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Twins ambush Mariners ace Logan Gilbert with a 5-run 1st inning and cruise to an 11-1 win

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Manny Margot highlighted a five-run first inning for Minnesota with a three-run double off Seattle ace Logan Gilbert, and the Twins coasted to an 11-1 victory over the Mariners to win their fifth consecutive series on Thursday afternoon.

Pablo López (4-2) pitched into the seventh with a season-high 10 strikeouts to win his third straight start. Ryan Jeffers and Max Kepler each homered and drove in two runs, Jose Miranda scored three runs on two hits and Margot matched his career high with five RBIs for the Twins (22-15), who won for the 15th time in their last 17 games.

“I don’t know what more I could ask for from our offense and the way they did their jobs,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “I was sitting back for a period of time, just watching and being very impressed with the whole group.”

This matchup of premier American League starting pitchers didn’t materialize. Gilbert (3-1) ominously issued a four-pitch leadoff walk and hit his previous season high of five hits allowed in just eight batters.

The Twins got the bounces, like when Miranda checked his swing in the first inning and accidentally hit a slow-bouncing single up the third base line. But there were plenty of hard-hit balls, like the 104 mph drive Jeffers sent into the flower boxes above the wall in left-center field.

Gilbert failed to pitch into the sixth for the first time in eight starts this season. The 2018 first-round draft pick gave up eight runs, the most since he was a rookie in 2021, on nine hits and two walks while finishing five innings. The AL-leading ERA of 1.69 he took into the game rocketed up to 2.94.

“What I was doing today obviously wasn’t working,” Gilbert said.

López gave up one run on four hits without a walk in 6 1/3 innings, which included a slick catch by shortstop Willi Castro of a line drive that first glanced off the third baseman Miranda’s glove.

The stars of the show were at the plate for the Twins, who have averaged 6.6 runs and 10.1 hits over this 17-game surge. Kepler set his career high with an 11-game hitting streak and is batting .434 with three homers and 14 RBIs in 16 games since coming off the injured list. Jeffers, who entered the game ranked third in the AL in OPS, went deep for the eighth time this season.

That Twins have hit their stride with Royce Lewis and Byron Buxton sidelined — a testament to their depth.

“There’s no way to have sustained success in this game if there’s only a portion of the lineup that’s producing,” Baldelli said.

The Mariners struck out 53 times this week at Target Field, a Twins record for a four-game series. Cal Raleigh, who had a grand slam on Tuesday and a two-run double on Wednesday, whiffed in all three of his at-bats against López.

Julio Rodriguez, the 2022 AL Rookie of the Year and two-time All-Star, is batting .212 over his last 12 games with one extra-base hit and one RBI.

“There’s only a couple guys that would tell you that they’re really happy with how things have gone for them this year,” right fielder Mitch Haniger said. “We need to pick it up.”

UP NEXT

Mariners RHP Bryan Woo will come off the injured list and start on Friday night, when they host Oakland to commence a three-game series. RHP Paul Blackburn (3-1, 3.00 ERA) pitches for the A’s.

Twins RHP Joe Ryan (1-2, 3.54 ERA) pitches on Friday night to open a three-game series at Toronto. LHP Yusei Kikuchi (2-2, 2.72 ERA) starts for the Blue Jays.

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AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB

By DAVE CAMPBELL
AP Sports Writer

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