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Gordon blasts mammoth grand slam, gets singular salute in Twins win

Minneapolis Star Tribune 8/31/2022 Phil Miller, Star Tribune
Nick Gordon of the Twins celebrates after hitting a grand slam in the fifth inning Tuesday against the Red Sox. © Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune/Star Tribune/TNS Nick Gordon of the Twins celebrates after hitting a grand slam in the fifth inning Tuesday against the Red Sox.

About three hours before first pitch on Tuesday, Nick Gordon walloped a batting-practice meatball high into the cheap seats above right field, a blast so prodigious it got a reaction from his teammates surrounding the batting cage and some fans sitting nearby.

But it couldn't compare to the blast, and ovation, he got once the game began.

Gordon, who doubled home the Twins' first two runs in the second inning, fouled off three pitches with the bases loaded in the fifth inning. And on an 0-and-2 count, he pummeled a fastball almost to the same spot, his first career grand slam and the big blow in the Twins' fifth consecutive victory, 10-5 over the Red Sox.

The 19,909 fans roared, but his teammates gave him an even bigger honor by remaining in the dugout as Gordon took the field for the sixth inning, allowing him to bask in a standing ovation for his six-RBI night.

"At first I was like, oh man, where are the guys? Had to make sure it was three outs," Gordon said afterwards. "Then I looked back and — that was awesome. That was definitely an amazing feeling. I can't really even put it into words."

His manager has the same problem describing Gordon's breakout August, in which the second-year player has appeared in virtually every game, batted .312, slugged .506 with 15 RBI, and saved his team during a rash of injuries by playing both infield and outfield.

"I mean, how about Nick Gordon?" Rocco Baldelli gushed. "Those are the things you remember always as a player. He's not going to forget that. The swing, it was magnificent."

BOXSCORE: Twins 10, Boston 5

Best of all, it happened immediately after the Twins squandered the lead that Gordon had provided them. Jake Cave added a solo home run to make it a three-run lead, but it didn't last long.

Boston strung together two hits and a sacrifice fly by Rafael Devers in the fourth inning — an uprising that could have been worse if not for an inning-ending double play started by, yep, second baseman Gordon. And in the fifth, the Red Sox knocked Twins starter Chris Archer, and eventually reliever Caleb Thielbar, out of the game with four hits in five at-bats, singles by Tommy Pham and Xander Bogaerts driving in runs. A bases-loaded wild pitch by Michael Fulmer scored the go-ahead run, and it appeared that the Twins would lose Archer's start for the ninth consecutive time.

MLB Standings

Enter Gordon. First, Carlos Correa reached base when right fielder Alex Verdugo dropped a fly ball on the run for an error. Red Sox starter Kutter Crawford then walked Max Kepler, and reliever Ryan Brasier hit Jose Miranda with the first pitch he threw. That loaded the bases for Gordon, but the threat appeared minimal when he fouled off Brasier's first two pitches, each a fastball clocked at 96 mph or faster, to dig himself a two-strike hole.

Brasier tried a slider, which Gordon fouled off to stay alive, then went back to the fastball.

"I was just thinking, hit something hard," Gordon said. "I know he's got a really good fastball, so I just didn't want to be late."

He wasn't. The pitch got too much of the plate, and Gordon drove it 416 feet, near where his batting-practice beauty landed, for his sixth homer of the season and first career grand slam. It's only the sixth Twins grand slam on an 0-and-2 count in the past 35 seasons, and first since Eddie Rosario connected against the Rays' Sergio Romo on May 20, 2018.

"It's pretty incredible what he's been able to do this year," Archer said. "He started the season, he didn't really play a lot. Some injuries happened, and he's made the most out of his opportunities."

The Twins, having outscored the Giants and Red Sox by 34-12 in the five days since dragging themselves home from Houston, weren't done scoring. Gary Sanchez hit a solo home run into the third deck in left field in the sixth inning, and Luis Arraez and Correa each singled home runs in the eighth to help the Twins reach double digits for the first time since June 27 in Cleveland.

Long shots

Six Twins batters have hit grand slams on 0-2 counts in the past 35 seasons.

• Jim Dwyer vs. Bobby Thigpen (Chicago White Sox), June 10, 1989

• Trevor Plouffe vs. Sonny Gray (Oakland), July 17, 2015

• Eddie Rosario vs. Braden Shipley (Arizona), Aug. 20, 2017

• Joe Mauer vs. Chris Rowley (Toronto), Sept. 17, 2017

• Eddie Rosario vs. Sergio Romo (Tampa Bay), May 20, 2018

• Nick Gordon vs. Ryan Brasier (Boston), Aug. 30, 2022

©2022 StarTribune. Visit startribune.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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