Nelson Cruz Walks Off the Pirates

Credit: @Twins-Twitter

The last thing the Twins expected with Pittsburgh in town was to face their biggest test of adversity in this short season. They overcome abysmal starting pitching and early impatience at the plate to beat the Pirates 5-4 on a walk-off from the ageless Nelson Cruz.


Lewis Thorpe wasn’t supposed to start against the Pirates. It was supposed to be Homer Bailey. But after Bailey was diagnosed with elbow tendinitis, he was placed on the 10-day injured list. Forcing Thorpe into action and make his first start on the year.

Yet this is what manager Rocco Baldelli and pitching coach Wes Johnson envisioned for Thorpe. They hoped to utilize him in a long relief or spot starting role. However, that can be a slippery slope that they likely don’t want to use too often. Thankfully it was against the hapless Pirates and their league-worst payroll…right? Wrong.

It was easy to tell Thorpe was making his first start. And right from the first pitch, no less. He served up a meatball to Cole Tucker who took it yard. It looked to be a long night. Throw in another run in the second and the fans atop Ramp B overlooking the stadium were vocally frustrated.

It was not a promising performance from a rookie pitcher needing a confidence boost. Lack of command and horrific velocity doomed him from the start. Thorpe walked four batters in the first four innings while also not registering a pitch above 90 mph. Talk about morale crushing.


Talk about the worst possible time for the bats to go cold. Facing what could be considered the worst team in Major League Baseball, the bats fell completely silent. Instead of hitting Bombas they continuously struck and popped out. Against a pitcher, Derrick Holland, who is notorious for giving up fly balls and home runs no less. After three anemic innings, it looked like something may have been cooking for the Twins. Luck seemed to only be going in the Pirates favor.

With Holland rolling through the Twins lineup, he finally wore down in the sixth inning. As the offense finally found plate discipline. The Twins scored three quick runs thanks to a Nelson Cruz single and a Max Kepler double bringing them within one run, 4-3. Two more walks to fill the bases and a wild pitch allowing Kepler to score made it a tie game. This all came with two outs. This team doesn’t quit!


It was nerve-wracking, but they did it. With Polanco reaching on a bloop single and a Garver walk, it was two on in the bottom of the ninth with no outs. Arraez made the biggest productive out of the evening, smacking a ball to deep right-center advancing both runners to second and third with one out.

Then it was Cruz time. He absolutely wrecked a pitch to the warning track for a game winning double. Cuing the mob around the Twins’ dugout for their first walk-off of the year and making them 8-2 on the year. It wasn’t pretty, but thankfully it doesn’t matter how you win. A win is a win.

Jack Kewitsch | Minnesota Sports Fan

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