Dozen show signs of stopping: Twins make it 12 in a row

The fate of the Twins' longest-in-the-majors streak turned on the fate of a couple of longest-in-the-league streaks on Saturday.

Willi Castro extended his career-best hitting streak to 10 straight games, the American League's longest current run, with a couple of key singles. Rafael Devers went 0-for-4 for the Red Sox, including a couple of strikeouts in RBI situations, ending his own hitting streak at nine.

Ergo: The Twins have won 12 consecutive games for the first time in 33 years.

"The more baseball we've played," manager Rocco Baldelli said, "the better baseball we've played."

Pablo López gave up one run over six innings, and Max Kepler moved into position to become Target Field's all-time leading home run hitter, carrying the Twins to a 3-1 victory over the Red Sox on Saturday. The dozen consecutive victories ties a 1980 streak as the second-longest in Twins history and moves them just three victories short of the 1991 team's record-setting stretch of winning.

As he has been throughout the streak, Castro seemingly was in the middle of everything. The utility man singled in the first inning to move Jose Miranda into position to score on Carlos Correa's RBI ground out, then led off the sixth inning with another single, giving him three consecutive multihit games and six during the Twins' nonstop stretch of winning.

Castro, who batted third for the first time this season, moved to third base on back-to-back wild pitches by reliever Justin Slaten, then scored on Correa's sacrifice fly.

"He's playing great and swinging the bat great. He always runs the bases really well and causes problems for the other team," Baldelli said of Castro, batting .440 (22-for-50) during the winning streak. "So we put him up there [in the lineup] and he continued the good action. He looks great."

Castro wasn't involved in the run that gave the Twins a lead for good — Kepler's first home run at home this season, and 79th of his career, leaving him one short of Brian Dozier's ballpark record. But the offense provided by those two outfielders, and a second consecutive day of excellent pitching against a Red Sox team that had scored 33 runs in its five games before arriving in Minnesota, was enough to preserve the streak.

Devers, hitting .469 over the previous nine games, could have changed that. But López and Steven Okert made sure he didn't.

López faced Boston's most dangerous hitter three times, getting two ground balls, one of which the Twins turned into a double play. Their third meeting came in the fifth inning, with López protecting a 2-1 lead and David Hamilton standing on third base.

López got the benefit of a strike that might have been off the plate inside, then threw a 2-2 fastball at the top of the zone that Devers swung through. The third baseman pounded his bat in frustration.

But it was even worse in the seventh inning, when Jorge Alcala, making his first big-league appearance in three weeks, gave up two hits and a walk in his four-batter outing. Kepler prevented the Red Sox from scoring by fielding Dominic Smith's near-homer off the top of the wall and firing the ball to second base, where Carlos Correa tagged him out.

The bases were loaded, though, when Devers came to the plate against Okert for the day's most critical at-bat. Okert fell behind 3-1, missing with three fastballs.

"I'm trying to be careful there, but a little too careful, obviously," Okert said.

BOXSCORE: Twins 3, Boston 1

His solution? Stick to the slider. He threw one at the bottom of the strike zone to fill the count, then got Devers to swing — and miss — a nearly identical pitch.

"Honestly, I feel like with that pitch, I can throw it in any count. It's my best pitch," Okert said. "Luckily I threw some good ones and got through it."

Then he walked into the dugout "and he told me he just wanted to make us sweat a little bit," Baldelli said with a laugh. "But he made a great pitch. It was a huge moment."

Jhoan Duran pitched the eighth against the middle of Boston's order, and Cole Sands earned his second save of the season with a 1-2-3 ninth, allowing the Twins to pose for their now-traditional victory photo.

"Everybody wants to be a part of the picture now, all the guys that played and got taken out," Correa said. "I guess we're going to do the whole team at some point. It's going to look like the division champ picture."