Max Kepler scored the go-ahead run on a passed ball in the eighth inning and Minnesota pitchers struckout 14 batters in the Twins’ 6-3 victory over the Seattle Mariners on Wednesday-evening.
Kepler scored from third base when a pitch by reliever Andrés Muñoz (2-3) went past catcher Tom Murphy to break a 3-3 tie. Kepler also hit a solo homer in the fifth inning off Luis Castillo and has a six-game hitting streak.
“I’m just trying to grind out at bats and keep the line moving,” Kepler said. “See a few pitches or a lot of pitches from the starters to get them out of the game early. I think Castillo was up to 85 pitches in the fourth, which was a great team performance offensively. I think that’s just been a collective approach lately.”
Ryan Jeffers gave the Twins the lead with a single in the second inning, and rookie Edouard Julien and Kepler made it 3-0 with home runs in the fifth inning.
Julien had two hits and now has six multi-hit appearances in his last seven games.
The Mariners tied it with a pair of home runs of their own. Tom Murphy connected off Twins starter Kenta Maeda in the sixth inning, and Eugenio Suárez tied the score with a 2-run shot in the seventh off Griffin Jax.
Alex Kirillof hit a two-run homer in the ninth against Devin Sweet, in the 26-year-old pitcher’s major league debut.
Emilio Pagan (4-1) was the winner after a perfect eighth inning. Jhoan Duran threw a scoreless ninth inning for his 16th save. Duran’s fastest throw came in at 104.8 mph, a new personal best.
“It keeps going into space, into space,” said Twins manager Rocco Baldelli. “I don’t know where it’s going to stop. You see it all over the league as a whole, where it goes from one level to the next level when it comes to speed, but he’s living on his own planet at the moment.”
Maeda struckout nine batters for Minnesota in 6 1/3 innings and gave up only three hits.
“It’s the best thing I’ve ever seen him do,” said Baldelli. “He’s doing that at the moment on five days rest since his last appearance, but if he goes out and he’s blasting 86 mph splits and controlling these fields the way he wants to, the results will speak for themselves.”
Maeda’s strikeout total tied for a season high. Maeda also struckout nine on April 4 in Miami and on July 4 against Kansas City.
“I’ve been looking for ways to get better, of course,” Maeda said. “But with the prep I’ve put into this week, especially playing catch, you know, tinkering with things here and there, I think I’ve found the right groove.”
Castillo gave up six hits and three earned earned in six innings, and struckout a season-high 11 as the Mariners tied the Twins with 14 whiffs.
“That’s about as good as we’ve seen from Luis Castillo in a while, really from the first inning,” said Mariners manager Scott Servais. “Often it takes him a few innings to get into the game and into his stuff, but that wasn’t the case tonight. I thought he was really sharp.”
Twin DH Byron Buxton, inwas out of the lineup for the second day in a row.
Mariners first-round pick Jonny Farmelo did batting practice at T-Mobile Park on Wednesday and hit three home runs over the right field wall. With the signing of Farmelo, Seattle has signed 21 of 22 draft picks for 2023.
The Mariners recalled Sweet and senior prospect Prelander Berrora and Wednesday from Double-A Arkansas as they sent down rookie relievers Ty Adcock and Isaiah Campbell.
RHP Pablo López (5-5, 4.24 ERA) was scheduled to pitch for Minnesota on Thursday against RHP George Kirby (8-8, 3.43 ERA).