue Jays

The Blue Jays cannot say the same. After the loss, fans and reporters in Toronto are sure to question coaching decisions and mental mistakes at the plate and on the basepaths.

Jose Berrios lights out before questionable early hook

Both starting pitchers, Sonny Gray and Jose Berrios, were lights out during the first half of game 2, which calls into question Toronto’s decision to pull him in the 4th inning, after walking the leadoff hitter that half-inning, Royce Lewis.

At the time of the walk, Berrios had pitched 3 full innings, allowing 3 hits. 1 walk and striking out 5 Twins hitters. His replacement, lefty pitcher Yusei Kikuchi, rewarded his manager’s questionable decision-making by allowing an infield hit to lefty batter Max Kepler, before walking Donovan Solano and then giving up the go-ahead base hit to Carlos Correa.

Kikuchi bounced Willi Castro, who was pinch-hitting for lefty batter, Matt Wallner, into a double play. That scored one more Twins run before Jeffers made the 3rd out. The score remained 2-0 Minnesota Twins until the final out of the game, in part due to Toronto’s advanced ability of shooting themselves in the foot.

Twins take advantage of sleeping Blue Jays

One of the Blue Jay’s self-inflicted wounds, however, came with the helpful aim of postseason savvy veteran, Carlos Correa, who hooked up with Sonny Gray for a 2nd base pickoff play that ended a major Blue Jays threat in the 5th-inning.

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Vlad Guerrero Jr was on 2B and George Springer was on 3B. Toronto’s best hitter, Bo Bichette, was at the plate. Carlos gave Sonny the wink as he walked back to the mound and both guys timed it perfectly. You know a play was on because Correa was not worried about getting back to shortstop for a pitch.

Carlos Correa has shown, throughout the first two games of this postseason, just how valuable he is. Not only did he drive in one of two runs on Wednesday and rack up three hits between the two games, but he made a run-saving defensive play in game one and then called and executed that pickoff play in game two.

Minnesota Twins bullpen shows up again

The Twins bullpen came up huge again, on Wednesday evening. Converted (for now) starter, Louie Varland, got one out (strikeout) in the 6th, before needing a bailout via fellow Minnesotan, Caleb Thielbar, who surrendered an infield hit to his first batter, which loaded the bases, before Thielbar forced Matt Chapman to ground into a game-saving double play to end the inning.

Brock Stewart pitched a flawless 7th before Griffin Jax, for the second-straight night, got three outs in the 8th; the last of which he put his body on the line for. Then, after some blister and/or fingernail problems delayed the start of the 9th inning, Jhoan Duran secured the series victory with a dominant closing performance.

With Correa and other postseason vets on this roster, the Minnesota Twins feel unflappable, which they will need vs the defending World Series champion Houston Astros, in the ALDS.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan

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