LOS ANGELES — Despite rallying from two deficits and leading in extra innings Monday night, the Twins lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers 9-8 in 12 innings on a drive through Dodger Stadium. Here’s what you need to know:
• Although several calls were made against them late in the game (a David Peralta ground ball that looked at fault went for an RBI double in the eighth inning and plate umpire Phil Cuzzi’s strike zone during the 10th inning at bat by Alex Kirilloff), the Twins still had plenty of chances to win. None were bigger than the 10th inning when Los Angeles reliever Phil Bickford walked Christian Vázquez with bases full and no outs to make it an 8-7 game. But Bickford, who threw a career-high 48 pitches, knocked out Donovan Solano and Kirilloff (with a big assist from Cuzzi) and got Michael Taylor off the ground. The Twins finished 4 for 17 with runners in scoring position and 15 runners blocked. “Exactly where we want to be,” said Twins manager Rocco Baldelli. “We have to find ways in all these at-bats to push a run through. He (Bickford) was a little off the ropes with his strike throw. It was another place we really wanted to be. The opportunities are there.
• The Twins elected to beat Trayce Thompson instead of Max Muncy, who homered twice and a single, walking the hitter to charge the bases at 12th. Jorge López was electric so far, including a whiff of Will Smith, who has just eight strikeouts in 114 plate appearances. But even after López took a 1-2 lead in the count against Thompson, hitless in 27 at-bats since April 17, he couldn’t locate himself on three straight pitches and walked in the winning run. . “I was just trying to be really good with my best thing, which is my fastball,” López said. “I tried to locate him on the area. Bases loaded, tried to land a strike here. Lack. Two very good courses, go for it. They just got a little lucky. … I felt really good.
• The missed call on Peralta’s double annoyed Baldelli by giving Los Angeles a one-point lead towards ninth. “Peralta’s brace is a foul ball. I’m not going to sit here and say it’s the only play in the game that matters but when the play that leads to them getting a late run is just a foul every moment basically along the way after the first rebound and I mean, that’s a big reason why we lost the game, because they got a brace on a ball that wasn’t close to being fair. From behind the plate, Vázquez had a perfect view of Peralta’s play, which was clearly a foul using the camera view at high plate. The game is a judgment call and cannot be reviewed. “It was a foul,” Vázquez said. “It was foul. Clearly. It’s a foul. It’s hard. It’s hard because you can’t dispute that. That’s the hard part. There’s nothing you can do about it. It’s a big loss.”
• The Twins bullpen will be severely shorthanded on Tuesday after Jhoan Duran pitched two innings and López pitched 1 2/3. Duran had a chance to wrap up a win in the 10th, but JD Martinez scored a single in the tying run. Griffin Jax also gave up a point on Peralta’s double in the eighth.
• The Twins’ offense rallied several times after the Dodgers took a 5-1 lead against starter Pablo López, who gave up a season-high three homers. Jorge Polanco, who walked 3-for-5, started with a solo homer in the fourth inning to cut the deficit to 5-2. Then a point scored in the seventh on a wild field, bringing the score to 5-3. The Dodgers tackled one in the bottom of the inning, but in the eighth, Trevor Larnach tied it at 6, breaking a three-run homer to right center.
• After Jax restored Los Angeles to the lead, Carlos Correa shrugged off a tough night by walking one out in the ninth against Dodgers closest Evan Phillips. Pinch runner Michael Taylor drove home from first base when Byron Buxton lined up a tying double into the left-center gap. The ball came off Buxton’s bat at 115.1 mph, the second hardest-hit ball of his career. Buxton also started the tying rally in round eight with a 111.5 mph single left. “I’m tired,” Vázquez said with a laugh. “It was a great game for both sides. I think we came back and it was great to see the guys grinding those leads. Larnach, that circuit was important for us. … It was a fun game. It’s a big and electric crowd.
Royce Lewis heads to Triple-A St. Paul
No, athletic trainer Nick Paparesta isn’t surprised that Royce Lewis stole a base in each of the first two games of his Double-A Wichita rehab mission. The prospect’s entire program was designed to be unrestricted every time he started playing.
Almost 50 weeks after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament for the second time, Lewis returned to action, stealing bases on Thursday and Saturday. Lewis, who is expected to join Triple-A St. Paul on Tuesday, also had two hits and three runs scored on Saturday after striking out three in his first game back.
“When we send him to rehab, we send him knowing he has to play baseball and be who he is,” Paparesta said. “I’m not a big fan of sending guys to rehab with restrictions and holding them back. I want them to be able to play baseball the way they want.
For the most part, Agent Scott Boras, who represents Lewis, agrees with that assessment. But given that Lewis tore his ACL on May 29, 2022, for the second time, all parties involved want Lewis to be himself minus any reckless abandonment. For his part, Lewis has talked about taking a more mature approach when he returns this season.
“You learn in the game that one of the hardest things to do is availability,” Boras said. “Availability leads to durability and it leads to the high levels of performance you desire. As a professional athlete, when you are gifted and excited, you have to learn to play content and play with a process and you have to do things because you have to respect the idea of the difficulty of being available on a daily basis. For that, you have to stay in moderation. You cannot go to extremes. It’s part of being a great pro, it’s being available every day. You’re trying to get that across to say, “That’s what we’re doing. That’s how we do it.'”
Right now, Lewis, who is on the 60-day disabled list, only plays third base and shortstop. When he was injured last season, Lewis was playing in center field, where he recorded 67 innings.
The plan is to keep Lewis playing in familiar places – and have him run whenever the opportunity arises.
“It was awesome,” Paparesta said.
Rehab intensifies, Maeda returns to Dodger Stadium
When he arrived at his booth in the visitor clubhouse, Kenta Maeda was greeted with a “Welcome” sign and an assortment of Japanese snacks offered by his former performer. Later, the Dodgers played a funny old clip of Maeda on the big screen and the crowd gave it a loud ovation.
What made Maeda’s first trip to Dodger Stadium even better since being traded is that it comes as the pitcher’s rehabilitation progresses. Maeda has been playing catch for the past few days with the hope that he will throw a mound soon.
“He’s going to come down off the mound and do some dry work and things like that, but throwing the baseball off the mound will probably be towards the end of the week,” Paparesta said.
Maeda still keeps a home in Los Angeles, where he played from 2016 to 2019 before the Twins acquired him for reliever Brusdar Graterol. He wore a throwback Kobe Bryant jersey as part of the team’s NBA jersey steal and said his first comeback brought back a lot of fond memories, especially playing in the World Series.
But he is equally happy with the increase in his baseball activities.
“As far as timing goes, everything has gone well with the rehab progressing and the weather in SoCal is still nice,” Maeda said through an interpreter. “It would be better if I could even pitch in a game, but considering what it is. …Just a simple wrestling game right now. Guess I’ll be throwing long pitches here and there, and once everything is fine, I hope to get off the mound soon.
(Photo of Mookie Betts beating a pitch to Christian Vázquez: Kirby Lee/USA Today)