ANAHEIM, CALIF. – The Twins might be forced to accept life with Samuel Deduno the way it is.
He’s going to have runners on the base paths. There are going to be one or two (or four) hard-hit balls. Pitching coach Rick Anderson will get his workout in taking trips to the mound to recalibrate the gifted righthander.
But it seems that, more often than not, Deduno will figure out a way to finish with a solid outing.
Such was the case on Monday when Deduno appeared ready to step on a few land mines but somehow straightened himself out to help the Twins win 4-3. It wasn’t pretty, but enough to start the Twins’ seven-game road trip the right way.
Clete Thomas drove in two runs with a double and his fourth homer of the season, then kept the Twins in front by robbing Chris Iannetta of a home run with two runners on in the eighth.
Glen Perkins pitched the final 1⅓ innings, striking out Albert Pujols and Howie Kendrick to end the game, to pick up his 24th save. It was his first save of more than three outs this season.
"We said we were going to do these things," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Bring Perk in, let them make their moves and go from there. He's our best pitcher. Perk got it done."
Catcher Joe Mauer had to visit the mound in the first inning after Deduno walked the first two batters he faced, but he limited the damage to a sacrifice fly by Howie Kendrick. A leadoff double by Erick Aybar in the third — the first Angels hit of the game — came back to haunt Deduno as Aybar scored on a Mike Trout single. Deduno walked a season-high five batters for the game and gave up three hits over his first six innings, but kept crooked numbers off the scoreboard.
When he wasn’t missing the plate, he was getting swings and misses or balls beaten into the ground. His curveball might have been the best it’s been all season, as good as it was during the Word Baseball Classic when he starred for the Dominican Republic. And his fastball had movement. He retired eight of 10 batters to get through the sixth — despite having one pitch in the sixth get away from him and go sailing over Mark Trumbo’s head.
``A lot of good things happened out there,'' Gardenhire said. "Perk finished up. Sammy was unbelievable. That’s a very tough team over there that can do something with a bat.’’
Where Deduno was shaky, Angels righthander Joe Blanton was awful, which was the difference in the game.
Blanton entered Monday 2-12 with a 5.53 ERA and no movement. The Twins jumped on him in the second on RBI doubles by Thomas and Aaron Hicks, giving the Twins a 2-1 lead. Trout’s RBI single tied the score in the third but Blanton gave the lead right back in the fourth when he served up a gopher ball to Thomas then proceeded to allow the next five Twins batters to reach base. Doug Bernier, just called up last week, came through with an RBI double to make it 4-2.
"You have to have it all the way up and down the lineup," Gardenhire said. "You have to be able to put some swings on some balls. And we did. ... The only way for us to be successful is for everyone to be part of it."
Deduno took the mound for the seventh and gave up a leadoff triple to Hank Conger — well, Conger got a triple as Ryan Doumit struggled to come up with the ball in right. Deduno didn’t back down. He struck out Aybar swinging. Deduno then bit down on the chain around his neck as he struck out J.B. Shuck for the second out. It was like the chain was a bridle and he was reeling himself in. Deduno then got Trout to ground out to end the inning. Deduno got through seven innings, which has been a challenge for Twins pitchers this season.
``We got pictures of it,'' Gardenhire said about Deduno biting his necklace. "We were all watching it. Everyone was giving him grief about it. That's the way it is. We said he does a lot of crazy things.''
Hicks makes self at home
Aaron Hicks slept in his own bed Sunday night.
“It felt awesome to wake up and not have someone trying to get into my room to clean it,” Hicks said.
Hicks is from nearby Long Beach and was able to do as the locals do Monday before he headed to the park. He had a breakfast burrito in the morning, then hit the legendary In-N-Out Burger before heading to the park.
He was the target of local media before the game. He grew up a big Angels fan and rooted for them in the 2002 ALCS when they turned back the Twins. Now he gets to face the team he cheered for. He said his ticket list for Monday’s game was “more than 30,” with more friends paying their own way to the game.
Bernier gets a start
Infielder Doug Bernier played in a couple of spring training games this season, so Twins manager Ron Gardenhire knew a little bit about him. But he did give Class AAA Rochester manager Gene Glynn a call for more background.
The Twins decided to give Pedro Florimon a break Monday and handed Bernier a start at shortstop. It was only the fourth major league game and second start for Bernier, a 33-year-old rookie.
“Quick hands, really sound baseball player. Kinda like Jamey Carroll,” Gardenhire said.
Gardenhire said Carroll probably would get a start Tuesday against the Angels.