MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Dallas Keuchel carried a perfect game into the seventh inning before allowing a double to Pittsburgh’s Bryan Reynolds, and Edouard Julien drove in a pair of runs for the Minnesota Twins in a 2-0 win against the Pirates on Sunday.
Keuchel, the 35-year-old, soft-tossing left-hander, didn’t allow a baserunner until Reynolds’ drive with one out in the seventh evaded outfielder Matt Wallner and deflected off the wall for the first hit. Signed to a minor league contract in June, Keuchel (1-1) was making his third start in the majors this season.
He was pulled after allowing Reynolds’s hit on his 85th pitch of the game. Griffin Jax got two strikeouts to end the seventh. Jhoan Duran struck out two in the ninth and earned his 23rd save.
“I feel like I’m very aware of everything going on,” Keuchel said of knowing he had a perfect game going. “To me, that’s the fun part, is going out and competing against other great athletes in the box. To do that, and corral the strike zone again today, was probably the most fun I’ve had in a very long time and I’d like to keep it up.”
Julien plated Donovan Solano with a sacrifice fly in the fourth and then drove in Solano with a double in the sixth for Minnesota, which has won five of seven and extended its lead in the American League Central to six games over Cleveland.
“It’s not by accident that he continues to find ways to get outs, and he’s been doing it for over a decade,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “And he’s doing it in a way that you see less of in today’s game.”
Pittsburgh right-hander Osvaldo Bido (2-4) gave up two runs in 3 1/3 innings after replacing opener Ryan Borucki, who threw two perfect innings to start.
The Pirates have lost eight of 12 and were being no-hit into the middle innings for the second straight day. Sonny Gray carried a perfect game into the sixth inning on Saturday before Pittsburgh rallied for a 3-1 victory.
“Last night, we did a good job bouncing back and won the game against a really effective starter,” Pirates manager Derek Shelton said. “I think we saw a game today that Keuchel took advantage of a very liberal strike zone. When you get a veteran guy that can manipulate the ball the way he does, he did a good job doing that.”
Baldelli spoke with Keuchel in the middle of the game and asked the veteran if he thought he could finish the game if the no-hitter was intact. Keuchel gave an emphatic yes, in part due to the large amounts of caffeine he had consumed.
“That might have been some of the caffeine working in my bloodstream, but at the same time, I just kind of assessed each inning and I was being truthful,” Keuchel said, adding about the seventh inning: “I knew I was kind of running on fumes at that point. So it wasn’t a relief, but at the same time, when I came out, I knew I gave everything I had.”
Pirates: RHP Dauri Moreta was activated from the 15-day injured list after recovering from low back inflammation. LHP Angel Perdomo was placed on the 15-day injured list with left elbow discomfort.
Twins: C Ryan Jeffers (sore back) was back in the lineup after missing two games. … OF Wallner also returned to the lineup for the first time since being hit by a pitch on a swing in Friday’s game. Wallner was then hit in the elbow by a pitch in the fifth inning but stayed in the game.
Pirates: The Pirates have not announced a starter for Monday’s series opener at home against St. Louis. The Cardinals have LHP Matthew Liberatore (2-5, 6.12 ERA) scheduled to start.
Twins: After an off day, Minnesota travels for a two-game series at Milwaukee with RHP Bailey Ober (6-6, 3.40) starting the first game. LHP Wade Miley (6-3, 3.05) is scheduled to start for the Brewers.