SEATTLE — Three extras from a late-night victory:
When the media walked into the clubhouse after Paul Molitor’s postgame press conference, Pat Dean walked past, dripping with beer and, it turns out, barbecue sauce, a mess created in celebration of the left-hander’s first career win.
Dean had a night he’ll never forget, outpitching Felix Hernandez, whose domination of the Twins has become routinely brilliant over the past few years. Not only had the Twins not beaten King Felix in more than five years, three times since then they hadn’t even scored a run.
But Dean, with a fastball that averaged 89 mph on Friday, just kept getting outs. He retired seven straight after Franklin Gutierrez’s opposite-field blast in the first inning, and retired the final 11 hitters he faced, too. He kept hitters off-balance by throwing sliders inside, and fastballs low.
“He did a good job moving it around. Throwing strikes, pitching ahead in the count,” said catcher Kurt Suzuki. “When he needed a pitch, he made a pitch.”
Dean’s wife and parents flew to Minneapolis for his first career start last Saturday against the Blue Jays, when he got a no-decision by allowing three hits and two runs over six innings. None came to Seattle, but here’s guessing some people stayed up late in Connecticut to watch the Boston College alum record win No. 1.
Now the question becomes: When does he pitch again? Has Dean, who has given up fewer hits in his two starts than Hernandez did to the Twins on Friday, earned a few more starts? We’ll find out soon, because Kyle Gibson might be headed back to the rotation as soon as next week.
Trevor Plouffe’s right knee has been bothering him for a while, Paul Molitor said, and he tweaked it enough Friday that he had to come out of the game. “I think he could play if he had to,” the Twins manager said, but the team is concerned enough to send him for an MRI on Saturday.
They won’t immediately summon another player, Molitor said, because the hope is that the sprain in his MCL ligament is mild enough that a day or two of rest will be enough. Plouffe has already been on the disabled list once this year.
Miguel Sano bashed a long home run in the second inning, and Joe Mauer drove an opposite-field homer into the bullpen in the seventh, another sign that the Twins’ offense may be awakening after a long springtime slumber. That’s five home runs in two games for the Twins, and Sano — now tied with Byung Ho Park for the team lead at nine apiece — has six since May 11.
The Twins as a team have 41 hits, seven doubles and six home runs over their past four games, good for 22 runs. They’re also 6-1 at Safeco Field in their last seven games here.
“I wasn’t sure how to manage at the end,” Molitor said. “I haven’t had a lot of five-run leads.” He’s right about that — this is the second-largest win of the season, behind only the 8-1 drubbing of the Brewers on April 21.