The three-batter inning of middle relief and the seven-pitch, no-drama save were things the Twins expected from their trade-deadline haul of newcomers.
The game-winning, two-run double, though? Chalk that up as an unexpected tip.
Michael Fulmer pitched an inning of scoreless relief Wednesday, and Jorge Lopez needed only seven pitches to earn his 20th save and first as a Twin. But Sandy Leon, the least-noted acquisition among the Twins' four newcomers, made the best first impression of all. The journeyman catcher contributed the lone extra-base hit of the day, doubling home two runs in the second inning, and the Twins made them stand up for a 4-1 victory over the Tigers at Target Field.
"I'm going to do anything I can to help the team win — hitting or catching," Leon said with a smile after helping Minnesota win a series for the first time since these teams met 10 days ago in Detroit. "I know catching is my strong point, but I feel good hitting. I'll stick with my approach, get a good pitch to hit, and try to help my team there, too."
It worked right from the start. Leon, short of sleep after flying in early Wednesday from Columbus, Ohio, where he was playing with the Guardians' Class AAA team, turned on a cutter in his first at-bat as a Twin and yanked it sharply down the left-field line, scoring Jose Miranda and Nick Gordon. The Twins got two more runs later, with Byron Buxton scoring them both, one on a Carlos Correa single, the other on a Gio Urshela sacrifice fly.
Leon, 33, helped behind the plate, too, guiding Joe Ryan and four relievers as they limited the Tigers' lineup to only four singles and a walk, while striking out 14. All that despite working on little sleep.
"That's what Sandy Leon does. He takes control of games from behind the plate, and we saw what the results can look like," Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. "Everyone on the field has a ton of confidence in his decisionmaking and the way he handles people. It's uplifting."
For Ryan, it was an encouraging bounce-back from last week's out-of-character pummeling by the Padres, who walloped five home runs and scored 10 off the rookie righthander. He had only one hiccup in his five-inning stint, hitting both Willi Castro and Tucker Barnhart with errant pitches, then surrendering a two-out run-scoring single to Riley Greene.
"Today, it felt like [my command] was building up a little bit more as the game went along, so that was exciting," Ryan said. Working with Leon "was great, really smooth. He asked a lot of great questions in pregame meetings. I felt confident with him."
Speaking of confidence, there was plenty of it in the Twins clubhouse after they got a look at their new bullpen additions.
Fulmer blanked his former Tiger teammates, striking out Eric Haase and throwing out Harold Castro when he tried to steal. After Caleb Thielbar, back from the injured list, struck out two of the three hitters he faced, and Jhoan Duran allowed only a walk in an inning of setup work, Lopez finished up, needing only seven pitches to retire the Tigers in order.
"We saw some guys with electric stuff. They made good pitches. We saw some elite sliders from Fulmer. We saw Lopez go out and have as dominant and clean of an innings as you want to see," Baldelli said. "It's exciting to turn the ball over to those guys."
Even Ryan, limited to only five innings and 78 pitches with that rested bullpen ready to work, enjoyed the show.
"Pretty exciting to watch. It was like having a cheat code coming in with some video game players," Ryan said. "They got it done. Pretty electric."