Twins blow out Mariners to secure another series win

If there was any doubt about whether the Twins were for real, they put those thoughts to rest with an impressive homestand.

After getting the best of the Boston Red Sox in a series at Target Field over the weekend, the Twins handled their business against the Seattle Mariners this week, finishing things off Thursday afternoon at Target Field with a dominant 11-1 victory. That result helped the Twins finish the homestand with a 5-2 record. They have now won 15 of their last 17 games to get themselves right back into the thick of the AL Central.

Asked about offensive explosion from the Twins on this particular day, manager Rocco Baldelli talked about the homestand as a whole. He noted how they faced the Red Sox, who have their fair share of good pitchers, and the Mariners, who he said might have the best pitching staff in the league.

“I don’t know what more I could ask for from our offense and the way they did their jobs,” Baldelli said. “I know I was sitting back for a period of time just watching and being very impressed with the whole group.”

The path to victory for the Twins in the series finale against the Mariners was very similar to the way they have been winning throughout their resurgence.

They got solid hitting at the plate, with left fielder Manuel Margot driving in five runs, coupled with solid pitching on the mound, with ace Pablo López looking mostly untouchable across 6 1/3 innings.

The game was never in doubt for the Twins as they tagged Mariners pitcher Logan Gilbert for five runs in the first inning. It started with an RBI single from right fielder Max Kepler as he stretched his career-long hitting streak to 11 games.

“He’s on everything right now,” Baldelli said. “It feels like every at-bat, he’s putting dangerous swings on the ball.”

Not long after that, Margot doubled with the bases loaded, bringing home everybody in the process.

“That’s a beautiful moment,” Baldelli said. “To break the game open. You only get so many chances to break a game open like that and to separate. You need someone to do something that’s really big, really important, and Margot did it today early on for us.”

Not to be outdone, first baseman Carlos Santana singled to score Margot later in the first, which gave López more than enough run support.

“My mindset was like ‘How can I do my job fast to bring the boys back in the dugout as soon as possible?’ López said. “They made it fun to be part of the game today.”

It translated to some nasty stuff from López as he struck out 10 batters, continuing to find his groove after a slow start to this season.

“We were able to punch out 10 guys today with no walks,” catcher Ryan Jeffers said. “To have that ratio, and for him to give us the outing that we needed from him today, we needed him to go deep, that was awesome.”

After some additional run support — highlighted by Jeffers and Kepler hitting solo home runs — Lopez handed the ball over to the bullpen, and relievers Kody Funderburk and Josh Staumont slammed the door shut.

Now the Twins will head on the road for a short series against the Toronto Blue Jays before they return home for a series against the New York Yankees. That will be yet another chance to prove they are indeed for real.

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