Eddie Rosario, Miguel Sano and Josh Donaldson homered as the Minnesota Twins clinched a second consecutive postseason berth with an 8-1 triumph over the Chicago Cubs on Saturday night.
The Twins are guaranteed at least a wild-card berth. They trail the Chicago White Sox by three games in the AL Central with six games to play. The White Sox have eight games left.
”It’s special in there,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. ”You only get so many opportunities to earn something like that, to celebrate it. We’re going to celebrate every time we have the opportunity. The guys are ready. They’re just ready to see what comes next.
Coming off a no-hitter on Sunday versus Milwaukee, Cubs starter Alec Mills (5-4) wasn’t nearly as sharp in this one, allowing four runs and six hits in six-plus innings. He struck out seven and walked one as Chicago’s five-game winning streak ended.
”Baseball’s funny; I actually think my stuff today was better than it was last time,” Mills said. ”I know that may sound crazy. I made a couple of mistakes and the Twins took advantage.”
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Rosario and Mitch Garver had a two-run pinch-hit single as Minnesota rebounded after dropping four of five on the current road trip against both Chicago teams.
The Twins, who won the division last year, will make back-to-back playoff appearances for the first time since 2009-10.
Minnesota starter Michael Pineda (2-0) permitted one run on four hits in five innings.
After Mills struck out the first two batters of the game, Rosario homered on the first pitch he saw for a 1-0 lead. The Cubs tied it in the second on a RBI double by David Bote.
In the sixth, Rosario hit an RBI single for a 2-1 lead.
The Twins broke it open with a five-run seventh. Sano’s leadoff homer – over the left-field bleachers and onto Waveland Avenue – made it 3-1. Max Kepler followed with a double to left to chase Mills.
Jorge Polanco had an infield single against reliever Josh Osich, who then hit Marwin Gonzalez to load the bases. Donaldson, pinch hitting for Ehire Adrianza, hit a grounder to shortstop that Javier Baez bobbled. Baez picked the ball up and fired home, but the throw bounced and couldn’t be handled by catcher Willson Contreras as Kepler scored.
Garver, batting for Ryan Jeffers, followed with a two-run single to make it 6-1, and Byron Buxton capped the rally with an RBI single.
Donaldson added a solo shot in the ninth.
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