Kenta Maeda Win His Third Straight Start after Four No-Decisions; Twins Beat Reds 7-0

AP Photo/Jeff Dean
Minnesota Twins starting pitcher Kenta Maeda throws to a Cincinnati Reds batter during the third inning of a baseball game in Cincinnati, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2023.

CINCINNATI (AP) — Willi Castro hit a two-run homer and made two spectacular catches, Kenta Maeda combined on a four-hitter and the Minnesota Twins beat the Cincinnati Reds 7-0 on Tuesday night in another step toward their third AL Central title in five seasons.

Ryan Jeffers added a solo homer for Minnesota (80-72), which entered with a seven-game lead over second-place Cleveland.

Cincinnati (79-74), shut out for the 10th time, remained out of the NL’s three wild card berths.

In his first season after Tommy John surgery, Maeda (6-7) won his third straight start after four no-decisions. He allowed one hit in five innings, retiring his first 11 batters before Spencer Steer doubled to left and Jake Fraley. After a double steal, Castro made a diving catch of Tyler Stephenson’s liner to center, which could have tied the game had it dropped.

AP Photo/Jeff Dean
Minnesota Twins’ Kenta Maeda stands in the dugout during the second inning of the team’s baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds in Cincinnati, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2023.

Castro leaped at the wall to rob Stephenson of a home run in the seventh, a day after Michael A. Taylor denied Will Benson on a drive to center.

Maeda struck out eight and walked one. Kody Funderburk, Emilio Pagán, Caleb Thielbar and Dylan Floro finished the Twins’ 12th shutout.

Fernando Cruz (1-2) walked Max Kepler in the second and was charged with the game’s first run when Matt Wallner singled off Buck Farmer,

Castro homered in the seventh on a 352-foot fly to right off off Ben Lively that opened a 6-0 lead.