French Canadian Eddie Julien and Pittsburgh native Alex Kirilloff continue to carry this Minnesota Twins team, once again coming up with key hits to pace the club to a 6-3 win on Wednesday and a 2-1 lead in the four-game series.
The two had multiple hits on Monday and Tuesday, and then on Wednesday Julien extended the Twins’ lead to 2-0 with a deep blast to right center field, followed by Kirilloff in the ninth, who went opposite field with a two-run homer to make it 6-3.
Starter Kenta Maeda made another quality start for the Twins, although he didn’t figure in the decision. It was the Twins’ American League-leading 48th quality start of the season, according to Baseball-Reference.com. Maeda allowed two runs over six innings with nine strikeouts.
The win went to reliever Emilio Pagan, who is now 4-1 on the season, while the save went to the flame-throwing Jhoan Duran, his 16th.
Pablo Lopez gets the ball Thursday.
Extra innings …
-The Twins are 50-47 and now have a 2.5 game lead on the Cleveland Guardians in the AL Central. The last time the Twins were three games over .500 was on June 3 at 31-28.
-You know who else is 50-47? The New York Yankees, which means they are in last place in the AL East. And they are not happy about it.
-Is there good reason to get excited about this Twins team again? Yes, there is.
Going into the All-Star break the Twins scored 27 runs over six games. Coming out of the break they have scored 42 runs over the same number of contests. If the offense has finally come around — and that includes a steadily improving Max Kepler — combined with the kind of pitching that has kept the Twins relevant all season, this team should run away from the rest of the division.
The Guards stomped on the gas pedal during the second half of the 2022 season. Now, it’s the Twins’ turn.
-Old friend watch: Ex-Twin Jose Berrios made a quality start against the San Diego Padres on Wednesday, but emerged the tough-luck loser, giving up only two runs in the loss. He is now 8-7 with a still-excellent ERA of 3.39.