Kenta Maeda Throws 5 Scoreless Inning in Return to Lead Twins Past Tigers 4-1

AP Photo/Paul Sancya
Minnesota Twins pitcher Kenta Maeda throws against the Detroit Tigers in the fourth inning of a baseball game, Friday, June 23, 2023, in Detroit.

DETROIT (AP) — Kenta Maeda pitched five scoreless innings in his return from the injured list and the Minnesota Twins defeated the Detroit Tigers 4-1 on Friday night.

Royce Lewis and Max Kepler homered for the Twins, who had three team members, including manager Rocco Baldelli, ejected by home plate umpire Lance Barrett.

Maeda (1-4), who strained his triceps against the New York Yankees on April 26, allowed three hits, struck out eight and walked two.

It was awesome to come back and get a win for my teammates, Maeda said through an interpreter. “I had made some adjustments during minor-league rehab and it felt good.”

Jhoan Duran pitched the ninth for his 10th save in 12 tries. The Twins struck out 16 overall, including three each by Duran and Brock Stewart.

It’s really tough when you get into the back of their bullpen, Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said. “I thought we had some good at-bats against Stewart, but you won’t get much against those guys.”

Joey Wentz (1-8) gave up four runs — three earned — and five hits with four walks in five-plus innings.

I felt really good in the first, then blew up in the second, he said. “I got it back, but I got to the sixth and couldn’t finish the outing. I’m pretty upset about that.”

Minnesota took a 3-0 lead with a pair of second-inning homers. Lewis led off with a long drive over the Tigers bullpen in left field. After a one-out walk to Willi Castro, Kepler homered over the shortened fence in right-center.

Baldelli was ejected by Barrett later in the inning, apparently over an uncalled balk.

I wish I could have watched more of Kenta’s performance from the field, Baldelli said. “I saw most of it on the monitor.”

Minnesota loaded the bases with no outs in the sixth on a double, a walk and an error. Brendan White replaced Wentz, and his wild pitch allowed Kyle Farmer to score Minnesota’s fourth run. After a groundout, Michael A. Taylor took a called third strike and was later ejected along with assistant hitting coach Derek Shomon.

It was the first time Minnesota had three ejections in a game since manager Ron Gardenhire, first-base coach Scott Ullger and pitcher Brad Radke in an 8-4 loss to Tampa Bay on April 30, 2003.

Matt Vierling made it 4-1 with an RBI single in the bottom of the sixth. That brought up Miguel Cabrera with the bases loaded, but he grounded into an inning-ending double play.

We had a chance to get back into the game there, but the double play took that away, Hinch said.