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Twins Insider

La Velle E. Neal III and Phil Miller report on the Twins from wherever they make news

Postgame: Mauer shocks with bunt single; Buxton misses miracle catch

    BALTIMORE — Some leftovers from a busy night at Camden Yards, a game in which the Twins had at least one hit in all nine innings, and all nine Twins got a hit:

    — Which one of these names is not like the others: Rod Carew, Kirby Puckett, Rob Wilfong, Alexi Casilla, Cristian Guzman, Nick Punto, Carlos Gomez, Jacque Jones, Joe Mauer and Denard Span?

    Those are the 10 players with the most bunt singles in Twins history, a list that Mauer moved up tonight with a bunt that seemed to shock Orioles starter Ubaldo Jimenez. Mauer now has 25 career bunt hits, though only six since 2009. That’s one more than Span, though, two fewer than Jones, and (of course) miles behind franchise leader Carew, whose 112 bunts are twice as many as Puckett’s 56.

    It was a big night for Mauer, who also walked, doubled and singled, his first three-hit game since Aug. 16. Mauer has drawn a walk in five consecutive games, and is 14-for-38 (.368) in his last 10 games, raising his season average to .274.

    — Tonight’s game will be remembered for the Twins’ overwhelming offense and Kyle Gibson’s so-so return to the majors, but it came within about an inch for being remembered for one of the great defensive plays of the year. Or any year.

    Byron Buxton raced full speed to the warning track in center field in the second inning, trying to catch Trey Mancini’s deep drive, a ball he had no business coming anywhere near. Somehow he got there and at the last second, made a diving leap at a ball well above his head. It bounced off the thumb of his glove, a breath-taking near-miss, and wound up being a run-scoring double for Mancini.

    Paul Molitor’s opinion of the play? “Almost super human,” he said.

     Buxton looked like he would get his revenge a couple minutes later, when J.J. Hardy drove a single to center field. Mancini rounded third and Buxton made a strong throw to the plate — but it skidded on the edge of the grass at the plate, and catcher Jason Castro couldn’t hang on as Mancini slid home.

    — Tyler Duffey warmed up during the third and fourth innings, and when Gibson got the final out of the fourth, he had given up five extra-base hits, four walks and six runs. But the Twins suddenly came alive, scoring four runs to tie the game 6-6 in the top of the fifth. Surely, it was time to pull the starter, right?

    Paul Molitor decided against it. And he was right.

    “We were kind of toying with what we should do when we got back in the game,” Molitor said. “He had had some success against the guys he was facing there in the fifth, so we ran him back out there and he mowed them down.”

    Indeed, Gibson struck out Wellington Castillo, Mancini and Jonathan Schoop in order, finishing his outing with a flourish.

    “If anything, the wait during the long inning probably rejuvenated him a little bit,” Molitor said. “He went out there and tried to finish, give us another zero and a chance to win it.”

Gibson returns to Twins, faces Orioles and MLB-best home record

    BALTIMORE — Welcome to Camden Yards, where the Twins haven’t won since 2015 and the Orioles own the best home record in baseball. This is a one-city road trip, but one is plenty when the challenge is this big.

    Baltimore is 15-4 in its beautiful, scenic ballpark, and had an eight-game home winning streak broken up on Sunday. Meanwhile, the Twins are off to one of their best road starts in years, going 11-5 and having won six of their last seven. 

    “We’ve had a good start to our road season. It’s not something I try to overthink,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “But it doesn’t come easy, and you don’t get too comfortable. And now we come into a place where your opponent plays really well at home.”

    Kyle Gibson, sporting a freshly shaved buzz cut, met the team when it arrived here late last night. He’s been recalled from Class AAA Rochester, where he allowed four runs in 12 1/3 innings and struck out 18.

    “Kyle had an impressive spring for us. Strike throwing and aggressiveness — we saw it in spades in spring training, but it disappeared early on at the start of the year,” Molitor said. “But he’s making a conscious effort to get back to that approach. His starts in Rochester spoke to that. Now he’s got to figure out how to carry it over and get big league hitters out.”

    Gibson is making his first major-league start since May 4, and knows there’s an opportunity here to recapture the rotation spot he lost with an 8.20 ERA in his first six starts.

    That’s because Phil Hughes was officially put on the disabled list today. The official reason was inflammation in his right biceps, which is good news for the Twins, who feared a more serious shoulder problem. Hughes will be out at least 10 days and perhaps a little longer, but it doesn’t sound like a longterm problem.

    Rain was in the forecast, and the possibility of a shower exists, but that shouldn’t amount to more than a delay.

    Here are the lineups for the first of three games at Camden Yards, where the Twins went 0-3 last year:

TWINS    

 

Dozier 2B

Grossman LF

Mauer 1B

Sano 3B

Kepler RF

Escobar DH

Polanco SS

Castro C

Buxton CF

 

Gibson RHP

 

ORIOLES

 

Smith RF

Jones CF

Machado 3B

Trumbo DH

Davis 1B

Castillo C

Mancini LF

School 2B

Hardy SS

 

Jimenez RHP

Final, 5/22 R H E
Minnesota 23-18 14 21 0
Baltimore 25-18 7 11 1

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