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Tyler Mahle throws six scoreless frames as Twins oust Angels

The right-handed pitcher allowed just three hits

MLB: Minnesota Twins at Los Angeles Angels
Minnesota Twins starting pitcher Tyler Mahle throws against the Los Angeles Angels during the third inning at Angel Stadium on Aug. 12, 2022.
Gary A. Vasquez / USA Today Sports
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ANAHEIM, Calif. — When Rocco Baldelli took a slow walk out to the mound in the sixth inning Friday, the Twins manager thought the exchange would probably end with him taking Tyler Mahle out of the game.

Normally, when Baldelli makes that walk, with his starter in trouble and a reliever fully warmed up, he takes the ball, gives the starter a pat on the back and then waits as the reliever trots in from the bullpen to hand the game off. His decision, usually, is made before he leaves the dugout.

But that wasn’t the case on Friday night.

With two outs and runners on second and third, Baldelli had a chat with Mahle and the group of players assembled around him and then made his way back to the dugout. Baldelli’s faith in his pitcher paid off; Mahle got Taylor Ward to fly out to right field to end the threat. His six scoreless innings led the Twins to a 4-0 win on Friday night over the Angels at Angel Stadium.
“That’s one of the few times where really I’m walking out there and not just signaling from the line early on,” Baldelli said. “Most of the time. we know what we’re doing and we make the move and we bring the next guy in and let him do his job. But in that spot, I went out there with a thought. I walked away with a different thought.”

Reading body language, Baldelli said, is just as important — or more — as what a pitcher actually says because most of the time, the pitcher will say that he wants to stay in. Mahle appeared relaxed, giving Baldelli the confidence to leave him in there.

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“It’s a confidence booster,” Mahle said. “I had full confidence that I could get that next guy out and I had a feeling he wasn’t going to take me out while he was walking out.”

Mahle, pitching just miles away from where he grew up in front of some family and friends, put on a show. Prior to that inning, Mahle, hadn’t even allowed a runner to reach second base, facing little trouble against the Angels (49-64) lineup all night. He struck out five, including reigning American League MVP Shohei Ohtani twice. The righty allowed just three hits in his outing, turning in a strong performance in just his second start as a Twin.

“We worked really well,” catcher Sandy Leon said. “I think the first thing with him was getting ahead. He was spinning his stuff after that. We got early outs. He went deep into the game. Six innings for us, we really needed that.”

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Mahle, Michael Fulmer and Jorge Lopez — all acquired in the Aug. 2 trade deadline — each turned in scoreless efforts, as did Jhoan Duran, who pitched the eighth.

Twins pitchers were protecting a lead for most of the game after Gilberto Celestino deposited a ball into the Twins (58-53) bullpen in left field. It was Celestino’s first home run since June 30, 2021, and it brought home Gio Urshela, who had singled right before him.

Urshela finished the day a triple shy of the cycle, doubling in the fourth inning and adding his 11th home run of the season in the sixth as the Twins snapped a three-game losing streak.

“This is a good way to get revved up,” Baldelli said.

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