Jhoan Duran isn't afraid to admit it. When Seth Brown drew a two-out walk in the ninth inning of a 1-0 game, and then pinch hitter Sean Murphy was clipped by a 97-mile per hour splitter, the Target Field crowd of 22,272 was understandably nervous.

And so was he.

"It's a situation that anybody would be nervous. If you're not nervous, then you're lying," Duran said through an interpreter. "It's exciting and you're nervous because you care. So I just tried to execute my pitches."

Yes, even with a fastball that keeps nudging toward 103 mph, even with a breaking pitch that's diving into the dirt at 97, Duran can get a little antsy on his mind. So pitching coach Wes Johnson walked out, reminded him to throw strikes — and watched Duran blow away Christian Bethancourt with high heat, 100 mph just above the strike zone, to end Saturday's victory.

"He lost it for a second, but it was great to see him lock it back in on Bethancourt for the final out," acting manager Jayce Tingler said. "I don't know [what Johnson said], but it was a great speech."

And another great finish for Duran, whose second career save lasted two innings in a one-run game. That's a reflection of Duran's background as a starting pitcher — the Twins don't want to limit him to just one-inning appearances, which are standard for most closers — and their trust in his incredible velocity.

"We feel we've got a couple of guys who can do it at the back end, and we're trying to keep that back end as fresh as we can," Tingler said. "When [Duran] kept it under 15 pitches [in the eighth inning] and obviously had his good stuff working … that's when we decided to [let him] go back out for the ninth."

That eighth inning would convince anyone. Duran threw 14 pitches in the inning, seven of them over 100 mph, and overwhelmed Elvis Andrus, Cristian Pache and Tony Kemp, strikeout victims all.

"As a hitter, what are you supposed to do?" fellow reliever Griffin Jax said with admiration.

Buxton hurts hip

Byron Buxton hit first base hard in the first inning, reaching base on a wild-pitch third strike but aggravating something in his right hip. He continued playing, but pulled up on his way to first base in the sixth inning after grounding out.

That was enough for Tingler. Buxton was replaced in center field by Gilberto Celestino.

"He's been battling, and he's just an absolute warrior," Tingler said. "Hitting first base there early on [affected him], and it just kept tightening up on him."

Tingler had noticed a change in Buxton's gait in the outfield, too. "He wasn't closing in the way he usually does, but he's out there grinding," Tingler said.

The Twins will evaluate Buxton on Sunday. "I don't know the level of concern. He's been battling a little bit — the hand, the knee and the hip, all three," Tingler said. "Hopefully we get some good treatment and just kind of see where we're at."


  • Shortstop Carlos Correa will test his sore middle finger during batting practice on Sunday, but said he won't play in the game. He hopes to play during when his former team, the Astros, comes to town next week.
  • Outfielder Trevor Larnach was scratched from the Twins lineup an hour before the game after reporting "lower-body tightness," Tingler said.
  • Righthander Cole Sands was sent back to St. Paul on Saturday, one day after being called up, so the Twins could activate Sonny Gray from the injured list.
  • Royce Lewis received a standing ovation for a second straight day, this time after hitting a double off the wall in right-center, his first career extra-base hit. "Yeah, and I was booed one pitch later," he said with a laugh, after being picked off the base.