Denard Span's walk-off hit ends longest game in Target Field history
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Following a 42-minute rain delay that cleared out most of a sell-out crowd, Denard Span ended the longest game in Target Field history with a two-out single in the bottom of the 15th inning to give the Minnesota Twins a 5-4 win over the Milwaukee Brewers.
Span's hit came after a chaotic sequence.
The 15th-inning rally started against side-winding right-hander Tim Dillard with a leadoff single by Trevor Plouffe and a one-out single by Brian Dozier. Jamey Carroll then delivered a sharp single to right-field, and on the play Plouffe -- running from second base -- rounded third hard while third-base coach Steve Liddle held up the stop sign. By the time Plouffe could slam on the brakes he was caught in a rundown and eventually called out for running outside the base path.
Dozier and Carroll moved into scoring position on the play, and Span ended the game with a hard single to right field off left-hander Juan Perez.
"Perez was coming in, and I asked what pitches he had," Span said. "(They) told me fastball, slider, curveball. I said (to Ben Revere), 'We're about to go home, man. Let's go.' He looked at me and said, 'Let's go.' I said, 'Alright man, it's time to eat some dinner.'"
The 15-inning game marked the most played by the Twins since July 3, 2009 when they played 16 innings against the Detroit Tigers.
"Usually these extra-inning games, it's really just seeing who's mentally tough," Revere said. "You know you're tired, especially with the rain delay we had. Everybody's tired. But it's one of those main things to see who's mentally tough and physically tough."
The Brewers' best chance in extras came in the 14th inning when Rickie Weeks came up with runners on the corners and two outs against Jeff Gray, who was in his third inning of work. But Weeks bounced weakly to shortstop to end the inning.
Milwaukee also had runners on first and second with one out in the 15th inning, but Ryan Braun grounded out to shortstop as well.
Rain stopped play after the 11th inning.
Playing with a sore hamstring, Joe Mauer singled three times in four at-bats off Brewers' ace Zack Greinke, including the game-tying hit with two outs in the bottom of the seventh. Mauer's second hit -- a liner into the right-field corner -- ordinarily would have been a double, but he pulled up with a single due to the hamstring and bruised quad he suffered in a home-plate collision with Rickie Weeks in the second inning.
"I kind of prepared for some sort of collision, but he kind of darted in a little bit further than I thought," said Mauer, who was replaced by a pinch runner after his game-tying hit. "Coming in hard, it's part of the game. ... After that happened I really didn't feel the hamstring too bad."
Greinke shut the Twins down for most of the first six innings, but he wound up being charged with four earned runs on 11 hits and two walks in eight innings.
Nick Blackburn was on the verge of perhaps his best outing of the season, but Corey Hart got to him with two outs in the top of the fifth inning with a three-run blast to opposite field that gave the Brewers a 4-1 edge.
The 30-year-old right-hander almost pitched himself out of the jam. The frame started with a double by Norichika Aoki and a bunt single by Nyjer Morgan, putting runners on the corners with nobody out for Milwaukee.
Blackburn buckled down and got Ryan Braun to pop up to second baseman Carroll, then he struck out Aramis Ramirez on three pitches. After falling behind Hart 3-1, Blackburn pumped a fastball in to fill the count. But his next pitch -- a 93-mph heater right down the middle of the plate -- landed in the right-field seats for a three-run homer.
Blackburn was charged with four earned runs on nine hits and two walks in six innings. He struck out three and induced 13 groundballs out of 22 batted balls. Blackburn's reaction just after Hart made contact -- a roll of the head and a slumping of the shoulders -- summed up his entire season so far. He has allowed four earned runs or more in seven of his 10 starts, and Sunday marked the 17th consecutive outing in which he has failed to pitch at least seven innings.
"It was a mistake," Blackburn said about his pitch to Hart. "It was quite a blow right there to see that ball go out. Unfortunately you're not going to throw every pitch perfect, and the timing of that pitch was bad."
The Twins had the game-winning run on third base with two outs in the 11th and 12th innings but were unable to come up with the big hit. Denard Span grounded out in the driving rain to end the 11th. Ryan Doumit grounded out with the bases loaded to end the 12th.
Greinke pitched a gem for the first six innings, but the Twins were able to capitalize with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning on RBI singles by Carroll, Ben Revere and Mauer to tie the game, 4-4.
"That's pretty big," Mauer said. "The guy has won a Cy Young, and he's a tough right-hander, one of the best in the game. To come back like that was big."
4:52: Length of game.
3: Difficult catches made by right fielder Revere, including a diving effort on the warning track to rob Aoki of an extra-base hit in the 11th.
20: Hits for the Twins.
15: Hits for the Brewers.
1.7: Home runs allowed per nine innings by Blackburn this season.
2: Throwing errors by Trevor Plouffe, one of which came with two outs in the sixth inning and Blackburn sitting at 89 pitches.
4: Strikeouts for Josh Willingham.
.314: Mauer's batting average.
54: Pitches thrown by Gray. "I was just trying to eat up as many innings as possible without giving up runs," he said. "It's big. Our bullpen's been pretty solid all year. We feed off of each other."
• Mauer is still battling some hamstring tightness, but he plans to play through it. On Sunday morning Mauer told Gardenhire he wanted to catch, despite the soreness.
• Closer Matt Capps won't pitch until at least Tuesday due to shoulder soreness.
• RHP P.J. Walters received a cortisone shot earlier in the week to help alleviate pain in his right shoulder. He remains on the 15-day disabled list and will stay back in Minneapolis to rehab when the Twins hit the road.
"I had to show Ben some of my old Peter Warrick, Florida State moves. He was chasing me. I had to stop on a dime and cut back on him, and he tried to reach for me and I cut back on him again. And finally I gave up."
-- Span on the walk-off celebration