HOUSTON — Royce Lewis is back.
And he made sure everyone knows it, too.
One year ago, to the day, Lewis crashed into the outfield wall, partially tearing his anterior cruciate ligament. A second knee surgery and a grueling year of rehab followed. Monday, the day he was eligible to come off the injured list, the Minnesota Twins activated him and inserted him into the lineup, hitting fifth.
“The 60-day IL stint being perfectly timed is really special and amazing. It feels so surreal,” Lewis said before Monday’s game. “I think something special is going to happen tonight. I couldn’t tell you what, but it just feels like it’s kind of like that time. I’m just excited.”
It turns out, “something special” looks like a three-run home run and a two-out game-tying single off all-star closer Ryan Pressly in the ninth inning. The rookie’s late-inning heroics kept the Twins’ chances alive, and an inning later, Ryan Jeffers socked the first pitch he saw into the Crawford Boxes for a two-run home run, lifting the Twins to a 7-5 10-inning win over the Astros at Minute Maid Park.
The dramatic late-inning turn of events came after the Astros had a big moment of their own, turning the game upside down.
Brock Stewart, on in the seventh after starter Sonny Gray had allowed the first two batters of the inning to reach, needed just one more strike to get himself out of the inning.
Jeffers was setting up to receive a high pitch. The pitch was not high and the catcher never received it. Instead, Stewart left the ball over the heart of the plate and star second baseman Jose Altuve did not miss it. Altuve’s grand slam gave the Astros their first lead of the night, igniting a hometown crowd that had had little to cheer about in the earlier innings.
That wiped out a lead that the Twins had been protecting since Lewis, in his second at-bat of the game, hit an opposite-field home run that stayed just fair. The ball just barely got out, appearing to nick the foul pole, and a pumped-up Lewis returned to the Twins dugout, slipping on the team’s celebratory fishing vest for the first time.
Lewis fired up the Twins’ dugout yet again, innings later, after Alex Kirilloff, who reached base five times in the win, had walked before him to set up the ninth-inning situation for him.
Closer Jhoan Duran capped off the win with a pair of scoreless innings, striking out star Yordan Alvarez to finish the game.
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