Banged up, bullpen weak and Buxton-less, the Minnesota Twins are making this work.
Triple plays help, as do five home runs.
And an unexpected boost from a beleaguered band of relief pitchers.
The Twins continue to find ways to win ballgames, even against one of baseball's best teams.
Just wait until they get healthy and the front office does something -- anything -- to bolster the team's relief pitching. Then they'll really get rolling.
If either of those things happen.
The Twins beat the New York Yankees 8-6 on Monday, June 22, before a juiced up Target Field crowd of 34,627 that seemed ready for an October date with the Bronx Bombers. Funny, that historic moniker. The Twins outbombed the Yankees 5-3 on this night, getting solo shots from -- deep breath -- Jorge Polanco, Nelson Cruz, Max Kepler and two from Mitch Garver.
This game had a little bit of everything, start to finish, including Minnesota's lively bats coming to life again.
"We got a chance to see the results tonight. The guys swung the bats great and they gave us a cushion we could lean on," Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. "This is just kind of showing the types of at-bats we've had recently, and you could say the entire year. This is a night where you see the results. You don't always see the results. ... You don't always hit the ball right on the barrel where you want. Tonight was a night when we did."
It's a long way from the playoffs, but the atmosphere inside the ballpark said otherwise. With Cleveland winning earlier in the day, the Twins maintained a three-game lead in the American League Central.
The Twins beat the Yankees in a game that mattered.
"Obviously a super-talented team over there. As is Oakland, as is Houston, as is L.A. I mean, those are the teams that you're going to have to play at the end of the season if you want to haul away the trophy at the end," Garver said. "These are the games that are really, really good for us because we're playing against the top-level, mid-season, kind of coming down the stretch. It's good to kind of channel your emotions and play the game the right way. I think our guys did an awesome job of that tonight."
The Twins will take it, given a tentative start from pitcher Martin Perez, who gave up five runs and all three Yankees homers in four innings.
As has been Minnesota's blueprint in this memorable season, it found a way to make it work.
Martin began the game by walking DJ LeMahieu and Aaron Judge, setting up an early disaster. But Martin coaxed dangerous Edwin Encarnacion into a ground ball to third base. Luis Arraez stepped on the bag before throwing to Jonathan Schoop on second base, who spun and fired a strike to Miguel Sano at first to nip Encarnacion by a half-step.
Triple play, going 5-4-3. It was only the Twins' 13th in team history dating to 1961.
"It obviously got us out of the inning in a spot where we were not in the best situation," Baldelli said. "But it also provides a spark energy-wise, it kind of gets everybody going. We reset whatever was going on, turned it around and started putting some runs on the board. ... It was a big moment in the game and very early."
Sano played first instead of C.J. Cron, who went on the injured list for the second time this season with right thumb inflammation. That opened the door for the valuable, quickly becoming legendary, Arraez to play third base.
It's what the Twins have done all season, mixing and matching as key players miss significant stretches with injuries. Most important on that list is center fielder Byron Buxton, who sat again Monday as he recovers from a concussion.
The Twins' bullpen, battered and beaten by opposing teams and fans alike, allowed just one run over the game's final five innings. Tyler Duffey, Lewis Thorpe, Ryne Harper and Taylor Rogers weren't always clean, but the only run they allowed came in the sixth on an RBI single by Mike Tauchmann off Thorpe.
To which you might ask, "Who is Lewis Thorpe?"
Answer: A 23-year-old rookie left-hander from Melbourne, Australia, who was called up from Triple-A Rochester on Monday. He made one spot start for the Twins in late June, was fairly impressive, and has been just OK as a starter in the minors.
But he was good enough against the Yankees, earning a third inning of work after getting through a 1-2-3 seventh inning.
"I think you can point to our bullpen as doing beyond a fantastic job tonight," Baldelli said. "They brought us where we needed to be. We put some runs on the board and being able to go out there and go five innings, giving up one run, is exactly what we needed. It was a high-caliber effort by everybody involved."
It's the story of 2019 so far for this ballclub. Finding a way, somehow.