MINNEAPOLIS — Ryan Jeffers homered twice and had three hits and four RBIs, Michael A. Taylor homered for the third straight game and the Minnesota Twins routed the Arizona Diamondbacks 12-1 on Saturday night.
Edouard Julien and Max Kepler also had three hits and Kenta Maeda tossed six strong innings as Minnesota won for the fourth time in five games to stretch its lead in the American League Central to 3 1/2 games.
“It looked good, it felt good. We got rolling in a lot of ways,” manager Rocco Baldelli said.
Lourdes Gurriel Jr. homered for the second straight game, but the fading Diamondbacks had a season-low two hits and fell for the fifth straight game and sixth in seven games. Arizona is 7-21 since July 2.
“I think we lost a little bit of focus at 7-1 and that’s unfortunate because this team’s come back from large deficits. We have a long way to go. We’ve got to find that path again,” Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said.
Becoming more mechanically sound, Jeffers extended his hitting streak to 11 games in the second inning with a two-run home run to the flowerpots above the wall in right-center for a 3-1 lead. It came one pitch after an RBI triple by Willi Castro.
“I knew this is what I had in me and the player I know I can be. It just took a little while to get there. Now, it’s just stay consistent,” Jeffers said. “… I’m going to go through ups and downs, that’s baseball, but just making sure those downs are short and small, more day to day than going on big ups and downs.”
Minnesota scored three more times in the third, including RBI doubles from Matt Wallner and Jeffers.
Arizona starter Ryne Nelson (6-6) allowed eight hits and six earned runs in three innings, tying his shortest outing of the season. He allowed seven earned runs against the New York Mets in three innings July 6.
Maeda (3-6) gave up Gurriel’s home run and a single by Jace Peterson in the second before retiring the final 14 hitters he faced.
In eight starts since returning June 23 after missing nearly two months with a right triceps strain, Maeda is 3-2 with a 2.47 ERA, including 58 strikeouts. He missed last season following Tommy John surgery.
“Everything body-wise, arm, is feeling good. I keep saying this again and again, but there’s nothing concerning in the arm. If anything, I feel better than pre-surgery,” Maeda said.
Taylor hit an opposite-field home run off the right-field foul pole in the fourth and Jeffers went deep again for a solo shot in the fifth to make it 9-1. It’s the second two-homer game of his career; the other was July 28, 2021.
In a pregame ceremony, the Twins welcomed Joe Mauer into the team’s Hall of Fame.
Born and raised in St. Paul, Mauer spent 15 years with the club before retiring after the 2018 season. His No. 7 was retired by the team one year later.
The 2009 American League MVP, Mauer is the only catcher in baseball history to win three batting titles. Considered one of the best defensive catchers in the game, Mauer won three straight Gold Gloves from 2008-10 but injuries behind the plate necessitated Mauer moving to first base for the last five years of his career.
Paul Sewald struck out the side in the seventh inning in his first action with Arizona. He was acquired July 31 from Seattle, where he was 21-24 in save opportunities.
Twins: OF/1B Alex Kirilloff, placed on the 10-day injured list July 30 with a right shoulder strain, is in the “resting and strengthening” phase after receiving a cortisone injection Monday. The team has no timetable for his return.
LHP Dallas Keuchel is scheduled to make his Twins debut Sunday against Arizona RHP Zac Gallen (11-5, 3.41) in the series finale. Keuchel, the 2015 American League Cy Young winner, was signed to a minor-league deal June 22. In six games with Triple-A St. Paul, he had a 1.13 ERA with 28 strikeouts in 32 innings.
AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB