MINNEAPOLIS - Kenta Maeda went from having a bid for a no-hitter with three outs to go to not factoring in the decision Tuesday night as the Minnesota Twins got a 4-3 walk-off win in 12 innings over the Milwaukee Brewers at Target Field.
The only hit Maeda allowed was Eric Sogard's lead-off, bloop single to short center field just over a leaping Jorge Polanco in the ninth. The Brewers eventually rallied for three runs off closer Taylor Rogers, tying the game when Marwin Gonzalez couldn't make a clean catch at first on a double play bid. It was just the third Twins' error of the season.
Maeda was making a bid for the first Twins' no-hitter since Francisco Liriano in May of 2011, when he no-hit the Chicago White Sox. He entered the ninth with 113 pitches, exiting after giving up the lead-off single. On 115 pitches, Maeda threw 78 strikes.
"It’s been a while since I threw so many pitches like I did tonight. The hit I gave up was a weak contact hit. I think I executed the pitch, there’s nothing I could do about it. In my days back in Japan, it’s normal for me to throw this many pitches per outing," Maeda said.
The Twins got out ouf the innning with the game tied 3-3, and Rogers sought out Maeda in the dugout between innings to apologize to him. Maeda finished with 12 strikeouts, one shy of his career high, and set a Twins’ record by striking out eight straight Brewers at one point. Maeda retired 21 straight Milwaukee hitters before issuing a one-out walk in the eighth inning.
"That was one of the best games I’ve ever seen pitched in baseball. He’s facing a team that he just faced last week with good hitters, and he dominated and he did everything he could possibly do. He was in total control. He’s showing us all of the different dimensions to what he can do out on the mound. To watch a performance like that does put you a little bit in awe," Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said.
For the first time this season, the Twins played extra innings and implemented the new MLB rule of starting the inning with a runner at second and nobody out. The Twins capitalized in the 12th, with Byron Buxton at second after ending the previous inning hitting into his second double play of the night. Buxton advanced to third on Alex Avila's swinging bunt groundout at first. The Twins got the game-winner with Polanco up, and the Brewers switching to a five-man infield. Polanco got a ground ball past the pitcher, and Buxton beat the throw home for the win.
The Twins got the lead in the bottom of the fifth after Luis Arraez led off the inning with a double to right center, then scored on Miguel Sano’s double to left center for a 1-0 lead. The Twins got an insurance run in the bottom of the seventh on Polanco’s two-out single to right, scoring Ehire Adrianza, who was pinch running after Sano hit his second double of the night.
The Twins made it 3-0 in the eighth after Eddie Rosario walked, stole second, got to third on a balk and scored on Adrianza’s perfectly executed squeeze punt past the pitcher.
But Tuesday night was about Maeda, the starter the Twins acquired in the trade that sent hard-throwing reliever Brusdar Graterol to the L.A. Dodgers. Other than Randy Dobnak, Maeda has been the best and most consistent starter for the Twins this season. He's now 3-0 in five starts with a 2.27 earned run average.
The Twins improved to 16-8, have won three straight and have a 1.5 game lead over the Cleveland Indians in the American League Central Division.