Twins’ right-hander Sonny Gray working out the kinks

20 July 2023

SEATTLE — Why Sonny Gray hasn’t won a game since April 30 is probably a more complicated equation, but Twins pitching coach Pete Maki thinks he knows the reason the right-hander lost his control after cruising through four innings on Monday.

“It was just missing with his slider in the same spot,” Maki said Wednesday before the Twins’ 8:40 p.m. CDT first pitch against the Mariners at T-Mobile Park. “He kept missing with his slider to his glove side and down. So, he knows that. It’s just (about) making that awareness a little bit sooner.”

Gray had a 2-0 lead and had thrown only 46 pitches when he started the fifth inning Monday. After he retired catcher Cal Raleigh on a grounder, Gray gave up a double, a single, two walks and four runs. He also hit a batter.

In the sixth, Gray walked the first batter he faced on four pitches and let him score on a wild pitch for a 5-3 lead. The Twins scored three in the ninth inning but fell 7-6.

“You just have one inning where you do the same thing over and over, you walk two or three guys and you give up a soft single,” Gray said. “I was getting out of those innings early in the season; it’s still not a good way to live.”

Gray (4-4) started the season 4-0 with a 0.77 earned-run average in six starts but hasn’t earned a win since. The Twins are 3-10 in those past 13 starts.

Gray declined an interview request on Wednesday, but after Monday’s start, the veteran right-hander said, “I’ve got to figure it out fast.”

Maki said he’s working with Gray on taking it one pitch at a time “instead of maybe building things up bigger than it needs to be.”

“It’s not delivery,” Maki said. “I spent some time looking at stuff to see, looking at those couple of innings just to see, ‘Oh, maybe his release point’s higher.’ Or, ‘He’s flying open.’ I didn’t find anything in that regard, delivery-wise.”

Consistently missing to the same spot, what Maki called common-theme misses, “are a good thing, in a way, in that you know where you’re missing consistently, so it should be easier to fix it,” Maki said.

“Obviously, it’s harder to do in real time than it is for me to talk about it,” the pitching coach added, “but I’d rather have a common-theme miss than have it spread around; there’s fewer solutions available when it’s arm-side high, glove-side down. That’s a longer-term fix.

“There are more short-term solutions to common-theme misses. We’ll work on that and we’ll be good.”


The Twins started Wednesday’s game hitting .301 as a team in five games since returning from the all-star break, and they’re 4-1 in those games.

A large part of that has been Alex Kirilloff, who went 3 for 5 with a single, triple, two-run home run, walk and three runs scored in Tuesday night’s 10-3 victory. He entered Wednesday hitting .373 with a 1.019 OPS in 15 games dating back to June 26.

A first-round pick whose first two major league seasons were hijacked by a wrist injury that required two surgeries, Kirilloff said his recent surge is less about how the wrist feels and more about preparation.

“It’s just the process of hitting and making adjustments,” he said. “Trying to figure out an approach that works, a tempo that works, timing that works. People say this all the time, that home runs and power kind of come in bunches. … So, I don’t read too much into it.”

Kirilloff’s second surgery shortened his ulna so it wouldn’t rub against the wrist. “Overall”, he said, “I’ve felt pretty good with it once things started to get rolling.”

“So, it’s just kinda been about staying on top of it and doing the things that are necessary to feel my best every day and hopefully get through a whole season the rest of the way.”


Carlos Correa started Wednesday’s game with a 14-game on-base streak since he was moved to the leadoff spot. On Tuesday, he hit his first home run from that spot. It was his first homer since June 24 at Detroit.


This is a 2023 photo of starting pitcher Sonny Gray of the Twins baseball team. This image reflects the Twins active roster as of Friday, Feb. 24, 2023, in Fort Myers, Fla., when this image was taken. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
This is a 2023 photo of left fielder Alex Kirilloff of the Twins baseball team. This image reflects the Twins active roster as of Friday, Feb. 24, 2023, in Fort Myers, Fla., when this image was taken. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

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