With help from Giants, Twins unlock bats in 7-1 victory
Minnesota avoids being swept, and falling to .500, for first time this season
MINNEAPOLIS -- Scuffling through a string of bad at-bats at crucial times while losing six of eight games, the Minnesota Twins got a little help from the San Francisco Giants on Wednesday.
Rookie infielder Edouard Julien hit a leadoff home run off Giants starter Anthony DeSclafani, and starter Joe Ryan pitched in and out of trouble for five innings as the Twins beat the Giants 7-1 in front of an announced crowd of 23,464 at Target Field.
With the victory, the Twins avoided being swept — and falling to .500 — for the first time this season after dropping the first two games of the interleague series.
Minnesota broke open a tight game in the third inning, scoring a pair of two-out runs on no hits, a hit batter and three Giants errors.
“We’ve had a couple of tough games lately,” Julien said. “We usually have the lead early, and then we struggle to score runs late in games, and we don’t finish the games. But it was good today. It was a good start and good pitching the whole game.”
Ryan (7-1) allowed eight base runners on six hits and two walks, and put runners at second and third with no outs in the first and second innings but allowed only one run. Mike Yastrzemski scored from third base in the second when Ryan tried to start a 1-6-3 double play and threw wide to Kyle Farmer.
The right-hander fanned four and lowered his earned-run average to 2.21.
Twins relievers Brock Stewart, Jovani Moran, José De León and Jhoan Duran combined to strike out nine in four scoreless innings. After Wilmer Flores hit a two-out double off of De León (four strikeouts) in the ninth, Duran came in for the final out.
Duran threw five pitches to Casey Schmitt, each faster than 100 mph. He ended the game when Schmitt swung through the 104.6-mph four-seam fastball, the fastest pitch thrown by a Twins pitcher since Statcast began measuring pitches in 2015.
“I was feeling good today,” Duran said. “The weather is better. It’s hot, not too humid. I felt great.”
Rookie outfielder Matt Wallner, called up Tuesday to replace Trevor Larnach (pneumonia) on the active roster, stopped a run from scoring with a strong throw from right field in the first inning, then hit an RBI double to give the Twins a 3-1 lead in the third.
DeSclafino struck out Alex Kirilloff and Donovan Solano to start the third, but Kyle Farmer reached on a fielding error by shortstop Brandon Crawford, and Willi Castro reached on an error by second baseman Brett Wisely to put runners at first and second for Wallner.
Wallner sent a ground ball right at Wisely, but the ball slipped under his glove and between his legs into right field, allowing Farmer to score from second and Castro to reach third.
With Ryan Jeffers at the plate, the Twins tried a delayed steal and Castro scored when Wisely was charged with an error on his high throw to the plate. With Wallner safe at second, Jeffers lined out hard to left fielder Mitch Haniger but the Twins had a 5-1 lead that was never seriously threatened.
Playing second base, Julien, who was 1 for 3 with a walk and two runs scored, also threw out a runner at the plate on a one-out grounder to help Ryan escape with just one run allowed in the second.
“That’s huge,” Ryan said. “You get kind of weak contact, and then he plays the game so hard, so he’s going for that and just trying to limit damage there. That was great.”
DeSclafino (3-4) took the loss after allowing seven runs, four earned, on six hits, two walks and a hit batter. In the fourth, Julien walked and scored on a wild pitch for a 6-1 lead, and Jeffers chased DeSclafino with a leadoff home run in the sixth for a 7-1 lead.
The Twins have an off day Thursday before starting a three-game home series against Toronto with a 7:10 p.m. first pitch on Friday.
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