February 3, 2023

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Twins ride 5 HRs — 2 each by Miranda, Garlick

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Buxton adds 2-run jack in 9th inning as Minnesota picks up 'huge' win in Toronto
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TORONTO — If there was ever a time for a “next man up” mentality, this was it. Kyle Garlick and Jose Miranda responded accordingly.

The duo belted a pair of home runs each, driving in six runs in the Twins’ 9-3 victory over the Blue Jays on Friday night that began with all eyes on who was not on the field at Rogers Centre.

The Twins arrived for the series opener in the midst of a three-game skid, fresh off the announcement that Max Kepler, Emilio Pagán, Caleb Thielbar and Trevor Megill landed on the restricted list and did not make the trip.

It would have been easy to let that turn into a distraction, but instead, Minnesota locked in.

“At this point, we have games to play,” manager Rocco Baldelli said before the game. “We don’t have time, to be honest, to continue to have the same discussion over and over again. If something changes, then we’ll talk about it. But, right now, we have to worry about playing the Blue Jays.”

Garlick heeded his manager’s words, drilling a Yusei Kikuchi fastball to left-center field for a two-run blast in the first inning that guaranteed the focus would be nowhere else but the diamond.

Not to be outdone, Miranda followed that with a solo home run in the second inning that gave the lead right back to the Twins after the Blue Jays tied things up at 2 in the bottom of the first. Garlick added his own solo jack in the very next frame and the game slowed down until the sixth, when Miranda belted his second of the night for his first career multi-homer game.

“It felt great,” Miranda said, after the Twins snapped Toronto’s eight-game winning streak. “We were coming from a tough series against the Tigers, so getting this one, especially against a good team like the Blue Jays … it was huge.”

Byron Buxton joined in on the party in the top of the ninth with a two-run homer.

It was the first time in almost a year that the Twins had two or more players with multiple home runs in a game, and the first time since April with at least five jacks as a team.

“We really came alive,” Baldelli said. “Sometimes, when you kind of take it to the other team and keep punching back after going back and forth for a little while, our guys just didn’t stop. And it was great to see.”

The offensive outpouring was a welcome change after a Detroit series that saw Minnesota’s bats go quiet at the tail end of a five-game span that included two shutout losses.

Friday’s production was aided by a lights-out bullpen, which tossed six hitless innings with six strikeouts as starter Chi Chi González departed after three.

This is who the Twins believe they are: top to bottom, a surprisingly effective group.

“We have a lot of different guys that we turn to,” Baldelli said. “A lot of guys that can do it and are dangerous hitters up and down the lineup. Seeing Jose Miranda do it, coming up so big for us on a day like this, it’s huge.”

Twenty-three games into his MLB career, Miranda now has four home runs, three of which came in his last four games, to go with 10 RBIs.

What’s working for him? Confidence and an increased comfort level at the plate.

“I just have to learn that I have to go out there and play the game, like I used to in the Minors and when I was young,” Miranda said. “It feels good now. It feels better.”

Garlick hadn’t hit a home run in nine games, but his value keeps shining through facing left-handers such as Kikuchi. Five of Garlick’s six homers, along with 11 of his 14 RBIs, have come against southpaws.

His stellar night was cut short, however, as Garlick left the game in the sixth inning with a mild right hamstring strain after logging a single for his third hit. The Twins also lost Gio Urshela, who sprained his right foot trying to dive back to second base on a pickoff attempt. He is considered day to day.

By this point, the Twins are no strangers to getting the most of who’s available. And they’re more than happy to keep their focus on the game.

“There are a lot of different things going on,” Baldelli said. “We’re coming to Canada, there are different rules that affect the roster. We’re coming off a series where we didn’t play our best, either. And to come up here and beat a good team at their ballpark, I think it says a lot about our group.”

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