Jose Miranda was the epitome of excitement.
Eyes wide, mouth agape, unable to stop jumping up and down.
Pretty much what one would expect from a rookie who for the first time got a hit to give his team a walkoff victory.
The Twins — who trailed Baltimore for almost the entire game by as many as three runs — pulled off their second consecutive walkoff, beating the Orioles 4-3 on Saturday at Target Field. On Friday, it was Byron Buxton's two-run homer that was the difference in the bottom of the ninth.
These victories have been a 180-spin from the final two games in Cleveland, when the Twins were also part of walkoffs, just on the losing side. The Twins (45-36) gained 1½ games on the Guardians, who were swept at home in a doubleheader by the Yankees, and now lead Cleveland by three games in the AL Central. The Orioles (35-44) languish in last place in the AL East.
Twins manager Rocco Baldelli called the past two wins "exhilarating."
"It's two in a row now where we've needed something really big against one of the better bullpens in the league. The stuff that those guys throw at you, no matter who they bring out of the pen, it's scary kind of stuff," Baldelli said. "You better be ready when you step up to the plate, and our guys have been up to it."
Twins starter Sonny Gray gave up all three Baltimore runs, one apiece in the second through fourth innings. But Jharel Cotton took the mound in the sixth and didn't give up any more runs through his three innings.
"When you see Sonny Gray go out there and grind for five innings, you know you've got to pick him up," Cotton said. "And basically my job was to come in and keep the score where it was at, and luckily I did that. I gave the team a chance, and they came through."
Meanwhile, the Twins put their first run on the board on Nick Gordon's solo home run in the seventh, which ended Baltimore starter Jordan Lyles' day, exiting after 6⅓ innings, having given up four hits and one walk with seven strikeouts. Carlos Correa's sacrifice fly added another run in the eighth.
Emilio Pagan — who was a factor in all of the Twins' recent blown leads against Cleveland — then had a strong 1-2-3 ninth, striking out two.
Despite their last-place standing, the Orioles have the sixth-best bullpen in the major leagues with a collective 3.26 ERA. Jorge Lopez has been a big part of that with his 1.69 ERA. Before this series, he had given up only seven runs in 32 games.
Lopez also hadn't given up any home runs, but against the Twins this series, he has given up homers to back-to-back batters. Buxton had the walkoff shot Friday, then Jorge Polanco tied the score at 3-3 with a leadoff homer to center in the ninth inning Saturday.
Miranda said he came into his pivotal at-bat — with one out and runners on first and third after Alex Kirilloff doubled and Gary Sanchez singled — knowing he could drive in the winner. With the count two strikes, he dialed in his focus even more and smacked the 99-mile-per-hour sinker to left field.
Miranda — who ascended from Class AA to AAA last season because of his outstanding offensive production — struggled a bit at the plate in May, his first month in the major leagues. But he went from hitting .176 then to .306 in June.
"That's really big," Polanco said of Miranda's moment. "Miranda is a really good guy. He works hard every day. He believes in himself. He knows he's good, and we love him. But he comes in every day to work and tries to play hard every day and win."
Miranda said what he will remember most from this career milestone is Gordon and Luis Arraez combining to douse him in icy water from the cooler while he tried to give a postgame interview on the field.
He actually couldn't even finish addressing the crowd, as the water had shorted out the microphone.
"When they threw me in water, it was pretty cold," Miranda said. "So that one [sticks out]."