Twins start quickly, race past Mariners 11-1

The way the Twins celebrate victories is having all the position players pose for a Polaroid photo behind the mound, taken by a teammate, and the picture is posted on the wall at the front of the Twins clubhouse.

Most of the photos are poor quality — playing baseball is their day job — but they are marked in Sharpie with the score, date and opponent at the bottom. When they look back at the picture from Thursday's 11-1 rout over the Seattle Mariners, they will remember when they flattened one of the best pitching staffs in the majors.

Logan Gilbert, who entered as the American League's leader in ERA, gave up nine hits and eight runs in four innings. The Twins, who have won 15 of their past 17 games, took three of four from a Mariners team that entered this week in first place in the AL West.

"This might be the best starting pitching you're going to run into all year long," Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said Thursday, after his team won games started by Gilbert, Luis Castillo and George Kirby. "It's just guy after guy who has dominant stuff. … I don't know what more I could ask for from our offense."

Gilbert, who had a 1.69 ERA, surrendered 16 hits and four runs across his last 35⅓ innings. The Twins blitzed him with a five-run first inning, handing him his first loss of the season.

A trait of the Twins offense, since the start of their 12-game winning streak that ended Sunday, is production throughout the lineup. Four of the first five Twins batters reached base in the first inning. Max Kepler opened the scoring with a line drive through the right side of the infield for an RBI single, extending his hitting streak to a career-high 11 games.

When the Twins had Gilbert on the ropes, loading the bases with two outs, Manuel Margot pulled a splitter down the left-field line for a bases-clearing double. Margot, who entered the game with a .164 batting average, scored when Carlos Santana followed with an RBI single up the middle.

"That's a beautiful moment," Baldelli said. "You only get so many chances to break a game open like that."

BOXSCORE: Twins 11, Seattle 1

Staked to a big lead, Pablo López was almost flawless over 6⅓ innings, giving up one run and striking out a season-high 10. Seattle totaled six baserunners against him through four hits, a hit batsman and a catcher's interference.

"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."

The Twins offense was relentless, the same way they looked when they beat up the last-place Chicago White Sox and Los Angeles Angels at the start of their winning streak. Ryan Jeffers lined a solo home run to left field in the second inning, his team-leading eighth homer of the season. Edouard Julien hit an RBI single in the fourth inning, a chopper that hopped over Gilbert and rolled between two diving middle infielders.

The Twins had six hits in their first 10 at-bats with a runner in scoring position. Margot drove in five runs, matching a single-game career high and surpassing his total from his first 31 games.

Kepler, who has posted a .492 on-base percentage since returning from the injured list on April 22, drilled a solo homer in the seventh inning. The Twins added another run in the inning after Seattle committed two errors.

The Twins finished their homestand against Seattle and Boston, two teams that were pitching as well as anyone in the league, with a 5-2 record.

"The Twins outplayed us," Mariners manager Scott Servais said. "They did. They swung the bat better, they pitched better, they executed better. Not much to say other than they beat us bad in this game."