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BALTIMORE – Twins reliever Brock Stewart faced five hitters on Wednesday, two of them lefthanded, two righthanded, and one a switch-hitter who batted from the left side.

Both of the righthanders struck out, including the first batter Stewart faced, Jordan Westburg, who was in a critical spot: Runners on second and third with two outs.

That he escaped that threat wasn't exactly a surprise, given that the 32-year-old Stewart has a righthanded no-hitter going this season. Righthanders are now 0-for-13 against him in 2024 with seven strikeouts.

Quite a streak, isn't it?

"I don't know," Stewart said after a 4-2 loss to the Orioles at Camden Yards. "To be honest, I couldn't even tell you my stats. I don't look at my numbers."

The Twins do, though, and they're well aware that last year, his first with the Twins, Stewart held right-handers to a .203 average — while limiting lefties to just .184. He struck out 39 batters in 27⅔ innings, most of them with the game at stake, and gave up only one home run, a grand slam to Jose Altuve in May, all season.

"I don't mind bringing one of our absolute best relievers in to face the middle of anyone's lineup," Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. "I will never hesitate to use Brock, handedness aside. He can pitch to anyone in the game."

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So it seems, and Baldelli is intent upon preserving that weapon — a tricky quest, perhaps, given that Stewart missed three seasons earlier in his career due to a pair of elbow surgeries, and even sat out much of last year with a forearm strain. Which is why the manager has a special policy in place for Stewart.

"If you get Brock Stewart hot, unless the game absolutely turns on its head, we're going to put Brock in the game and let him go," Baldelli said. "The last thing we want to do is warm Brock and not put him in the game. And [quickly], too, so he's not throwing down there forever."

No manager wants to warm up relievers and not use them, but some pitchers are better able to handle the added workload than others, Baldelli said, citing former Twin Sergio Romo as an example. With Stewart, though, the Twins take no chances.

"I appreciate that, big-time. I definitely understand that it happens sometimes. But for him to say that, that's really cool," Stewart said. "I'm not expecting any protection. I'm not on a guaranteed contract. I'm part of the team, and if they need me to pitch, I want to pitch."

Tough call

Speaking of knowing when to change pitchers, Baldelli said his decision Wednesday to pull Pablo López after six innings and 87 pitches was one of the more difficult ones he's had this year, given the team's slow start.

After Gunnar Henderson's leadoff home run to open his day, López gave up only one more hit, an infield single, and he had retired 12 straight Orioles when the seventh inning arrived. Even more critical, the Twins had just taken their first lead of the series with a pair of runs in the seventh.

"I talked to him in the tunnel. He said he felt good. Not the easiest of calls, probably right on the line," Baldelli said. "Our bullpen has been good [but] we'd like to have more than a one-run lead. The margin of error is very thin."

López said he tried to make a case for remaining in the game "a little bit. I was feeling good and a little better and stronger as the outing went on," he said. "But I felt good about what I had done to that point, and if I have to turn it over to our bullpen, I'm fine doing that every single time."

This time, the decision backfired. Lefthander Steven Okert, who had not allowed a home run all season, this time left a knee-high 92-mph fastball in the middle of the plate, and Anthony Santander lined it into the Twins' bullpen, tying the game.


Max Kepler will travel to Indianapolis on Thursday and join the Class AAA Saints for this weekend's games, a rehab assignment as he returns from a bruised knee.

Michael Tonkin, who opened the season in the Mets' bullpen before the Twins acquired him last week, is returning to New York. The Mets claimed him Wednesday after the Twins waived him last Friday in order to open a roster spot for Jair Camargo.

Saints also walked off

A walk-off RBI single by Carter Bins off reliever Ryan Jensen broke a scoreless tie, and the St. Paul Saints lost 1-0 to the Indianapolis Indians on Wednesday at Victory Field. Saints starter David Festa pitched four scoreless innings, striking out five and giving up two hits and two walks. The Saints had just three hits and struck out 12 times.