Ryan LaMarre started this series as Minnesota’s extra player. He got the Twins a split in extra innings, and gave Eddie Rosario a memory he’ll never forget.
Rosario scored the winning run in his homeland in the bottom of the 16th inning, coming around on LaMarre’s single that gave Minnesota a 2-1 win over the Cleveland Indians on Wednesday night, and a split of the teams’ two-game series in Puerto Rico.
The game took 5 hours, 13 minutes — with the teams combining for 117 at-bats. They were a combined 0 for 21 with runners in scoring position until LaMarre ended it around 12:23 a.m.
“It was a heck of a baseball game,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “Obviously, just try to find a way to put some points on the board and find a way to win. Outstanding pitching on both sides.”
Rosario led off the 16th with a single and went to third when Logan Morrison’s grounder — which could have been a double-play ball — got past second baseman Jason Kipnis. Eduardo Escobar was intentionally walked to load the bases with none out, and LaMarre came through with the game-ending swing.
LaMarre was brought to San Juan as the Twins’ 26th player; Major League Baseball allowed each club an extra body for the series. LaMarre didn’t even come into the game until the 10th, and was 3 for 4.
“He’s a nice guy to have around,” Molitor said.
The game took so long that Minnesota’s Joe Mauer and Zach Duke both aged a year — they turn 35 on Thursday, which meant their birthdays started around the 16th inning.
The teams were scoreless until trading solo homers in the 14th. Edwin Encarnacion got his off the left-field foul pole for Cleveland, and Miguel Sano tied it for the Twins leading off the bottom half against former Minnesota pitcher Matt Belisle.
Cleveland used 23 players, with only three starting pitchers left on the bench by game’s end. Josh Tomlin (0-2) made his first relief appearance since 2016 and took the loss though the only run he allowed was unearned.
Minnesota used eight pitchers, Alan Busenitz (1-0) the last of them. Busenitz worked the last two innings.
The game was played hours after an island-wide blackout hit Puerto Rico in the morning, though officials quickly determined the game at Hiram Bithorn Stadium could go on as scheduled with the help of backup systems.
Even with a split, the visit brought back good memories for Indians manager Terry Francona, who played and managed at Hiram Bithorn in his winter league days.
“When we play games, normally when something happens you hear something,” Francona said. “But here there’s a constant going on, whether it’s people yelling or hitting those sticks or bands or whatever music. It’s a little different.”
Both starters were brilliant, each throwing seven scoreless innings of three-hit ball. Jose Berrios finished with five strikeouts and no walks for Minnesota, and Cleveland’s Carlos Carrasco struck out seven and walked one.
The game started with Puerto Rican vs. Puerto Rican, Berrios vs. the Indians’ Francisco Lindor, Cleveland’s offensive hero in Tuesday night’s win. Berrios set the tone in three pitches: Lindor fouled off the first two, then couldn’t check his swing on the third.
From there, the pitcher’s duel was on.
Berrios’ ERA fell to 1.63, and some fans were unhappy when he got pulled after 84 pitches. Carrasco’s ERA dropped to 2.60.
“I’m not satisfied,” Berrios said. “But we got the win. That’s what matters.”
Twins: CF Byron Buxton missed his second consecutive game with migraines and was placed on the 10-day DL retroactive to Sunday. His spot on the roster went to LaMarre.
Berrios became only the second Puerto Rican pitcher to start a regular-season MLB game at Hiram Bithorn; the other was Javier Vazquez, who made four starts there in 2003 when the Montreal Expos used San Juan as an alternate home site.
It wasn’t just players returning to Puerto Rico for work. Umpire Roberto Ortiz, who’s been in the big leagues for about two years, was on the crew assigned to the series. He was at third on Tuesday and second on Wednesday.
Twins: Off Thursday, then RHP Lance Lynn (0-1, 5.00) starts Friday at Tampa Bay and RHP Chris Archer (1-1, 7.84). Lynn hasn’t pitched since April 9, getting pushed back because of the Twins’ weather-related postponements last week.