It was an excellent season all around for the Minnesota Twins in 2015. The Twins were in a race for a playoff spot until the last series of the season. They were officially eliminated from the playoffs in the 161st game of the season, a 5-1 loss on Saturday to the Kansas City Royals.
Although the team missed the playoffs, there are still many fond memories that us fans of Twins Territory can take away from the season. We witnessed the debuts of Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano and Eddie Rosario. Late season call up Tyler Duffey provided some much needed help in the starting rotation. What is even more remarkable is the fact that starters Ervin Santana and Ricky Nolasco were not with the team for significant portions of the season, Santana having to serve an 80-game suspension for testing positive for performance enhancing drugs and Nolasco missing most of the season due to an impinchment in his ankle.
When I look back on the season, there are many highlights that stand out for me as being memorable. They would include Kenny Vargas’s game winning home run against the St. Louis Cardinals to give the Twins a 2-1 walk off victory, Aaron Hicks’s catch in the fourth inning off the bat of Chris Parmelee in the Twins 4-2 win over the Baltimore Orioles that was similar to the catch Willie Mays made in the 1954 World Series and Trevor Plouffe’s walk off home run early in the season against the Cleveland Indians in the bottom of the eleventh to give the Twins their first walk off win of the season.
There were so many wonderful memories from this season, that it’s hard to pick what would be my top ten or even the top five. But, after much deliberation, I’ve finally decided on my top five moments from this season.
#5 - Eddie Rosario’s Debut
May 6 was a memorable debut for one Twins prospect. Rosario had been called up two days prior. That night against the Oakland Athletics, he would make a big splash in his debut. Facing lefty Scott Kazmir, Rosario hit the first pitch for a home run to give the Twins a 1-0 lead. The Twins would go on to whip the A’s, 13-0.
With that home run, Rosario becomes the 29th player in MLB history to homer on the first pitch he saw. He also becomes the sixth Twins to homer in his first at bat. Rosario’s debut is certainly one that he and Twins fans alike will remember.
#4 Byron Buxton’s Game-Saving Catch
Perhaps the most nerve-racking victory of the season occurred on September 5 in Houston against the Astros. The Twins had already lost the series opener 8-0 the night before. This game would feature the projected outfield of the future featuring Hicks, Buxton and Rosario. They would all make major contributions to win.
With the Twins taking a 3-1 lead heading into the bottom of the ninth inning, Kevin Jepsen came on to get the save, but he was very shaky that night. He gave up a home run to Jed Lowrie and would also work the bases loaded on a hit and two walks. With two outs, Jose Altuve hit a ball over Jepsen’s head that appeared to be ticketed to center field. Instead, Buxton makes a tumbling catch, sealing the victory for the Twins.
#3 Brian Dozier Hits Walk Off Against The Orioles
On July 6, the Twins opened up a 7-game home stand with a three-game series against the Baltimore Orioles. Heading into the series, both teams were tied for the final Wild Card Spot. Before the game, it was announced that second baseman Brian Dozier was picked as one of the final five candidates that fans would vote on to represent the American League in the All-Star game. This would be a game where Dozier would make a statement.
The score was tied at 2-2 in the bottom of the tenth inning. Earlier in the game, Hicks had made the before mentioned catch that was similar to the one Mays made back in the 1954 World Series. With one out, Danny Santana singled, setting up the dramatic walk off two-run home run that Dozier would hit off of Tommy Hunter.
#2 Miguel Sano Hits Go Ahead Home Run
On September 9, the Twins played probably one of their most intense games of the season. Pitcher Mike Pelfrey and Kris Medlen kept the game scoreless through the first five innings. Kurt Suzuki would break the scoreless tie in the top of the sixth with a home run off Medlen to give the Twins a 1-0 lead. But, the Twins bullpen couldn’t hold the lead and the score would be tied at two after nine innings.
The game would remain tied into the top of the twelfth when Sano provided the fireworks. Facing Royals reliever Franklin Moralez, Sano hit a 3-2 pitch way over the left field fence. The ball would land on the roof of one of the buildings. Sano’s game winning pinch-hit home run was the first the Twins had since May of 2013. It would also give the Twins three wins in their past six games against Kansas City and Houston, teams that would go on to the playoffs and would also keep the Twins in Wild Card contention.
#1 Brian Dozier Caps 7-Run Rally
This moment is going to be #1 in the minds of Twins fans this season. This will be one of the most remembered comebacks in Twins history.
On July 10, the Twins had a 6-1 deficit against the Detroit Tigers heading into the bottom of the ninth inning. The Twins would score four runs with the key hit being a two-run single from Santana. With two runners on, Dozier would hit a three-run home run off Detroit’s closer Joakim Soria, giving Minnesota an 8-6 victory. The Tigers would never fully recover from this loss which would send them out of contention for the playoffs.
It’s been a wonderful season for us Twins fans to follow our local Boys of Summer. This season has provided us with many fun memories. We came so close to making it to the playoffs. We were in it until almost the very end. Breaking the streak of losing 90+ games for four straight years has the Twins fans of Twins Territory optimistic of what is to come.
Image courtesy of: Keith Allison