Twins’ suddenly potent bats put the hurt on Mariners pitching in 10-3 victory

19 July 2023

SEATTLE — Don’t look now, but the Minnesota Twins are hitting.

This was the consensus issue with the Twins — anecdotally and statistically — when they stumbled into the all-star break with a three-game losing streak, a .232 team batting average and a half-game out of first place in the American League Central Division.

With 71 games remaining and a division title firmly within its grasp, the team vowed to put together more good at-bats. The pitching, which featured one of the best starting rotations in the majors before the break, just had to continue apace.

So far, so good.

Alex Kirilloff went 3 for 4 with a triple, two-run home run and three runs scored, and rookie Edouard Julien went 3 for 5 with a home run and two runs scored, as the Twins beat the Seattle Mariners, 10-3, Tuesday in front of 28,141 at T-Mobile Park.

Since starting a three-game series last Friday in Oakland, the Twins are hitting .301 with 11 home runs and averaging 6.6 runs a game. Not coincidentally, they’re 4-1 in those games. It’s a small sample size, for sure, but a big improvement on the 4.1 runs the team was averaging before the break.

Bailey Ober (6-4) was tagged for three first-inning runs, the first two on a home run by Eugenio Suarez, before he recorded an out but recovered to throw six strong innings, scattering seven hits without a walk and striking out five for the victory. The offense, and defense, handled the rest.

After the first inning, Ober and relievers Jordan Balazovic, Emilio Pagan and Cole Sands combined to throw eight scoreless innings. The offense took care of the rest against a pitching staff that entered the game with a combined earned-run average of 3.79 — fifth best in baseball.

Carlos Correa singled to start the game, moved to second on Kirilloff’s walk and scored on a sacrifice fly to left by Max Kepler. After Matt Wallner was hit by a pitch, Willi Castro sent Kirilloff home on a single to center to make it 3-2.

The Twins retook the lead in the fourth.

Julien started the inning with a single to left and scored on Kirilloff’s two-run homer off starter Bryan Woo (1-2) for a 4-3 lead. Kepler then walked and moved to second on a one-out single by Castro. Castro followed by stealing second, and Kepler came home when catcher Cal Raleigh’s throw bounced into center field for an error, and the Twins led, 5-3.

Julien hit a two-out solo home run in the fourth, and Kirilloff followed with a triple. Kepler brought him home with a double to right to make it 7-3.

In the seventh, Julien led off with a single to left, moved to second on an infield single by Kepler and scored on Castro’s single to left to make it 8-3. Kyle Farmer and Correa hit solo home runs in the ninth to make it 10-3.

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