Kenta Maeda Gave Up Three or Fewer Runs for a 10th Straight Outing; the Tigers Beat the Twins 8-7

AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn
Minnesota Twins starting pitcher Kenta Maeda of Japan, throws to the Detroit Tigers in the first inning of a baseball game Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2023, in Minneapolis.

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Spencer Torkelson homered twice against Minnesota for the second time in a week, and the Detroit Tigers survived a late scare for an 8-7 victory over the Twins on Wednesday.

Torkelson lifted Griffin Jax’s 1-1 sweeper into the left-field seats at Target Field to give the Tigers a 6-4 lead in a four-run seventh inning, giving the second-year first baseman his fourth career multi-homer game.

His previous one came last Wednesday against the Twins in Detroit.

“I feel like I’ve seen the ball well, I have a good solid approach; I’m trusting that even when … I don’t feel amazing at the plate,” said Torkelson, who has six homers in his past seven games. “I feel like I can still compete up there and and get the job done, which is more … rewarding than when you’re up there feeling sexy and like you can hit everything, because that’s what’s supposed to happen. But when you can figure out a way to grind out days that you don’t really feel great — that’s a lot more rewarding.”

Torkelson, who also homered Tuesday night and almost had a third in the ninth inning Wednesday, leads the Tigers with 20 home runs. He’s the seventh player in club history with that many during his age-23 season.

Relievers Beau Brieske, Tyler Holton, Alex Lange and Will Vest combined for 5 1/3 innings of scoreless relief. Holton (2-2) earned the win with by striking out five in 2 1/3 perfect innings.

“It was going to take a lot of resources,” Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said. “When you use (that many) guys in the pen, coming out with a win, that’s huge.”

Jason Foley gave up back-to-back homers in the ninth, and Matt Wallner, who delivered Minnesota a victory Tuesday, had a drive that was caught on the left-field warning track.

Donovan Solano grounded into a double play to end the game.

Following their final game this season against divisional foe Detroit, the Twins (63-59) remain four games ahead of Cleveland for the AL Central lead. The Tigers — 8-5 against Minnesota in 2023 — are eight back of the Guardians.

Minnesota’s Kenta Maeda gave up three or fewer runs for a 10th straight outing, tying Cleveland’s Tanner Bibee for the longest active streak among AL starters. Maeda recorded six strikeouts and allowed three earned runs on seven hits, including Riley Greene’s two-run homer to the right-center field second deck in the top of the third inning.

Two batters later, Torkelson smacked Maeda’s first-pitch curveball into the left-field bleachers to make it 4-3.

Jax (5-7) took the loss, surrendering four earned runs on three hits — including Torkelson’s second homer and Kerry Carpenter’s solo shot a batter later — in the seventh.

“It becomes, probably, a little more frustrating, when you start the game well and you put some runs on the board,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “In the middle of the game, we kind of fell into a little bit of a lull. We didn’t do enough.”

Carpenter went 2-for-4 with an RBI, extending his career-best hitting streak to 12 games.

Tigers rookie starter Reese Olson gave up four earned runs on eight hits while throwing just 2 2/3 innings.

Minnesota’s Eduardo Julien hit three singles. His bases-loaded hit to right field in the second inning scored a pair of runs, and Jorge Polanco hit an RBI sacrifice fly as the Twins took a 4-0 lead.

Olson was pulled for reliever Brieske, who struck out Joey Gallo with two outs and runners on second and third to keep Minnesota from extending its then one-run lead. Brieske gave up one hit and two walks in one inning before Holton came in and and retired all seven batters he faced.

That included a bases-loaded strikeout of Wallner to end the fourth.

“We’re all asked to do our job,” Holton said. “I came in in the middle of the inning, and to get out of the inning was a big, big moment for us. (We’ve) just got to give your team a chance that we can to win, and the bats are going to wake up at some point.”

Torkelson put it more succinctly.

“Holton saved us,” he said.