Twins Bat Around in Third during Rout of Diamondbacks

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Twins 11, Diamondbacks 1

PHOENIX, Jun 18 — The Minnesota Twins had every starter notch a hit, batting around in the top of the third en route to an 11–1 blowout victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks Saturday night. Designated hitter Gary Sanchez and catcher Ryan Jeffers both homered in the rout.

The starters — Luke Weaver for the Diamondbacks and Dylan Bundy for the Twins — allowed one baserunner collectively in the first two innings. In the top of the third, Twins center fielder Nick Gordon cracked a one-out single, starting a four-person hit parade. A single by second baseman Luis Arraez put runners on the corners; one by shortstop Carlos Correa scored Gordon and advanced Arraez to third. Right fielder Max Kepler doubled into the right-field corner, plating Arraez and advancing Correa to third. Gio Urshela struck out, giving Weaver and the Diamondbacks a brief reprieve, but a double to right by first baseman Alex Kirilloff brought in both Correa and Kepler.

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The dagger plunged deeper when designated hitter Gary Sanchez launched a 456-foot ballistic missile deep into the bleachers in left-center. A fly to right by left fielder Trevor Larnach, the ninth batter of the inning, retired the side.

The abuse resumed in the fourth, but it began with two outs. Arraez walked before Correa singled. Kepler also singled, driving in Arraez for a 7–0 lead. Urshela brought both home with a double to left, chasing Weaver from the game. Left-handed long reliever Caleb Smith retired the side on a Kirilloff grounder to short.

Diamondbacks Prevent the Shutout, but Twins Extend the Lead

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The Diamondbacks made it a 9–1 game in the bottom of the fifth. Second baseman Buddy Kennedy, playing in his second major league game, belted a triple to deep left-center, in the corner near the 413 mark. “I was trying to sit fastball,” Kennedy said after the game. “Saw the loopy curveballs he was throwing to the other guys. Didn’t see it in that at-bat — saw more sliders, then swung and missed out one out there. Then I saw a good fastball, put a good barrel on it, and I hit it. (Center fielder Gilberto Celestino) wasn’t at it yet when I was halfway to second. I thought, ‘Have fun with it. Let’s go.’” It was Kennedy’s first major league extra-base hit. Kennedy added, “Alek Thomas came in and was like, ‘Oh, you got more triples in the show than I do.’ It was good, and it was funny.”

Two batters later, catcher Carson Kelly lifted a deep fly to center. Celestino caught it near the warning track for the second out, but it was more than deep enough to score Kennedy from third and prevent the shutout. A two-run homer in the top of the seventh by catcher Ryan Jeffers gave every Twins starter a hit and finalized the score.

Postgame Reflections

“It wasn’t a great day,” manager Torey Lovullo summarized bluntly. “We didn’t execute in a lot of different areas. They jumped on us for the six runs, and (we) never could recover from that. Luke had a really clean first inning, and we thought that things were moving in a very good direction. But he made some mistakes and gave up some big hits at some inopportune times.

“They were checking off his changeup —that’s the thing that stood out to me. It’s a quality pitch, maybe it wasn’t starting on the plate. Against some left-handed hitters, he got himself into some counts where he had to throw the ball over the plate. They were impacting the baseball, and we never really got anything going offensively. I’ve seen their starting pitcher for a lot of years. When he gets moving, he can change speeds, mixing the ball around. He kept us off balance today, but it’s one of those days (where) you gotta move on as quickly as possible. We have a quick turnaround and have to win a series tomorrow.”

Saving the ‘Pen

Caleb Smith, after throwing 93 pitches in 4 1/3 relief innings, will most likely tell Lovullo he’s ready to go tomorrow. “I love that part of him,” Lovullo said, but Smith will probably need to be down three or four days. “He sucked it up for the entire team today,” Lovullo added. “He was willing to go out one more inning, and because of him, we have a full bullpen tomorrow ready to attack the Twins.”

Instead of Smith, infielder Jake Hager pitched the ninth, his third position pitching appearance of the season. “He seems to be our designated pitcher right now at this point, a jack of all trades. It was a team moment. He grinded it out to protect the bullpen, but I feel confident that he’s gonna go out there and throw strikes. I’m always worried that somebody’s gonna go up there and try and do too much and come up with a sore arm tomorrow. But he’s assured me — and he’s done it each time — that he’s just going to control the velocity and make sure he doesn’t hurt himself. He did a good job.”

Injury Update

Daulton Varsho limped off the field after grounding out in the bottom of the sixth. It was a left heel contusion, according to Lovullo. Varsho will be day-to-day. Varsho said, “When I hit the base, the heel goes first, and the foot goes after. So I just jammed it.” It is something Varsho has dealt with before, last having it happen in the Braves series at the end of May. He said it always happens on his left foot.

Looking Ahead

Bundy (4–3, 5.17 ERA) earned the win with his 107-pitch performance, scattering four hits across eight innings while striking out seven. Weaver (1–1, 13.50 ERA) took the loss after allowing nine runs on 10 hits in 3 2/3 innings. The Twins (38–29) and Diamondbacks (31–36) will play the rubber match of their three-game interleague series Sunday afternoon. Chris Archer (1–2, 3.35 ERA) and Merrill Kelly (5–4, 3.68 ERA) will start for the Twins and Diamondbacks, respectively, in a battle of right-handers. First pitch will be at 1:10 pm Arizona Time.

Main Photo Credits:

PHOENIX, Jun 18 — Christian Walker of the Arizona Diamondbacks bats against Minnesota Twins pitcher Dylan Bundy (not pictured) in the bottom of the second inning at Chase Field. Ryan Jeffers is the catcher, and Tripp Gibson is the plate umpire. The Twins won, 11–1. (Photo by Evan Thompson)

Players/managers Mentioned:

Gary Sanchez, Ryan Jeffers, Luke Weaver, Dylan Bundy, Nick Gordon, Luis Arraez, Carlos Correa, Max Kepler, Gio Urshela, Alex Kirilloff, Trevor Larnach, Caleb Smith, Buddy Kennedy, Gilberto Celestino, Alek Thomas, Carson Kelly, Torey Lovullo, Jake Hager, Daulton Varsho, Chris Archer, Merrill Kelly, Christian Walker