Three extras from the first game of a seven-game homestand:
Eduardo Nunez had never faced CC Sabathia before, mostly because they were teammates for much of Nunez’s career. But the Twins infielder still knew what to expect from the Yankees righthander.
“He tries to fool you with the changeup,” Nunez said. “He’s got a lot of pitches, sinkers and fastballs, then he slips that one in.”
But Nunez was ready. After striking out on a fastball in the first inning, then drawing a walk in the second, Nunez came up with two runners on base and two outs in the fourth inning of a scoreless game. The Yankees’ infield had swung around toward left field for the righthanded hitter, and Nunez saw an opportunity.
“I was looking for the big hole over there [on the right side], so anything middle [or] outside, I was trying to put it over there,” Nunez said. He did, slapping a line drive to right field, his first RBI single to right field this season, and his first RBI of any kind since June 7.
Facing the Yankees doesn’t mean much to Nunez anymore, he said, but facing Sabathia did. “It was good. I like competition,” he said. “I like challenge,”
The Twins got a good look at the Yankees’ six-inning game plan on Thursday, the way New York’s big three relievers effectively silence any chance of a rally late in the game. Dellin Betances threw a handful of 100-mph pitches in the seventh inning, Andrew Miller breezed through a 1-2-3 eighth, and Aroldis Chapman ended the game with a flourish, striking out Robbie Grossman with a 101-mph fastball.
“You realize it’s a dangerous part of the game when you’re looking at potentially facing their bullpen with a lead the last three innings,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “You have to be cognizant of that [if] you play from behind. They’re not invincible but they’re awfully good. You take a former closer [Betances] and put him in the 7th, Miller has been lights-out, and Chapman at the end — we know that’s tough.”
The news that Glen Perkins, who had tried to work his way back to the mound for more than two months, will undergo season-ending surgery reminded me of Boof Bonser’s fate seven seasons ago.
The righthanded starter came to camp expecting to earn a long relief job, in hopes of someday returning to the Twins’ starting rotation. But Bonser complained that his shoulder didn’t feel right, even though a series of tests could locate no serious problem that might be causing his discomfort.
After a couple of weeks of trying to pitch through it, the Twins sent Bonser for arthroscopic surgery on his shoulder, in hopes that the problem was minor. Instead, doctors discovered a tear in his labrum during the surgery, and set about repairing it. The surgery ended Bonser’s season — and, it turned out, his career with the Twins.
I’m not suggesting that Perkins’ career in Minnesota is over, far from it. The former Gopher is under contract for another year, at least, and Terry Ryan sounded almost relieved that they finally have answers about his condition, and a plan to fix it.
But it’s a reminder that minor pain may have major causes, even if it’s difficult to locate sometimes.