DETROIT – An 0-1 changeup to the Tigers’ Niko Goodrum landed in the seats in right for a two-run home run, which is not the way Trevor Hildenberger wanted his ninth inning to start.
But he got the desired ending, as he struck out JaCoby Jones with a runner on first to close out the Twins’ 4-3 win over the Tigers and notch the first save of the post-Fernando Rodney era.
All it did for Hildenberger is lead to more questions. It was the 10th home run he’s allowed, most among Twins relievers. And it’s the fourth consecutive outing in which he’s given up a long ball. The last two have been off his normally trusty changeup. The one Cleveland’s Francisco Lindor hit on Wednesday was up and deserved to be belted. The one to Goodrum was down and fading away from him, but he leaned over and pulled it to right. And that bothers Hildenberger.
“I’ve got to look at the film and see if I’m tipping something on off-speed, because guys are taking pretty comfortable swings on my off-speed pitches,” Hildenberger said. “The 0-1 changeup to Goodrum, I didn’t think was that bad of a pitch.”
It was the first save situation without Rodney, and a chance to see how Twins manager Paul Molitor would handle it. He considered letting Trevor May, who used just 11 pitches to get through the eighth, pitch the ninth. With a three-run lead, he chose to do what often is done, give a struggling reliever a chance to redeem himself.
“I was kinda looking for a spot there for Hildy to get him back on track,” Molitor said.
After the home run, Jim Adducci singled to right. But Hildenberger got the next three outs for his second major league save — the first one occurring Aug. 13 of last year at Comerica Park.
“Hildy showed a little something there,” Molitor said.
Kyle Gibson held the Tigers to one run over seven innings. Tyler Austin, making his Twins debut, belted a two-run homer. And the Twins broke a three-game losing streak.
Next up, Hildenberger will look to end his home run streak.
“I really appreciate the vote of confidence from the coaching staff to throw me out there tonight in that situation after the string of outings that I have had,” said Hildenberger, who has a 4.74 ERA.
Morrison done for year
First baseman-designated hitter Logan Morrison’s season is over: He was placed on the disabled list because of the same left hip impingement that landed him on the list one month ago.
This time, he’s going to have season-ending surgery.
“There’s some history there,” Molitor said. “He’s been dealing with certain symptoms at certain times and sometimes they are more tolerable than others and he’s played through it. It’s hard to measure the effect on this season. It is something that we have decided to go forward with now, sooner than later, with the potential of that being a fairly long recovery, depending on what they have to once they get in there.”
And that closes the book on Morrison, who batted .186 with 15 home runs and 36 RBI. The Twins signed him to a one-year deal worth $6.5 million that includes a $1 million buyout after he hit 38 home runs for Tampa Bay last season.
The call-up of Austin on Friday indicated that something was going to happen with Morrison. The move opens up space for Kohl Stewart, who will make his major league debut Sunday.
Mejia not looking good
Lefthander Adalberto Mejia’s season looks in jeopardy as well, as he has been diagnosed with a nerve traction injury. There is more testing to be done, but it doesn’t appear that Mejia will be pitching any time soon.
“They are going to try to get that a little bit more precise as to how they are going to define it and how extensive the time down will be and that he proper treatment is for it,” Molitor said.
Molitor said it doesn’t appear to involve the ulnar nerve.
Mejia injured himself on the final pitch of his outing on Tuesday while finishing up five innings of scoreless work against the Indians. He felt a twinge near his wrist at first, but then it affected more of his arm. Mejia then had trouble playing catch on Friday in Detroit and was sent to the Twin Cities for tests.