Twins bounce back with 3-1 victory over AL West-leading Seattle

After going toe to toe with three-time all-star Luis Castillo on Monday, Twins rookie Simeon Woods Richardson faced a quick barrage of questions about pitching his best major-league game against one of Seattle’s best starters.

The Twins’ right-hander handled the questions adeptly, but his handling of the inquiries couldn’t hold a candle to his performance on the mound in a 3-1 victory over Seattle in front of 14,384 at Target Field.

In short, the reason Woods Richardson struck out a career-high eight in six scoreless innings was execution.

How did he fan a major-league career high?

“Just trying to execute pitches, one pitch at a time,” he said.

Which pitch did he executive particularly well?

“Everything, to be honest,” he said.

And when asked if winning with a pitcher like Castillo on the other end made this one more memorable than his other three major league starts, the big right-hander said, “I think what makes it more memorable is that it was a good team win.”

But if Woods Richardson’s postgame news conference lacked for excitement, it did not lack for veracity, because the Twins’ victory was, in fact, a good team win — a real baseball win.

Carlos Correa hit an RBI double and scored the go-ahead run on Christian Vazquez’s sacrifice fly in the seventh inning as the Twins broke open a 1-1 game to win for the 13th time in 14 games. Minnesota had its 12-game winning streak snapped by a 7-2 loss to the Red Sox on Sunday.

Griffin Jax (3-2) earned the win after giving up the tying run in the seventh inning. Jhoan Duran pitched a 1-2-3 eighth, and Caleb Thielbar pitched the ninth for his third save.

“There were a few different things that we did today that I liked,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said.

The Twins got back-to-back doubles by Max Kepler and Carlos Correa in the fifth to open a 1-0 lead, but even that is deceiving. Kepler’s was initially ruled an error on first baseman Ty France, but was changed to a double after video revealed the ball hit the first base bag and not France’s glove.

The Twins’ ability to manufacture runs was on full display in their half of the seventh. With the score knotted 1-1, Kepler coaxed a leadoff walk off Castillo and Correa followed with a double on a 2-2 pitch, after falling behind 0-2, to put runners at second and third with no outs.

Willi Castro followed with a hard grounder to first that France fielded cleanly. Kepler was going on contact, but slowed to get into a rundown so that Correa could advance to third. Castro also made it all the way to second before the Mariners made their first out.

“I would have been thrown out by a lot of ground,” Kepler said. “I decided to stay in the pickle and allow Carlos to advance to third. We still had the one out to move him up, and Vázquez did that.”

After Castillo intentionally walked Carlos Santana, Vázquez hit a line drive deep in the right-center field gap that was fielded by Julio Rodriguez, but the center fielder had no play and Correa’s run put the Twins up 2-1.

That was it for Castillo, replaced by right-hander Trent Thornton. Twins’ No. 9 hitter Manny Margot greeted him with a single up the middle to score Castro for an insurance run.

“Well, coming into the series I expected there was going to be a lot of good pitching out there. The Twins are throwing the ball real well, as we are,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “They just outdid it tonight. Their starter was right on point. We had a good idea of what he was going to do going into the game. He just executed, and we did not.”

There’s that word again.

Woods Richardson fanned seven in his first three innings, tying his previous career high, and set a new mark when he got former Twins catcher Mitch Garver swinging in the fifth as the Twins beat the American League West-leading Mariners to start a four-game series.

Castillo (4-4) was charged with three runs on two hits and three walks in 6 2/3 innings.

Woods Richardson allowed only one hit and a walk but didn’t figure in the decision after Jax surrendered a run in the seventh.

“Christian threw down some really good signals,” Woods Richardson said. “We were on the same page the whole night, so it’s always good when you have a guy like that, who has experience and we’re on the same page for chemistry the whole night. That makes it fun.”

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