Colabello stays hot to help Twins top Rays 6-4 in extra innings

  • Article by: LA VELLE E. NEAL III , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 24, 2014 - 6:56 AM

Slugger homers and drives in winning runs vs. Rays with parents in stands.

– Lou and Silvana Colabello traveled from Milford, Mass., — an hour outside of Boston — to watch their son Chris play on Wednesday. It just happened to be Silvana’s birthday.

“Seems like every time I play on her birthday something crazy happens,” Chris Colabello said. “All the way back to high school and college.”

Know what’s crazy? That Colabello, who seemed to be overmatched last season as an Independent League veteran turned major league rookie, has torn up the league during the first month of the season. And he’s about to take down a Twins legend in the record books.

Colabello opened and closed the Twins’ scoring on Wednesday, cranking a two-run home run in the second then a two-run single in the 12th in their 6-4 victory over the Rays at Tropicana Field. With four RBI on Wednesday, Colabello has 26 on the season — tying him with Kirby Puckett for the club record for RBI in the first month of the season (including March).

“That’s a pretty cool name to be associated with,” Colabello said. “I’m not going to forget that one.”

And it looks like that record is going down: The Twins have six more games left this month.

“That’s pretty special for a guy who, as he put it, tells us he’s played in a beer league” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.

His two-run homer in the fourth tied the score at 2-2, and that was an amazing moment in itself. Fox Sports North’s Marney Gellner was interviewing Silvana Colabello as Chris batted and was able to catch her reaction as her son crushed a 1-0 pitch from Jake Odorizzi over the center field wall for his third homer of the season.

“That’s a pretty cool moment,” Chris Colabello said.

Joe Mauer reached on an infield hit to open the 12th, then Trevor Plouffe lined a double into the left field corner to put runners on second and third for Colabello. He battled with Josh Lueke before he hit a single up the middle, driving in both runners. Glen Perkins pitched a 1-2-3 inning for his fourth save.

It wrapped up a back-and-forth game that taxed both bullpens but gave the Twins relievers a chance to show why they are a team strength. Michael Tonkin, Caleb Thielbar, Anthony Swarzak, Brian Duensing, Casey Fien and Perkins combined for seven shutout innings.

“Guys came in and made some really big pitches to get out of it,” Gardenhire said.

Righthander Mike Pelfrey, who needed a good outing, was decent, going five-plus innings, giving up four runs, three earned, on six hits and three walks with one strikeout. But he was handed a 4-2 lead in the fourth and ended up giving it back. He got nine groundouts but needed 92 pitches to get into the sixth inning. He didn’t give up a home run for the first time in four outings, but he walked three, and he’s walked at least three batters in every outing this season.

The Rays got an infield single from Evan Longoria in the fifth to make it 4-3, then a sacrifice fly from Ben Zobrist in the sixth to tie the score. The Twins bullpen held firm, and Colabello was able to be a hero to his teammates and a good son to his mother, giving her a nice birthday present.

“I’m going to have to think it’s her birthday every day,” Colabello joked.

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