MINNEAPOLIS -- Lance Lynn tallied a season-high 113 pitches as he put a couple of rough early innings behind him and delivered his third consecutive strong outing on Saturday.Lynn held the Indians to a single run on two hits and worked around some command issues as he helped the Twins
MINNEAPOLIS -- Lance Lynn tallied a season-high 113 pitches as he put a couple of rough early innings behind him and delivered his third consecutive strong outing on Saturday.
Lynn held the Indians to a single run on two hits and worked around some command issues as he helped the Twins to a 7-1 win at Target Field that pulled them within 4 1/2 games of Cleveland for first place in the American League Central. After a disastrous start to the season, Lynn's ERA has been on a freefall since the start of May.
"I thought it was pretty gritty," Minnesota manager Paul Molitor said of Lynn's outing. "You look at the traffic that he created for himself between hit batsmen and a handful of walks, he gets pretty flustered out there at times whether it's a play or a pitch or a noncall. He made some close pitches that didn't go his way, but he just kept finding his way to grind through it."
Lynn now owns a 5.46 ERA and has shaved nearly three runs off of it since his last start of April, when the Blue Jays rocked him for six earned runs. Over his last six starts, Lynn has a 3.34 ERA.
After Lynn escaped a one-out jam in the fifth with a 5-4-3 double play, it appeared that his day was done. Molitor sent Lynn back out for the top of the sixth, and the righty rewarded the vote of confidence. Lynn struck out Yonder Alonso swinging, and Max Kepler followed by making a leaping catch in right field to take away a hit from Greg Allen. He then got Jason Kipnis to ground out and end the frame.
With 113 pitches under his belt, Lynn pounded his glove with his throwing hand as he walked back to the dugout. He has now thrown at least six innings and held opponents to two runs or fewer in each of his last three starts.
"It's great," Lynn said of Minnesota's defensive showing on Saturday. "You've just got to try to make pitches. They're scoring runs and playing defense. It's a lot of fun to play the game."
Minnesota's offense came to life in the third and had no problem backing Lynn from that point. James Dozier smashed an RBI triple off the top of the right-field wall to plate Ehire Adrianza to get Minnesota on the board, and Eddie Rosario followed with a two-run homer, his 10th, to make it 3-1.
"Trevor Bauer doesn't throw me many fastballs," Dozier said. "If he does, he likes to show it with two strikes up. So we did a good job of, I say it all the time, taking what the game gives you. I was sitting on a slider a couple at-bats, and he threw it."
In the fourth, The Twins threw four more runs on the board to blow the game open. Kepler and Ryan LaMarre delivered RBI singles to chase Bauer. He was replaced by Dan Otero, who threw just three pitches before Dozier smashed an RBI double to push the Twins' lead to 6-1.
Oliver Perez, who the Indians acquired Saturday morning, came on to replace Otero and make his season debut, and his first pitch slipped past Roberto Perez and allowed LaMarre to score from third.
Trevor Hildenberger, Thomas Pressly and Tyler Duffey threw scoreless innings in the seventh, eighth and ninth. Pressly's appearance was his 30th of the year.
HE SAID IT
"We debated a little bit about going back out there for the sixth, but he was still making some pitches when he had to. We had people ready just in case, but he got through that inning, which was helpful to us in the big picture." -- Molitor, on sticking with Lynn for the sixth
The Twins will close out their four-game set with the Indians at 1:10 p.m. CT on Sunday. Following an outstanding start in Kansas City on Tuesday, Kyle Gibson will get the start for Minnesota. He threw seven scoreless and struck out eight against the Royals while producing 10 swinging strikes with his slider. Gibson will face off with Cleveland's Mike Clevinger (4-2, 3.14 ERA).
Jarrid Denney is a reporter for MLB.com based in Minneapolis.