A bunch of extras from another loss to the White Sox on Saturday:
Brandon Kintzler had been a Twin for about six hours when he made a great first impression on his new manager.
The righthanded sinkerballer made his Minnesota debut with one out in the fourth inning Saturday, relieving Ervin Santana with the bases loaded and Jose Abreu coming to the plate. He proceeded to end the inning without a run scoring, striking out Abreu and retiring Todd Frazier on a dribbler to third.
“He came in in a tough spot there and faced a couple of really good hitters,” manager Paul Molitor said. “He got Abreu to expand a little bit with the sinker. He got out of the inning with a tapper. He did a good job of giving us an opportunity.”
His fastball was an effective pitch, too. Kintzler went another inning and got a popup and a double-play ball, a quick three-batter inning.
“He was throwing harder than we saw in the spring,” Molitor said. “I think he was pretty juiced with adrenalin out there.”
Jorge Polanco’s latest debut with the Twins didn’t go as well. He drove in a run by getting hit by a pitch in the first inning, and he had the Twins’ only hit off Chris Sale after the first inning, a one-out double in the fourth.
But Polanco was nearly thrown out at second base because he didn’t slide. And a couple pitches later, he actually was thrown out there. Polanco broke toward third on a ground ball to shortstop Tyler Saladino, and by the time he scrambled back to second, he was an easy out for Brett Lawrie.
“Inexperience,” Molitor said. “I talked to him. There was no reason not to slide on the double, and then goes with a ball hit in front of him. There was nowhere to go, and he got caught. You take a run out of scoring position.”
Ervin Santana was unsteady in his return from back spasms, allowing seven hits, three walks and three runs while retiring just 10 batters. Brandon Kintzler was effective in his Twins debut, but Ryan Pressly allowed three more runs — one scoring on a bases-loaded hit batsman — and Kevin Jepsen one.
“The hard part of all this is that we’re taxing our bullpen with these short outings,” Molitor grumbled. “We try to hang in the game, but we can’t find a way to get back on the board. And they keep tacking on.”
The Twins have given up 157 runs, the most in the American League, still have no starting pitcher with more than one victory, and have fallen behind at some point in 29 of their 30 games.
Joe Mauer has been out of the lineup just twice this season. And he’s wound up playing nine innings both times.
Mauer pinch-hit in the eighth inning on April 24 in Washington, then remained in a game that lasted 16 innings. And Saturday, when Molitor decided his first baseman could use another night off, he was in the game in the first inning. Byung Ho Park, scheduled to play first in Mauer’s place, was hit by a pitch on his knee, and was removed when the knee grew sore.
Mauer went 0-for-3, meaning that after reaching base in each of the Twins’ first 28 games, he has now gone two straight games (and is 0-for-7) without getting on base.