BALTIMORE – Trevor May appeared on the verge of a breakthrough Friday, setting down the Orioles on one hit through three innings.
“He was pretty much running through their lineup,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “But it’s more than three innings.”
And it’s more than just a couple of bad pitches for the Twins prospect. May’s latest meltdown began with a leadoff single, heated up with back-to-back hit batsmen, and exploded with Chris Davis’ grand slam into the right-field seats. Delmon Young added a controversial homer an inning later, Baltimore tagged May for eight runs all together, and the Twins lost for the fifth time in six games, 9-1 at Camden Yards.
“You’d hope they would just miss a ball once or twice, but I got myself in those situations,” May said after falling to 0-4 in his month-old major league career. The strong start “is a step in the right direction, but all that matters is how many runs you give up.”
That’s true. Another awful start inflated May’s ERA to 10.42, through Gardenhire said the Twins will stick with the 24-year-old through these growing pains. “He’s one of our starters,” Gardenhire said flatly.
But figuring out how to keep May from imploding has become one of the season’s great challenges. May struck out the side twice Friday, and eight of his 14 outs were whiffs, showing he has the tools for success. “We saw great stuff,” Gardenhire said, fastballs “with an angle [and] great changeup in some big situations. A nice little breaking ball.” But when it started to go wrong, he couldn’t get it back. After giving up five runs in the fourth, he surrendered a leadoff double to Nick Markakis in the fifth, then an RBI single to Adam Jones. With two outs, he left a pitch over the plate to Delmon Young, and it ended up in the left-field seats.”
Said May: “I say it every single time — make a pitch. I didn’t make a pitch. Two pitches account for six of those runs. Both times, I didn’t make a pitch and I paid for it.”
Gardenhire said it looked as though May lost his poise after plunking Jones and Nelson Cruz. “He’s got to learn to control his emotions,” Gardenhire said. “You hit a guy, he’s got to take a deep breath and go at it. You’ve got to be able to slow it down.”
Gardenhire doesn’t know which umpire, stationed back in MLB’s replay headquarters in New York, ruled on Young’s fifth-inning homer. But he knows what should happen to him.
“The person that looked at that film shouldn’t have been working there, because that’s a joke. That’s embarrassing,” Gardenhire said. “The system didn’t work tonight.”
Left fielder Jordan Schafer ran into the left-field wall trying to catch the blast, Young’s seventh homer of the season, but missed it. Replays showed — clearly showed, the Twins insist — a fan behind Schafer reaching over the wall, catching the ball, and pulling it into the stands.
After making sure Schafer wasn’t seriously hurt, Gardenhire challenged the call, and watched replays on the scoreboard while waiting for a ruling. When it came back — home run upheld — Gardenhire was livid.
“The guy reached over the fence, caught the ball over the fence,” Gardenhire said. “That can’t happen at this level. It’s not supposed to happen. We’re supposed to get it right.”
Home plate umpire Mike Winters even allowed Gardenhire to vent; arguing over a replay call is supposed to result in automatic ejection. Gardenhire said he appreciated it.
“He went above and beyond, because he let me say my piece,” Gardenhire said. “He understood totally. The crew here did what they were supposed to do. Here.”
Trevor Plouffe provided the Twins’ lone run with a solo home run in the seventh inning, and he made a little history besides. The shot was the 10,000th in the history of the Twins (and Washington Senators) franchise, making them the 16th team to reach that mark.
“It’s nice. When you think about the fact that Harmon Killebrew had more than 5 percent of that total, that’s pretty amazing,” Plouffe said.
The third baseman also hit home run No. 9,999 one week earlier, a homer mistakenly believed to be the 10,000th until Elias Sports Bureau did some additional research.
The Orioles retrieved the ball for posterity from the fan who caught it, a Baltimore fan who agreed to exchange it for some Orioles merchandise.