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Sonny Gray throws gem as Twins beat Tigers

MLB: Detroit Tigers at Minnesota Twins
Minnesota Twins starting pitcher Sonny Gray (54) delivers a pitch against the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday during the first inning at Target Field in Minneapolis.
Nick Wosika / USA TODAY Sports
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MINNEAPOLIS — The Twins’ winning streak has featured a little bit of everything.

There was a blowout. There was a six-run comeback victory. There was a walk-off. There’s been some small ball. There’s been a grand slam. There’s been almost everything else in between as the Twins show they can win in a variety of different ways.

Tuesday, the Twins extended their winning streak to six games with a shutout victory thanks in large part to one of the best starts they’ve gotten all season. Sonny Gray, whose strong six innings last time out kicked off the streak, turned in his best start of the season on Tuesday night, throwing seven innings and striking out 10 batters in the Twins’ 2-0 win over the Detroit Tigers at Target Field.

“I came into the day knowing that we were kind of thin, knowing that we needed to get some length,” Gray said. “I just wanted to contribute and help us win a game and that was kind of my only thought, to attack, to get deep into the game, to go after the guys and just go.”

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A day after news broke that Johnson would be leaving to take the pitching coach job at Louisiana State University, Gray went out and pitched the Twins to an 11-1 win with seven scoreless innings

Gray gave up four scattered hits and exited after striking out two of the final three batters he faced in the seventh inning. It marked the 11th time in his career that he had struck out 10 or more batters and the first time this season he had reached double digits.

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The veteran has been turning in progressively longer starts, and at seven innings, Tuesday’s was his longest of the season on a day when the Twins needed it.

Gray said he had been feeling more like himself as of late, and credited catcher Ryan Jeffers for helping him make adjustments early in the game when his sinker wasn’t didn’t have the type of action he was looking for.

“He’s in a really nice rhythm right now,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “The ball’s coming out phenomenally. … He picked everyone up today.”

Behind him, center fielder Byron Buxton made one of those highlight reel catches that he’s so well-known for, racing towards right field and making a diving grab before sommersaulting to his feet. From the mound, Gray raised both of his hands above his head in appreciation.

MLB: Detroit Tigers at Minnesota Twins
Minnesota Twins third base Gio Urshela (15) hits an RBI single against the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday during the second inning at Target Field in Minneapolis.
Nick Wosika / USA TODAY Sports

“It was an incredible play,” Gray said. “That’s just what he does, though. We’re so spoiled.”

The Twins (27-16) took a lead in the second inning when Gio Urshela, who delivered a walk-off hit on Monday, drove in Max Kepler with a single. They added another run an inning later on a Carlos Correa double that brought home Luis Arraez. Arraez finished the day with two hits, making Tuesday’s game his fourth straight with multiple hits.

A two run-lead proved to be enough offense for Gray and the Twins bullpen against Detroit (14-28). Tyler Duffey threw a perfect eighth inning and Jhoan Duran picked up his fourth save of the season, helping the Twins keep their winning streak alive.

“When you know you can show up and win in any fashion, that’s when you know you’re a good team,” Duffey said. “Sonny Gray can come out and throw seven shutout, or we can have a blowout, knock-down, drag-out kind of ballgame. … If that keeps happening over the course of a season, you’re going to end up on top. I think we’ve got the right mix of guys and we’ve got a pretty special opportunity ahead of us.”

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