Twins crank out 18 hits in 16-3 victory over Cubs
Slowly but surely, Louie Varland is becoming — and feeling like — a major league pitcher. And for his 12th big league start on Sunday, the North St. Paul grad got a little help from his lineup.
Staked to an 8-0 lead after three innings, Varland pitched a career-high 6⅓ innings for his second major league victory in the Twins’ 16-3 victory over the Chicago Cubs in front of a Mother’s Day crowd of 33,419 at Target Field.
An 8-0 lead, of course, helps.
“Makes it easier to attack, I’ll tell you that,” he said.
Trevor Larnach went 2 for 4 with a three run home run, a run-scoring double, a walk and two runs scored, and Joey Gallo added a two-run homer in a seven-run third inning that, for all intents and purposes, put the game away early.
Carlos Correa, Kyle Farmer, Nick Gordon and Christian Vazquez all drove in a pair of runs, and Correa extended his hitting streak to five games, as the Twins set a record for scoring in a three-game series at Target Field, 29 total runs while winning 2 of 3.
Minnesota won Saturday’s game 11-1 on the strength of five home runs, two from Alex Kirilloff and a mammoth three-run blow from Gallo.
“I thought we’d been hitting the ball, even before that game, pretty well,” said Gallo, whose two-run home run off Cubs starter Marcus Stroman (2-4) gave the Twins their 8-0 lead in the third. “Sometimes you get the results, sometimes you don’t. Yesterday, obviously, it’s just a confidence boost. Everybody is feeling good. Everybody is getting hits.”
On Sunday, the Twins’ last five runs came against Cubs outfielder Miles Mastrobuoni, who relieved with Chicago trailing 11-3 in the eighth inning.
Pitching in the majors for the first time, he gave up four consecutive run-scoring hits — a single to Farmer, a double to Nick Gordon, a single to Christian Vazquez and a two-run home run to Michael A. Taylor, who entered the game in the eighth inning as an injury replacement for Gallo.
But the big blow came from Larnach in his second game back from a short trip back to St. Paul. He came up with two on and two out in the third and took an 87 mph slider from Stroman into the home run porch in right-center to make it 6-0.
“The first few are always the toughest, it feels like,” manager Rocco Baldelli said, “and Larnach with the huge swing to get us you know a few runs on the board real quick (was) very nice.”
Gallo’s home run traveled 402 feet into the plaza in right field. On Saturday, he hit a 422-foot shot into the second deck in right center and has five RBIs in two days.
Varland’s performance was nearly lost in the Twins’ surfeit of runs, but it shouldn’t be forgotten. He retired 17 of the first 19 batters he faced and allowed just two runs on solo home runs by Christopher Morel and Seiya Suzuki for his first big league win since his last start in 2022.
“I guess I learned that I’m not out of any count, if I fall behind or not,” the right-hander said. “I have the stuff to get swings and misses, to be effective. I’m learning to be confident with my stuff at this level.”
Varland (1-0) faced the minimum through the first three innings, and then only as many as four after that. After surrendering a leadoff homer to Suzuki in the seventh, he got Patrick Wisdom to ground out before allowing his only walk to Trey Mancini and left with an 8-2 lead.
As Varland left the field, he received a standing ovation. He estimated that more than 100 friends and family members were in attendance, including his mother, Kim.
“I got (her) a gift already, and a phone call, so I’m good,” he said. “I’m sure (this) helps.”