The trick, Jared Burton said after his Houdini escape Saturday, is never doubting.
So when the two-time defending American League MVP stepped up in the eighth inning, bases loaded and the tying run on second with one out, Burton reminded himself that Miguel Cabrera was the one at a disadvantage.
“I’ve been there before. It’s just staying confident and executing my pitches,” the Twins setup man said after a 5-3 victory over Detroit. “I know that if I do my job, I’ll get him out.”
Burton did, busting a low slider across the plate that Cabrera bounced to third baseman Eduardo Escobar. The 5-4-3 double play ended the inning, and just reinforced Burton’s confidence that his early-season problems — eight runs in his first five appearances — are behind him.
“I knew those runners represented the lead,” Burton said after a walk, a line single and Torii Hunter’s bunt single loaded the bases. “But I made a good pitch, got him to roll over on one, and got out of it.… My [command] is getting better. Compared to the last homestand, it’s 10 times better.”
Which is great news for the Twins. “We need him desperately,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “I don’t like him getting into these jams, but if he gets out of them, we’ll live with it.”
Plouffe pulled after hit
Trevor Plouffe broke up Detroit’s no-hit bid and drove in the go-ahead runs with a bases-loaded single in the fifth inning. And he was hurting at the time.
“He got it pretty good right above the elbow” by a Jose Ortega pitch in the fourth inning, Gardenhire said. “He was having some tingling in his hand. He was pretty sore.”
Plouffe had trouble flexing his arm a couple of innings later and was removed from the game. But the third baseman said he believes he will be able to play Sunday.
Pelfrey on standby
Mike Pelfrey was in the Twins bullpen Saturday, just in case there was a shortage of relievers. The Twins had gone to the ’pen 14 times over the previous three games, and Gardenhire was wary of overworking a couple of his pitchers.
But the manager said Pelfrey’s assignment was a one-day fill-in, since it was his regular day to throw. Gardenhire said he has no plans to alter his starting rotation, and Pelfrey, Ricky Nolasco and Kevin Correia all will make their next scheduled starts this week against the Dodgers.
“We’ve got our starters. We like them. But we also need results,” Gardenhire of his struggling rotation. “We think these guys are going to be OK. We’re hoping they’re going to be OK.”
Phil Hughes’ two quality starts are the only ones the Twins have received in their past nine games, so “I understand the concern,” Gardenhire said, “because we’re concerned, too. … But you’ve got to give them a little time here, you don’t want to jump the gun. These guys are here for a reason. Hopefully they’ll get rolling and we won’t have to have this conversation.”
• General Manager Terry Ryan was at Target Field for Saturday’s game, but he said he isn’t certain how many games he would attend on this homestand. Ryan completed radiation treatments for squamous-cell cancer Wednesday.
• Jonathan Hinojosa, an infielder at Class A Cedar Rapids, has been suspended for 50 games after testing positive for Nadrolone, a performance-enhancing drug, Major League Baseball announced. Hinojosa, a 21-year-old Dominican second baseman, had played only one game for the Twins’ Midwest League affiliate this year.