Adalberto Mejia walked off the mound and onto the disabled list Tuesday night. His teammates paid their respects with a five-homer salute.
Mejia will undergo a magnetic resonance imaging exam on Wednesday, with the Twins praying that the pain he suddenly felt in his upper left arm is nothing structural. The rest of the Twins will be in Milwaukee, trying to “ride the wave,” as Max Kepler put it, of one of the most impressive offensive onslaughts they have inflicted on an opponent this year.
Kepler homered twice, Eddie Rosario did as well, and Brian Dozier provided the first grand slam of his career, an opposite-field shot that put the Twins ahead for good in an 11-4 victory over Milwaukee at Target Field. In the span of 14 batters, the Twins collected as many home runs as outs, and at 55-56 pulled themselves within 1½ games of a wild-card spot.
“A lot of big nights. It was fun to watch the guys swing the bat,” manager Paul Molitor said of the Twins’ third consecutive comeback victory. “You can tell Rosie’s locked in and Kepler’s swinging better as of late.”
Kepler had hit just one home run since July 3. Rosario had only two homers since June 26. And while Dozier had 137 career home runs, none came with the bases loaded. In fact, none of his previous 29, dating back to last Sept. 3, had involved even two runners on base.
So you can’t really say anyone saw this coming.
Or can you? “You do feel those things when you’re on a little bit of a roll,” Molitor said. “[It gives you] confidence in coming back.”
That the Twins did, falling behind 1-0 in the second inning and 4-2 in the fourth, when Tyler Duffey came on for Mejia and allowed a couple of inherited runners to score. But Dillon Gee pitched four shutout innings to earn his first career save — and quite possibly, Mejia’s spot in the rotation — and his teammates battered former Twins righthander Matt Garza for eight runs.
But amid the jubilation, there was a dark cloud hovering. Mejia threw a strike past Keon Broxton in the fourth inning, then shook the fingers on his pitching hand and motioned for teammate Miguel Sano to summon the trainer. The rookie lefthander was quickly pulled from the game, and underwent a series of medical tests.
The verdict: Mejia had experienced pain between the triceps and biceps, the team said, and would require more extensive testing. The Twins decided not to wait for the results of Wednesday’s magnetic resonance imaging exam; they put him on the 10-day DL after the game.
“It’s probably better than a shoulder or an elbow or forearm muscle that can tear,” Molitor said, trying to stay positive.
The Twins will summon another player Wednesday, and Gee, who has pitched seven innings without giving up a run, “is obviously an option” for Sunday’s game at Detroit.
Mejia was trying to stay positive, too. “It started bothering me in the second inning. I didn’t think it was going to be a big deal, but obviously it was,” he said. “I’m a little worried because I don’t know what it is. But we should know more tomorrow, and I hope it’ll be fine.”
Any angst over Mejia quickly faded for an announced crowd of 34,185 by the Twins’ power- hitting fireworks. Kepler smacked a two-run shot onto the plaza in right. Rosario crushed a shot to straightaway center. Dozier, who hadn’t homered with even two runners on since Sept. 2, connected on his opposite-field slam in the fifth, and Kepler followed with a back-to-back shot even deeper to right.
“[Garza] was doing a good job of keeping it down, but after that tough inning, you could tell he got frustrated, kind of lazy about keeping the ball down,” Kepler said. “Dozier recognized it and ambushed him.”