Twins win with 9th-inning rally; Castro stars again as magic number drops to 1

Bobby Nightengale, Star Tribune on

Published in Baseball

CINCINNATI — If Wednesday was the Twins' last game before clinching an American League Central Division title, it was a fitting way to earn a trip to the postseason.

Thrilling, too.

The Twins built their roster with a focus on depth. After injuries to Carlos Correa and Royce Lewis in the past two days, Willi Castro turned into a one-man wrecking crew and Kyle Farmer provided the game-tying hit in the ninth inning.

Castro jump-started the offense on a day they struck out 14 times against Cincinnati Reds starter Hunter Greene, and Jorge Polanco — one of the longest-tenured Twins players — delivered a go-ahead, two-run single with two outs in the ninth inning as the Twins rallied for a 5-3 comeback win at Great American Ball Park.

The Twins' magic number to secure their first playoff berth since 2020 dropped to one with Cleveland's 6-2 loss to Kansas City, and they could clinch as early as Thursday.

"When it happens, no matter what it looks like, whether it's Thursday, Friday, later on throughout the week, that's special because it's a group of men that have set out to achieve something," Twins acting manager Jayce Tingler said. "It's not our big goal, but it's a step in what we're shooting for."


Castro, who supplied the lone blemish to Greene's outing when he hit a solo homer in the seventh inning, opened the ninth inning against Reds All-Star closer Alexis Díaz with a bunt single that rolled past the right side of the mound.

Castro took off for second base on Díaz's next pitch, and the throw from catcher Luke Maile skipped past second baseman Jonathan India and rolled into center field, allowing Castro to advance to third. Farmer blooped the next pitch into right field for a game-tying RBI single, only the third blown save of the season for Díaz.

"Bad Bunny, he's doing it all, man," Polanco said, referring to Castro. "He's robbing homers, hitting homers, diving catches. He's just a great ballplayer."

The Twins loaded the bases after Christian Vázquez drew a one-out walk and Ryan Jeffers was intentionally walked with left-hander Sam Moll on the mound. After a successful double steal by Farmer and Vázquez, the decision to walk Jeffers backfired when Polanco pulled a two-run single through the right side of the infield.


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