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.”