SEATTLE – Caleb Thielbar trotted in from the bullpen in the fifth inning Monday night, threw just eight pitches, all of them strikes, and protected the Twins' 2-1 lead by retiring the Mariners in order, two via strikeout.

When the Twins' 3-2 victory ended, official scorer Eric Radovich, prevented by rule from crediting the win to Twins starter Chris Archer because he pitched only four innings, chose Thielbar as the "winning" pitcher. And he moved the lefthander closer to some odd Twins' history.

The victory was Thielbar's ninth consecutive without a loss over the past two seasons, which places him on the verge of becoming the ninth Twins' pitcher ever to be credited with 10 consecutive wins. Johan Santana had two such streaks and holds the franchise record with 17 in a row in 2004-05; Thielbar would be only the second pitcher in 17 seasons to have such a streak, joining Jake Odorizzi's 10 straight in 2019. Brad Radke also reached double digits, Scott Erickson, too, and Hall of Famer Bert Blyleven 50 years ago.

Those pitchers are all starting pitchers whose streaks encompassed dozens of innings, 118 in Santana's case. Jesse Crain threw only 16 2/3 innings during his 2004-05 streak, and LaTroy Hawkins just 14 in his 2002-03 run. Those streak of "wins" seem … let's see, how to put this?

"It seems kind of cheap to me, actually," Thielbar said.

Well, yes. Wins are an archaic method of measuring pitchers' effectiveness, and the meaning of the statistic disappears almost completely when it's credited to a one-inning reliever.

"For me, wins are just a product of situations more than anything. I'd love it if it was like, yeah, they're bringing me into tie games to keep them that way," Thielbar said, though two of his wins were gained by pitching in extra innings. "But if you look at most of them, it's because I'm pitching the fifth or sixth or something. The starter goes four, and I come in."

Far more meaningful, he said, are milestones that remind him of how long he's managed to hang around the big leagues. "I pitched my 200th game this year, which was cool. They gave me the scorecard for that," Thielbar said. "I got my 200th strikeout, too, but I didn't get the ball from that. I wanted to, but I didn't realize [Salvador Perez, two weeks ago] was it. I thought he was 199. Have to keep pitching and get to 300, I guess."

Polanco progress slow

Jorge Polanco's sore back "hasn't gotten any worse, and he hasn't shown as much improvement as we want," Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. The Twins will send him to have a magnetic resonance imaging test on his back "just to rule out anything serious," but Polanco sat out a second straight game on Tuesday.

Still, with the Twins needing a 40-man roster spot in order to activate Joe Ryan from the COVID list, infielder Elliot Soto's stint with the Twins lasted only one day and zero games. Soto, who flew his family to Seattle in case he got into just the fourth MLB game of his 12-season pro career, was designated for assignment on Tuesday.

Baldelli said the team hopes Soto accepts another assignment to Class AAA St. Paul if he clears waivers.

Brewers grab Gonzalez

One player who didn't clear waivers: righthander Chi Chi Gonzalez, who was claimed by the Brewers on Tuesday after making two emergency starts for the Twins. Gonzalez pitched seven total innings and posted a 7.71 ERA, but Minnesota won both of his starts.