MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Byron Buxton hit his second game-ending home run of the season, a two-run drive off Jorge López in the ninth inning that lifted the Minnesota Twins over the Baltimore Orioles 3-2 on Friday night.
“That was the big kind of exclamation point we’ve been looking for on one of these nights,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “We’ve been grinding real hard a lot this week, played some pretty good, competitive baseball, didn’t do enough to get over the hump on some of these games. This is different. This is just fantastic.”
Baltimore took a 2-1 lead when Ryan McKenna doubled off Caleb Thielbar leading off the eighth, advanced on Trey Mancini’s groundout and scored as Jorge Mateo grounded to Luis Arraez with the infield in, beating the second baseman’s late and off-line throw home.
Luis Arraez singled off Jorge López (3-4) to begin the ninth, ending a string of 21 consecutive batters retired by Baltimore pitchers.
Buxton ended the game four pitches later, pulling an outside slider into the left-field seats for his 21st home run. Buxton hit a three-run, 10th-inning homer off Liam Hendriks of the Chicago White Sox in a 6-4 win on April 24.
“We kind of knew he was coming in, anyway. So I was little bit more prepared than the normal to face him this time,” Buxton said.
Juan Minaya (1-0) retired Austin Hays on an inning-ending foul pop to strand a runner at third base in the eighth.
Minnesota opened a 1 1/2-game lead in the AL Central over second-place Cleveland, which was rained out against the New York Yankees.
Joe Ryan allowed one run and two hits in seven innings with seven strikeouts and a walk, his best outing since returning June 14 after three weeks out with COVID-19.
“I feel really good,” Ryan said. “Probably not the best outings before. Definitely some challenges. But I think with those challenges you learn some things.”
Baltimore scored in the third when Jorge Mateo walked and came around on Cedric Mullins double with a hit-and-run on.
Spenser Watkins gave up one run and three hits in six innings with five strikeouts and a walk. He needed 29 pitches in the first inning and 50 over the next five, retiring his final 15 batters in order.
“Watkins did everything we asked and more,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. “He had a tough first inning there but he really found his groove after the first. Loved the way he was throwing strikes, mixing pitches extremely well, kept guys off balance and kept us right in the game.”
José Miranda hit a bases-loaded RBI single in the first, but left fielder Ryan McKenna’s throw home caught Carlos Correa trying to score from second.
Hyde was ejected after arguing with plate umpire Ramon De Jesus after the top of the third inning.
“During the Mullins at-bat there was a disrespectful exchange between the home plate umpire and our dugout,” Hyde said. “I felt it was more on me to go out there and see what was going on, and it got heated from there.”
Hyde argued with De Jesus for several minutes in between the top and bottom of the inning and had to be held back by another umpire as he was pushed toward the dugout.
MAKI IN, JOHNSON OUT
The Twins promoted bullpen coach Pete Maki to pitching coach, replacing Wes Johnson, who departed the team on Thursday to take the same job for Louisiana State. Maki, 39, has served as the Twins’ bullpen coach since 2020 and previously was the team’s minor league pitching coordinator in 2018-19.
“I owe a lot of thanks to a lot of people, to be able to get here, especially the guy who I’m replacing in Wes. I owe a ton to him. He’s been a mentor to me,” Maki said.
Maki said it will take time to adjust to the new role and get to know the starters. Maki has never been a pitching coach at the major league level.
“Our guys will certainly adapt well to this,” Baldelli said. “It’s going to be pretty smooth. There will be a period of days, maybe a couple of weeks or something, where you’re just getting used to someone’s style and the way they approach different things. But these guys spend a lot of time with each other, whether it’s out on the field, whether it’s when the pitchers are playing catch, whether it’s throwing bullpens.”
Colby Suggs, the team’s run prevention coordinator, was promoted to fill Maki’s spot as the bullpen coach.
The Twins selected the contract of Minaya from Triple-A St. Paul and designated RHP Tyler Thornburg for assignment. Minaya appeared in four games for Minnesota earlier this season, allowing six runs and six hits in 6 1/3 innings with five walks and seven strikeouts. Thornburg made five relief appearances for the Twins, going 0-1 with a 2.79 ERA, six walks and four strikeouts.
Twins: C Ryan Jeffers left Friday’s game with a bruised right thumb. Jeffers went 0 for 1 before being pinch hit for by Gary Sánchez in the fifth.
Orioles: Mancini was held out of Friday’s starting lineup after receiving an injection to treat a carpal boss in his right hand, stemming from when he was hit by a pitch against Toronto on June 13. Mancini pinch hit for Jonathan Araúz in the eighth. … INF Ramón Urías (left oblique strain) will begin a rehab assignment with Double-A Bowie on Saturday. Urías was hurt June 11 during batting practice.
Minnesota RHP Sonny Gray (4-1, 2.17 ERA) will look to repeat his last start, a scoreless seven-inning outing on June 27 against the Guardians. Orioles RHP Jordan Lyles (4-7, 4.94) allowed 20 runs in 28 2/3 innings in June.
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