MINNEAPOLIS – With his move to Minnesota, Kenta Maeda welcomed the opportunity to be a full-time starter and finally be done dabbling in the bullpen.
His capability and durability was on full display Tuesday night.
Maeda lost a no-hitter in the ninth inning for the Twins, who blew a three-run lead but came back to beat the Milwaukee Brewers 4-3 in 12 innings.
“He was in total control. He’s showing us all of the different dimensions to what he can do out on the mound,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “Even for people who are in baseball, to watch a performance like that does put you a little bit in awe.”
Maeda’s no-hit bid ended on Eric Sogard’s soft single that soared just over the glove of leaping shortstop Jorge Polanco. Maeda set a club record with eight consecutive strikeouts and finished the game with 12 punchouts on 115 pitches — the most thrown by any pitcher in baseball this season and the most in Maeda’s five-year major league career since arriving from Japan.
“In my days back in Japan, it’s normal for me to throw this many pitches per outing. But then again, it’s been awhile since the last time I pitched in Japan, so I’m kind of tired today,” Maeda said through his interpreter.
Byron Buxton helped salvage his gem. Buxton slid headfirst into home on a slow roller against a five-man infield in the 12th for the winning run. Jorge Polanco poked the grounder past David Phelps (2-2), and second baseman Luis Urías fielded the ball cleanly but couldn't send it home in time to beat Buxton, who was charging from third after opening the inning as Minnesota's automatic runner at second.
“I still think on a regular ground ball we have a chance to throw him out,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said.