There must have been a mix-up when the calendar turned from April to May, because Twins pitchers spent Thursday issuing walks during a doubleheader loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Twins dropped the first game 9-4, walking Dodgers hitters six times. Righthander Mike Pelfrey lasted only four innings and might have pitched himself out of the starting rotation. Still, that was nothing compared to the free passes handed out in the second game. The Twins lost 4-3 in 12 innings and walked 12 batters, tying a club record. The game was played in 5 hours, 11 minutes, the longest game in Target Field history.
Two games. Nothing to show for it but worn-out pitchers.
“This ends a day, a long frustrating day,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “Not getting a win out of one of these two.”
What’s amazing about Game 2 is that none of the 12 walks scored. No direct damage? Think again.
In addition to the long, fruitless day, every Twins reliever pitched in one of the two games. Lefthander Brian Duensing threw 20 pitches Wednesday night and came back to throw 45 pitches over 2⅔ innings in Game 2 Thursday. It showed in the end, as Scott Van Slyke led off the 12th inning with a home run into the bullpen in left-center and former Twins batterymate Drew Butera followed three batters later with a blast into the left-field stands.
The Twins loaded the bases off closer Kenley Jansen with nobody out in the bottom of the inning. Joe Mauer hit a sacrifice fly to make it 4-3, but with runners on second and third, Chris Colabello lined out to first to end the game.
After the game, the clubhouse was closed longer than normal as the Twins made a call to see who was available to be called up from the minor leagues to prop up the bullpen for the short term.
“We’re working on that process too,” Gardenhire said. “We’ve been on the phone talking, trying to figure out what we needed to do. The biggest way to protect ourselves is for Mr. [Ricky] Nolasco goes deep in the game [Friday against Baltimore]. We don’t have any pitchers available for the bullpen tomorrow.”
They also might need an outfielder, as Aaron Hicks left because of concussion-like symptoms after crashing into the wall in the seventh inning trying to catch Van Slyke’s triple. Hicks took some tests Thursday and will undergo more Friday. The Twins could activate Oswaldo Arcia from the disabled list. He is batting .364 through four rehabilitation games at Class AAA Rochester, although Gardenhire expressed a preference to let Arcia get more at-bats.
One player going back to Rochester will be lefthander Kris Johnson, called up Thursday to start the second game. He left with the Twins ahead 1-0, but he didn’t complete five innings. He stranded runners in every inning he pitched in, giving up four hits and a whopping six walks while striking out five.
The Twins tried to hold that 1-0 lead, but Juan Uribe hit an RBI single to score Van Slyke after his triple. They were gifted a run in the bottom of the inning when Trevor Plouffe scored as reliever Brandon League fielded a tapper near the mound but threw wildly to first.
That lead didn’t last long, as Adrian Gonzalez led off the seventh with a 413-foot home run into the bullpen in left-center. Then came extra innings. The 12 walks by the Twins were the most since they walked 12 on April 29, 1988, at Boston.
While Johnson made his first start with the Twins, there were questions about when, or if, his college teammate Pelfrey would make his next start.
The Dodgers pulled away to a 9-4 victory in the afternoon, collecting 15 hits — seven off Pelfrey.
The Twins gave him a 2-0 lead in the first inning, but that cushion evaporated as he fell behind hitter after hitter. The Dodgers scored three runs in the second, on an RBI single by Dee Brown and a two-run double by Yasiel Puig. Los Angeles added two more runs in the third. Pelfrey labored throughout his outing, and his fastball, which can hit 93-94 miles an hour on the gun, was coming in at 88-90. Pelfrey got through four innings before being replaced by Samuel Deduno.
“At the end of the day, if I don’t perform they will find someone else,” said Pelfrey, who is 0-3 with a 7.99 ERA.