Right-hander Kenta Maeda will try to build on his finest start of the season when the Minnesota Twins face the Detroit Tigers in the second game of a four-game series on Friday night in Minneapolis.
Maeda (4-3, 5.03 ERA) allowed no runs and just two hits and a walk while striking out a season-high 10 in Minnesota’s 6-2 victory at Kansas City on Sunday.
It marked the first time since a 3-2 victory at Detroit on April 7 that the 2020 American League Cy Young runner-up pitched at least six innings.
“That is the Kenta Maeda that we’ve seen a lot of,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said afterward. “It (was) a marvelous outing.”
Maeda, who went 6-1 with a 2.70 ERA and a 0.75 WHIP in 11 starts in 2020, was on the injured list this year from May 23 to June 13 due to a right-adductor strain and arm soreness. Those injuries played a role in his command issues this season and some unusual wild stretches during games.
“I think all of my pitches were working (Sunday),” Maeda said. “Including last outing and then throughout the season, I’ve lost my command here and there, allowing multiple walks. And I think today just getting in the right frame of mind and aggressively attacking the strike zone is what led to the result.”
Maeda is 2-2 with a 4.50 ERA in five career starts against Detroit. He won his only start against the Tigers this season on April 7 when he allowed two runs on seven hits and a walk over six innings. He struck out six.
Right-hander Matt Manning (1-2, 7.94 ERA), the ninth overall pick of the 2016 draft, will make his fifth career start for the Tigers and first against the Twins.
Manning was pulled after 2 2/3 innings in his latest start against the Chicago White Sox on Sunday. He gave up two runs on seven hits and a walk in a game the Tigers won 6-5.
Despite Manning’s early exit, Detroit manager AJ Hinch praised the rookie’s performance.
“What I told Manning was don’t let me taking him out in the third inning or some of the little soft hits characterize this as a negative start,” Hinch said. “He actually showed progress. I thought his slider was pretty good, (and) he mixed in a slower breaking ball today.”
Minnesota has won 10 of its past 13 meetings with Detroit. The Twins rallied to win the series opener 5-3 on Thursday behind home runs by Miguel Sano and Ryan Jeffers and a key fielding error by Tigers second baseman Willi Castro.
After Sano led off the bottom of the seventh with his 15th homer of the season to tie the game 3-3, Max Kepler singled and Gilberto Celestino followed with a chopper to shortstop. Zack Short flipped the ball to Castro at second, but in his haste to throw to first and try to complete a potential double play, Castro took his foot off the bag at second before he had the ball. Both runners were safe.
Andrelton Simmons sacrificed the runners to second and third. Reliever Jose Cisnero then rifled a wild pitch off the limestone backstop behind the plate to allow Kepler to score what proved to be the winning run. Jorge Polanco subsequently drove in Celestino with a sacrifice fly.
“It’s frustrating,” Hinch said. “It hasn’t been our norm, but you are reminded how quickly in this game, if you don’t execute, it can come back and hurt you in the end.”
–Field Level Media
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