BALTIMORE -- In a back-and-forth Opening Day tilt that featured several memorable moments, none was stranger than Zach Duke's Twins debut in the seventh inning of an eventual 3-2 loss to the Orioles in 11 innings. Duke became the first Twins pitcher to record four strikeouts in an inning since
BALTIMORE -- In a back-and-forth Opening Day tilt that featured several memorable moments, none was stranger than Zach Duke's Twins debut in the seventh inning of an eventual 3-2 loss to the Orioles in 11 innings. Duke became the first Twins pitcher to record four strikeouts in an inning since 2016, but he gave up two crucial runs, keyed by striking out Trey Mancini on a wild pitch that allowed him to reach first.
Duke, who was signed to a one-year deal in the offseason, was only one out away from getting out of a jam, but he surrendered a two-run triple to Caleb Joseph on a first-pitch fastball that Duke left up, allowing Joseph to smack it into the right-center-field gap.
:: Rare feats ::
"I like where I'm at -- I haven't struck out four in an inning since high school, but it's unfortunate I gave up runs in that inning," Duke said. "I gave up a triple at a bad time. Joseph did a nice job of taking advantage of a mistake right there. I tip my hat to him."
Duke relieved Jake Odorizzi after he spun six scoreless frames against the Orioles in his Minnesota debut. Facing his first batter with the Twins, Duke struck out Mancini on a 2-2 curveball that got past catcher Jason Castro for a wild pitch and allowed Mancini to reach first.
"It just kind of kicked awkwardly," Duke said. "It looked like Jason was in a good position to block it, but it just came at a weird angle. We were on the same page. It's just one of those things in baseball where it takes a weird hop."
Duke uncorked another wild pitch while facing Timothy Beckham, so Mancini advanced to second with nobody out. But Duke struck out Beckham before the Twins decided to intentionally walk pinch-hitter Danny Valencia. Duke followed it up with another strikeout of Craig Gentry and was one out away from escaping the jam.
But Joseph, who recorded no RBIs in 141 plate appearances in 2016, ripped a first-pitch fastball into the right-center-field gap to plate two runs on a triple. Duke remained in the game to face lefty Chris Davis and struck him out for his fourth of the inning. The last Twins pitcher to record four strikeouts in an inning was Tyler Duffey, on May 8, 2016.
"It's one of those strange innings," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "He did a nice job of getting to the two-out situation and just left that first fastball a little too much in the middle, and Joseph didn't try to do too much and let it get deep and shot it out there towards the gap. Everybody threw the ball well. Even those couple runs could have been a different outcome if [Castro] had kept the ball in front, which isn't too easy to do."
Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook.