By Tommy Wiita and Chelsea Dorval
The Minnesota Twins soundly defeated the Chicago White Sox 6-0 at Target Field on April 15. The date signified the 70th anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s debut in the Major Leagues.
More than just another game during the long season, Jackie Robinson Day is celebrated through all 30 Major League teams by wearing the number 42. That number is the only number in professional baseball that is retired by every club.
“He’s the man that made all of this possible for each and every one of us in this clubhouse,” Twins right-fielder Max Kepler said before Saturday’s game. “It’s a great day to remember a big part of baseball history.”
The first Jackie Robinson Day was celebrated in 2004, and the reminder of a man that went through many tough adversities remains clear in player’s minds.
“Today is something special to recognize,” Twins centerfielder Byron Buxton said. “Wouldn’t be here without his courage.”
Robinson played one season in the Negro Baseball League in 1945 before finally getting a shot with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. Through all the racial tension and segregation challenges in his way, Robinson won the National League Rookie of the Year. He led the league with 29 steals that season. Two years later, the Brooklyn second baseman won the batting title with a .342 average and won the National League’s Most Valuable Player award.
Beyond the significance of the game, the Twins and White Sox had a ballgame to play. Each team’s ace took the hill in this one, with Chicago’s Jose Quintana looking for his first win (0-2, 6.17 ERA) and Minnesota’s Ervin Santana (2-0, 0.69) hoping to keep the hot hand burning.
After Santana retired the White Sox one-two-three in the top half of the first inning, the Twins wasted no time in getting the offense going. Leading off, designated hitter Robbie Grossman doubled down the left-field line. First baseman Joe Mauer followed that up with an RBI single to centerfield, scoring Grossman. Third baseman Miguel Sano shot a double to right-center, scoring Mauer from first base. Minnesota would not be done, as shortstop Jorge Polanco spanked a single to center, scoring Sano. After a Chris Gimenez strikeout and an Eduardo Escobar single, Kepler would sail a ball down the right-field line, scoring both runners on base and sliding into third with his third-career triple.
The Twins would hold a 5-0 lead the rest of the way, until an RBI single by Grossman in the bottom of the eighth inning to increase the lead to 6-0. Santana was lights out on the mound, as he would pitch a one-hit shutout. He also fanned seven White Sox hitters during the contest. His record now stands at 3-0 with a jaw-dropping 0.41 earned run average.
Grossman would have himself a day, going two-for-three with two walks, a run scored and an RBI. Buxton, who has been struggling in making consistent contact at the plate, hammered a double to right-center in the bottom of the sixth. If anything, his batting average rose from .081 to .100, and it will take baby steps to get him back on track.