Clinging to their American League Central lead by just a half-game after dropping Friday night’s series opener to the Baltimore Orioles in 10 innings, the Minnesota Twins will turn to All-Star right-hander Sonny Gray to try to even the series on Saturday afternoon in Minneapolis
Ramon Urias doubled in automatic runner Colton Cowser to open the 10th inning for what proved to be the game-winning run in a 3-1 victory for Baltimore, which closed to within three games of first-place Tampa Bay in the AL East with its third consecutive victory.
However, a fourth-inning catch by Cedric Mullins was the play of the game and the main reason the contest even made it to extra innings.
After Carlos Correa and Donovan Solano opened the fourth with back-to-back singles, Byron Buxton hit a towering drive near the 411-foot sign in center. Mullins timed his jump perfectly, catching the ball above the fence to deny Buxton his 16th home run of the season and the Twins a 3-0 lead
“It was just one of those things where I was trying to get a feel for the wall as I was approaching it,” Mullins said. “It had some good air under it so I was just trying to time the wall, and I was able to get a good jump and was able to bring it in.”
Buxton slammed his helmet down at first but then threw up his arms and tipped his helmet at Mullins in respect.
“I have a feeling he’s going to be looking for me as soon as I walk out of here,” said Mullins, who added that he and Buxton are good friends. “Hate to do it to him, but that’s baseball.”
The Twins managed just five hits, including a seventh-inning RBI single by Willi Castro that drove in Kyle Farmer, who had doubled, to tie it 1-1
“That big swing by Buck was most of the action for us,” Minnesota manager Rocco Baldelli said. “We needed to do more. We got the pitching and the defensive plays, everything we needed to stay right there in the game.
“Not an easy game to lose because we’re right there in it until the end. We can win that game.”
Now Gray (4-2, 2.50 ERA) will try to even the series up for Minnesota. Gray, named to his third All-Star Game, is 6-5 with a 4.19 ERA in 13 career starts against the Orioles. He’ll be opposed by right-hander Tyler Wells (6-4, 3.19 ERA) who is 2-0 with a 1.88 ERA in four career appearances and two starts against the Twins
Gray, who ranks third in MLB with a 2.50 ERA, threw six scoreless innings in his last start Sunday at Baltimore, allowing just two hits and striking out seven. The Orioles rallied for two runs in the eighth off closer Jhoan Duran to pull out a 2-1 victory
“He’s had a phenomenal first half,” Baldelli said of Gray. “He’s pitched his tail off every single time he’s touched the mound, keeps us in every single game that he pitches. … He’s been consistently a bulldog for us out there.”
Friday’s win was just the second in the last 14 games at Target Field for Baltimore.
–Field Level Media