There were nerves.
Stephen Gonsalves, the morning of his major league debut, managed only a couple of bites of his steak and eggs.
“My stomach was a little twisted,” he said.
He felt better once he arrived at the ballpark, but the nerves returned.
“First inning, felt my back leg shaking like crazy,” he said. “It ended up working out for me in the first inning. Settled down a little bit and rolled with the punches a little bit.”
The lefthander impressed enough at Class AAA Rochester to earn a callup and make his major league debut for the Twins on Monday. But it’s hard to prepare for the brighter lights, bigger stadium and knowing you are finally a major leaguer.
So the best thing for him is that the first one is in the books. He survived a scoreless first inning but was knocked out of the game in the second of a 8-5 loss to the White Sox at Target Field. Gonsalves, the Twins’ top lefthanded pitching prospect, threw 55 pitches but got only four outs.
“That first inning, couldn’t have gone any better,” he said. “Then the second inning, the game kind of sped up on me, and got hit around a little bit. A couple unlucky balls found holes. Kept pitching and battled, but it wasn’t working out for me.”
Gonsalves, a fourth-round draft pick in 2013, was charged with four runs, all earned, on six hits and two walks with three strikeouts. Two of the hits went for extra bases, and he also hit a batter.
With about 25 family members and friends in the stands, Gonsalves stranded two runners in the first inning, but his command let him down in the second.
Nicky Delmonico led off that inning with a triple to center, bringing Matt Davidson to the plate. At one point, Gonsalves threw a fastball, slider, changeup then curve to Davidson. But the righthanded-hitting Davidson eventually hit a changeup to right for a run-scoring single.
Yolmer Sanchez walked before No. 9 hitter Kevan Smith was hit by a curveball that bounced. The fuse was lit.
Tim Anderson blooped a single to right — between three Twins fielders — off a slider to drive Chicago’s second run. Jose Abreu doubled the lead to 4-0 by hitting a 2-0 changeup just inside the third-base line for a two-run double. Gonsalves walked former minor league teammate Daniel Palka on four pitches, and that was the end of his debut.
“I threw a 2-0 [changeup] to Abreu that he pulled down the third-base line for that double,” Gonsalves said. “So it was in the strike zone, it was just a little up today.”
The Twins tried chipping away, getting an RBI double from Tyler Austin in the bottom of the inning to make it 4-1 and a two-run homer from Jake Cave two innings later to get within 5-3. But Davidson hit a two-run homer — just out of center fielder Max Kepler’s reach — off Trevor May in the seventh inning and Palka added an RBI double off Addison Reed in the eighth. Max Kepler homered in a two-run ninth for the Twins, who ended their seven-game homestand 5-2.
Gonsalves will get another start, so the Twins will see if he how he responds.
“I’m sure he’s going to learn from it,” manager Paul Molitor said. “I have a lot of confidence in that. We’ll move forward. That’s what I told him. He came in and I’m sure he was a little bit upset with himself, but that’s how you learn. That’s hopefully how you get better.”