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Twins win on...singles? 4 base-hits spark rally

'Bombas' not needed as six-run sixth leads to series victory
@dohyoungpark
June 13, 2019

MINNEAPOLIS -- They’re the most homer-happy offense in baseball, but they can also piece together rallies without relying on the long ball. For the third straight game, the Twins surged late against the Mariners’ bullpen on Thursday, and this time, they did it the old-fashioned way, with two walks, a

MINNEAPOLIS -- They’re the most homer-happy offense in baseball, but they can also piece together rallies without relying on the long ball.

For the third straight game, the Twins surged late against the Mariners’ bullpen on Thursday, and this time, they did it the old-fashioned way, with two walks, a hit batter, a fielder’s choice and four singles paving the way for a six-run sixth inning. The delayed offensive explosion supported a strong afternoon from Michael Pineda in a 10-5 victory at Target Field that sealed a series win.

Box score

The blast to the past featured a hit-and-run executed by Ehire Adrianza to kick-start the rally, with the game tied, 1-1. He moved around the bases on an errant pickoff throw and wild pitch before he got a good read on a ground ball and beat out a fielder’s choice attempt at the plate against a drawn-in infield.

“Our guys executed very, very well,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “I think a guy to point out is [Adrianza]. He did a really nice job that inning, all the way around. He's an extremely intelligent ballplayer and guy. He knows what he’s doing out there. He hit a good ball, a good hit-and-run. He did his job. then he had a good dirt-ball read, gets a great jump. He's a good baserunner, too.”

Nelson Cruz pulled a two-run single to left and Max Kepler followed with a two-run poke of his own to cap the six-run inning.

The Twins had entered the game having scored 52.1 percent of their runs this season on homers, the second-highest mark in the American League.

“We definitely know we can hit homers, but that's not the only way we can score runs,” Cruz said. “Today was a hit-and-run, score from third with the infield in. It's a really exciting team to be part of.”

Earlier, in the second inning, Adrianza had also dropped a bunt single on the infield grass between the mound and first base to load the bases with no outs. He finished 3-for-5 with a trio of singles, extended his on-base streak to 17 games -- tied for second-longest in the AL -- and is hitting .439/.510/.634 in the last month (since May 13).

"It's fun when the run that the game's on is homers, but at the same time, there's so many ways to win a ballgame,” Adrianza said. “Today, I think we did a pretty good job with men in scoring position -- a couple of base hits. ... It was pretty good."

That’s not to say that the Twins forgot about their “bombas” altogether, as Cruz clubbed a solo shot and C.J. Cron put the game away with a late two-run homer to extend Minnesota’s MLB-leading total to 132.

Pineda holds Mariners to two hits

The continued fireworks on offense came too late to make a winner of Pineda, but the big right-hander made one of his most effective starts of the season, holding his former club to one run on two hits in 5 2/3 innings.

Pineda said that he has been working on the release point of his pitches, and particularly his slider, but much of his success on Thursday was staked on his usage of the fastball, which averaged 93.3 mph and topped out at 96.2 mph, showing upped velocity for the second straight start since he returned from the 10-day injured list.

“It helps,” Baldelli said. “It definitely helps. It's hard to look away from. It's nice to see. I've seen Big Mike for a long time, and he was up to 97 last start. I don't know if I have seen him throw with velocity like that. He's always had a really good arm, but with the good riding life he has, when he is in the mid-90s with the fastball, I hate to just talk in a general sense, but that's pretty nice.”

Pineda only allowed two baserunners through the first five frames, and the two hits marked his fewest of the season since he allowed one hit in a shortened start on March 31. Pineda has completed at least five innings and held opponents to three or fewer earned runs in each of his last seven starts.

He only generated two whiffs with his slider and struck out four, but he was able to generate plenty of weak contact with his off-speed offerings regardless, with nine of the 17 outs he recorded coming on ground balls.

"I think we got more of what we saw in Detroit from him,” Baldelli said. “I think he's pitching with his fastball still very well. I think his slider is coming around. It is still a pitch he is getting a feel for, still something he is feeling out. I think overall his ability to pitch with his fastball is good.”

Do-Hyoung Park covers the Twins for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @dohyoungpark and on Instagram at dohyoung.park.