Pedro Hernandez got a little timely coaching that helped him survive the most dangerous inning of his start Sunday. From himself.
The 24-year-old lefthander, one of many potential candidates for a spot in the Twins rotation next year, was in trouble in the fifth inning, trailing 3-0 with runners at second and third and Wil Myers at the plate. The Rays rookie outfielder had hit a titanic upper-deck blast off Hernandez an inning earlier, so manager Ron Gardenhire reluctantly signaled for an intentional walk to load the bases.
“You just hate putting people on, because now you force the pitcher to throw the ball over, but you have to do those things sometimes. That kid Myers is really swinging the bat really good right now, so you don’t want him to kill you there,” Gardenhire said. “And I wanted to give Hernandez a chance to at least get through that inning.”
That brought former Twin Delmon Young to the plate, however, a righthanded hitter with power. Hernandez gave himself a mental pep talk.
“I felt confident. A voice in my mind said, ‘Let’s go, it’s time to fight right now,’ ” Hernandez said. “I throw a really good pitch to him and [right fielder Ryan] Doumit made a really good play. So he saved my inning.”
Young’s long fly ball ended Hernandez’s day, a decent outing as he auditions for next year; he cruised through three innings without a hit, then gave up homers to Myers and Sean Rodriguez as his pitch count mounted.
Hernandez had one other notable incident, however; at one point, plate umpire Alan Porter began gesturing at Hernandez and yelling at him.
“I think [Hernandez] showed some emotion — a where-was-that-pitch type thing — and Alan came out from behind the plate. And I just wanted to make sure we calmed everything down,” Gardenhire said. “I don’t want an umpire yelling at one of my players, and I don’t want my players showing up an umpire, either.”
Hernandez said he didn’t understand what Porter was yelling, or why.
“I don’t do anything. I guess my face” bothered him, meaning his expressions, the pitcher said. “The strike zone for him [was] really close.”
Mauer works out
Joe Mauer worked out at Target Field again Sunday but did not join his teammates on their flight to Chicago. But Gardenhire repeated his hope that “he could still come and join us” when the Twins move on to Oakland for the weekend.
If not, only seven games will remain in the season. Is there any benefit to having Mauer play the final week, after missing five weeks because of a concussion?
“If he’s healthy, yeah,” Gardenhire insisted. “He’s a baseball player. If this thing clears up, it’d be great if he could take a few at-bats. I think Joe would like nothing better than that.”
• Gene Glynn, manager of Class AAA Rochester, joined the Twins for the final two weeks of the season. He was greeted warmly by more than a dozen of his former players when he walked into the Twins’ clubhouse Sunday. Glynn replaces Cedar Rapids hitting coach Tommy Watkins, who served as the team’s extra coach while the Red Wings were in the International League playoffs.
• Josmil Pinto’s game-winning home run didn’t surprise Chris Parmelee, who has been the Venezuelan catcher’s teammate at Rochester and Minnesota. “He goes up there with no fear, swinging the bat hard,” Parmelee said. “He has excellent hand-eye coordination, so he’s able to swing the bat hard and still make good contact. More power to you, if you can do that.”