MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — With an important insurance run standing at third base in the speedy Byron Buxton, Minnesota Twins catcher Bobby Wilson tried to pull off a surprise with a sacrifice bunt.
Wilson fouled off the attempt, never a good feeling for a journeyman that has played 329 major league games over the past 11 seasons to miss his chance. He didn’t miss his next opportunity.
Wilson hit a slider from St. Louis reliever Luke Gregerson into the left field stands for a two-run homer to cap a three-run seventh inning and Minnesota beat the Cardinals 4-1 on Tuesday night.
“I don’t think I’ve sniffed a slider in the last week,” Wilson said. “I had to sit on it. (Hitting coach James Rowson) and I before the game, we did some sliders off the machine, just to keep working, because that was a pitch I felt like I kept swinging through.”
It was Wilson’s first major league home run since Sept. 21, 2016 for the Tampa Bay Rays. He has 17 career homers for six different teams in nine major league seasons.
“He’s been around, he’s going to take a good at-bat,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “We saw that when he got a big sac fly in another game. He knows how to get runs in from third. He just stayed back and let an offspeed pitch travel enough to hit it out.”
Jose Berrios (4-4) surrendered one run on two hits and left after hitting Kolten Wong with a pitch with one out in the eighth. Berrios struck out 10 batters.
Addison Reed struck out both batters he faced and Fernando Rodney finished his eighth save in 11 chances with a perfect ninth.
St. Louis has lost five of their past seven games and scored more than three runs once during that span.
“It’s just a short run here, and we haven’t clicked this season,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. “We really haven’t for an extended period of time. It’s not July, it’s still early in the season. It’s going to come around. And until it does, it’s just going to make us keep having to answer questions like these.”
St. Louis reliever Brett Cecil (0-1) allowed a double to Logan Morrison to start the seventh. Morrison scored on Buxton’s bunt attempt when Gregerson threw the ball wide of first and into foul territory.
Wilson was recalled last week when Jason Castro went on the disabled list with a meniscus tear in his right knee.
The 35-year-old Wilson spent the entire 2017 season in the minors with Oklahoma City in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization.
“At this point in my career, I really don’t have a whole lot of worries,” Wilson said. “I can just go play and enjoy it. The group of guys that we have in this clubhouse, they give me the energy to just enjoy the game and play and play free. If I make a mistake, so what? I know that those guys are going to pick me up.”
Berrios had lost three of his past four starts, allowing 18 runs in 18 1/3 innings. The Twins believed they had found the issue with Berrios’ curveball, working to keep his arm speed more in line with his fastball.
“The reality is I wasn’t happy with those last four starts and my mindset wasn’t right,” Berrios said. “I came back to the basics and I worked hard for this outing and the result was there.”
AN EXTENDED STAY
The St. Louis bullpen wasted another quality outing from rookie right-hander Jack Flaherty, who was recalled from Triple-A earlier in the day with Adam Wainwright going on the disabled list. Flaherty had the longest outing of his eight career major league starts with one run allowed in 5 2/3 innings.
Flaherty’s emergence could be a key factor for the Cardinals with Wainwright and Carlos Martinez on the disabled list. Flaherty was cruising until the sixth when he surrendered three consecutive two-out hits to tie the game.
“It’s not about proving, it’s about going out and no matter what the situation is putting the team in position to win the game,” Flaherty said. “I’m not trying to prove anything.”
Cardinals: Martinez is still rehabbing a strain to his right lat and Matheny said it’s unlikely Martinez would be able to return in time to start this weekend at home against Philadelphia.
Twins: 3B Miguel Sano (left hamstring strain) worked out again prior to the game but doesn’t appear close to a return.Molitor said Sano is unable to run at maximum effort.
Twins right-hander Lance Lynn (1-3, 7.34 ERA) will make his first start against his former team on Wednesday afternoon as the two teams wrap up a two-game series. Lynn allowed four runs in 4 2/3 innings in his last start. St. Louis counters with right-hander Miles Mikolas (5-0, 2.51), who has given up one run or less in four of his last five starts.