ANAHEIM, CALIF. – Before entering in the seventh inning Monday night vs. the Angels, Taylor Rogers had faced 18 batters in May. That’s a light load for any pitcher, but for arguably the Twins’ most consistent reliever, it’s an unusually high number of days off. Rogers didn’t pitch at all during the Twins’ four games at Seattle.
“It’s a little bit weird, I guess, but you kind of know that when you’re in the bullpen, you just can’t predict when you’ll be needed,” said the 28-year-old lefthander, whose 1.35 ERA comes with 27 strikeouts in 20 innings. “You get a lot of work, then it slows down. You just have to be ready.”
Rogers showed some signs of rust Monday. Coming in with a 1-0 lead, a runner on first and one out, he walked pinch hitter Albert Pujols, then fell behind 2-0 to No. 9 hitter David Fletcher, prompting a visit from pitching coach Wes Johnson.
Rogers recovered to retire Fletcher, but he then gave up a game-tying single to lefthanded-hitting Tommy La Stella, who is 12-for-19 in four games against the Twins this month. Rogers struck out Mike Trout to escape with no further damage, then pitched a 1-2-3 eighth — a costly inning for the Angels, as both Shohei Ohtani and Andrelton Simmons had to leave because of injuries.
Miguel Sano's two-run homer in the top of the eighth turned Rogers into the winning pitcher despite the blown save, his first of the season.
Over the course of 162 games, Baldelli said, there’s a payoff to keeping a team’s best pitchers well-rested. It’s possible, he said, to give a pitcher too much rest, but “we haven’t run into too many situations like that.”
Rogers said he threw 15 live-velocity pitches in the bullpen Sunday, “just to make sure everything feels right.” But he’s a believer that the light load in May isn’t a bad thing, because he intends to pitch farther into the season than ever before.
“Basically, we have playoff aspirations. I want to be pitching in October, and that’s a long time from now,” he said. “So what you do now is in preparation for that. You obviously need to stay in game shape, but a few days off here and there, to keep you from getting taxed, I don’t think it’s a bad thing for anybody.”
Down on the farm
The Twins expect to get two of their top prospects back in action when Class AAA Rochester opens a weeklong homestand Tuesday.
Lefthander Stephen Gonsalves, who has yet to pitch this season because of a sore forearm he developed during spring training, is expected to be activated from the injured list. So too is infielder Nick Gordon, the Twins’ 2014 No. 1 pick, who has missed the last week because of a strained thigh. Gordon, whose season started a month late because of acute gastritis, is batting .353 in eight games with the Red Wings.