Correa sparks 7-run 8th as Twins take series in Toronto- Uncover Daily News


TORONTO — In an instant, everything intensified for the Twins. And when the time came for a big swing, Carlos Correa delivered with authority.

Minnesota trailed for most of Saturday’s 9-4 victory, but three straight singles in the eighth inning presented a shiny stage for a man known for emphatic performances. With his club down two runs, the Twins’ shortstop unloaded on a hanging slider from Blue Jays sidewinder Adam Cimber.

The blast itself wasn’t a no-doubter, but Correa knew he clubbed it. As the liner soared into the left-field seats, a sold-out Rogers Centre gasped, shocked to have watched its home club blow a late lead. Correa, on the other hand, was ecstatic, waving to his dugout before touching first and soaking in what was arguably his biggest hit of the Twins’ season.

“That felt really good,” Correa said. “I’m not going to lie. Bases loaded, we’re down, and [to] just turn the game upside down like that. It was a great one.”

The Blue Jays folded after Correa’s blast, and Minnesota smacked away with hits, topped off by a thunderous three-run homer by Max Kepler to make it a seven-run eighth inning.

“It’s nice to just pile on and get a lot of at-bats,” said Twins manager Rocco Baldelli. “We’re jumping on top of each other, and the situation compounded in our favor really nicely because our at-bats were good. … There was a lot going on in a short period of time, and I liked it. I like it when we do that.”

As it turns out, there’s some precedent for the Twins’ mashing of Jays pitchers on the road. After Saturday’s hit parade, Minnesota has now homered in 16 straight games at Rogers Centre, with a total of 35 long balls during that span.

Correa did the honors in this contest, but it hasn’t been all sunshine since he signed a six-year, $200 million pact to remain in Minnesota. He’s still a whiz on defense and a respected voice in the clubhouse, but the bat has been slow to get cooking. The 28-year-old entered Saturday toting a career-low .212 batting average — though his big hit reminded everyone of what he’s capable of.

“That’s why he’s back here,” said Joe Ryan, who delivered his 10th quality start of the year. “Obviously a great player and it’s just good to see him hitting the ball a little harder right now. … He’s been the same guy all year, so I think that’s great. Great for the team and awesome to see him break the game open here today.”

As Baldelli put it, when Correa goes, so goes the Twins batting order.

“When your go-to guys go out there and crack a grand slam when you need it, I think it fires everybody else up,” Baldelli said.

With Correa leading the way and the offense popping off for 12 hits, it was easy to overlook Edouard Julien’s contributions to the Twins’ victory. The 24-year-old, who arrived in Toronto late Friday as an injury replacement for Jorge Polanco, hit leadoff Saturday and finished 2-for-3 with a walk, a stolen base and a run scored.

A native of Quebec City (about a seven-hour drive from Toronto), Julien grew up attending three or four Blue Jays games a year. He took plenty of energy from his first opportunity to play an MLB game in Toronto and backed up all that emotion with some stellar play.

“It means a lot,” Julien said. “I’ve been dreaming my whole life to play here.”

Julien’s contributions, while significant in this resounding win, also carry a long-term impact. The Twins are banged up at the moment, with three of their most established hitters — Polanco, Byron Buxton and Joey Gallo — all shelved due to injuries. As a consequence, Minnesota’s batting orders have been giant turnstiles of platoon players swapping in and out.

Yet, through the roster churn and some early deficits over the last few weeks, the Twins haven’t compromised their commitment to grind out at-bats.

“We didn’t get much going early on, and in no way did that affect anybody’s approach later on in the game, and nobody threw away any of that. And everyone just kept working,” Baldelli said.

If you parachuted into this game for the eighth inning onward, there’s no way you’d realize this club had just shaken off a five-game losing skid. Through the first two games of this series, the Twins engine — from offense to defense and pitching — has pumped quite smoothly. Now the chance at a sweep hangs in the balance Sunday.

“We want our guys to just keep working, and if we do, I think our talent rises and we’ll see what we’re made of,” added Baldelli.


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