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.”