MINNEAPOLIS -- Jake Odorizzi came within one pitch of delivering his second straight scoreless outing on Sunday. While he didn't escape unscathed, the right-hander delivered a strong performance and helped the Twins to a win they badly needed.Odorizzi struck out 10 and surrendered just five hits in 5 2/3 innings,
MINNEAPOLIS -- Jake Odorizzi came within one pitch of delivering his second straight scoreless outing on Sunday. While he didn't escape unscathed, the right-hander delivered a strong performance and helped the Twins to a win they badly needed.
Odorizzi struck out 10 and surrendered just five hits in 5 2/3 innings, and Logan Morrison smashed a tiebreaking two-run single in the eighth inning to help Minnesota edge out the Brewers, 3-1, at Target Field. Odorizzi handled the Milwaukee lineup for five innings and entered the sixth with a streak of 15 consecutive scoreless innings spanning three starts.
But Brewers first baseman Jesus Aguilar brought that streak to an abrupt end when, with two outs, he crushed Odorizzi's 0-2 fastball into the left-field seats, knotting the game at 1.
"I just wanted to put a ball up there and change eye level and go back to the slider, but he hit it," Odorizzi said. "It kind of is what it is. I went with what my strength was, and he got on top of it. Whatever he did, I was probably gonna go back to the offspeed after that, so I got beat on the pitch. But at the same time it was my best pitch on the day, so I can't really be too disappointed in it. If I'm smart, I should have just kept going offspeed and not even give him a chance."
That wasn't the end of Odorizzi's trouble in the inning. Travis Shaw followed by drawing a walk, and Hernan Perez followed with a bloop infield single to put runners at the corners. With Odorizzi at 108 pitches, Minnesota manager Paul Molitor turned to the bullpen and brought on Taylor Rogers, who struck out Domingo Santana swinging to end the inning.
Odorizzi entered the day with some of the worst run support in baseball and ended the day with a no-decision. Coming into Sunday, the Twins had produced just 3.54 runs per nine innings during Odorizzi's starts.
Still, he battled Milwaukee starter Junior Guerra to a standstill and struck out multiple batters in three different innings. He produced 12 swinging strikes with his four-seam fastball alone and 17 in total on Sunday.
"He was outstanding," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said of Odorizzi. "He pitches up in the zone, and the thing that I found is he did not miss down in the zone, which is pretty remarkable. He did not throw any balls below the middle part of the strike zone. For him, that's executing. He kept the ball up, up, up, and he's always had a good fastball up. That's where he does his work. You can tell it's a tough pitch to hit."
Byron Buxton brought the Minnesota offense to life in the fifth when he reached on a single to left field. Buxton then stole second base as Guerra blew strike three past James Dozier, and then advanced to third on a throwing error by Brewers catcher Jett Bandy.
Milwaukee turned to Dan Jennings to face Max Kepler, and Kepler hammered a single through a drawn-in Brewers infield to plate Buxton and give Minnesota a 1-0 lead.
In the eighth inning, Dozier and Kepler each reached on walks to start the inning, and Eddie Rosario moved them over with a weak groundout to short. The Brewers then walked Eduardo Escobar to load the bases, and Morrison stepped to the plate and smashed an 0-1 fastball off the right-field wall.
"Jake went out there and pitched outstanding baseball," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "He had one walk after a 3-2 foul ball and just missed on a pitch. He got to a situation where he tried to get the last out and tried to go up in the zone against a guy who had a really good series and somehow he was all over it. It was deflating at the time, but we hung with it. Our bullpen did a really good job, and we were able to muster a rally with LoMo getting the big hit."
Fernando Rodney then came on in the ninth and struck out the side against Santana, Jonathan Villar and Tyler Saladino to end the game and notch his ninth save of the year.
As a team, the Twins struck out 17 hitters on Sunday. That's the most strikeouts by Minnesota in a nine-inning game since the club struck out 19 Rangers on Aug. 19, 2007. Johan Santana struck out 17 batters in that game.
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In the top of the second, Villar lined a slicing fly ball down the left-field line. Rosario got a jump on it and made an acrobatic, backhanded adjustment at the last second to reel in the catch and retire the side.
The Twins will begin a three-game set with the Tigers on Monday at 7:10 p.m. CT. They will welcome a Detroit team that is managed by former Minnesota skipper Ron Gardenhire and has kept pace with the Twins in the American League Central. Jose Berrios will get the start for the Twins and face off with Detroit left-hander Blaine Hardy.
Jarrid Denney is a reporter for MLB.com based in Minneapolis.