ST. PETERSBURG, FLA. – Ricky Nolasco has had only one start out of five in which he has resembled the pitcher the Twins wanted in free agency. And Thursday was not that start.
Battling some command issues, Nolasco gave up six earned runs over six-plus innings in the Twins’ 9-7 victory over Tampa Bay. Not everything was his fault. Especially in the seventh inning, when Yunel Escobar’s short fly to right popped out of second baseman Brian Dozier’s glove and was followed by a grounder by Jose Molina that ticked off shortstop Pedro Florimon’s glove. Both plays were ruled hits but should have been made, and both runners later scored.
“Look at the line,” Nolasco said. “It’s a lot worse than it should be. It’s unbelievable, but there’s nothing I can do.”
Still, Nolasco won, making him the first Twins pitcher to win a game despite giving up at least six runs since Scott Baker did it July 6, 2007. Nolasco (2-2), who saw his ERA rise to 6.67, just hasn’t been consistent enough to pitch deep into games in most of his starts.
“He did not have the best outing he would have liked,” catcher Kurt Suzuki said, “but he’s a gamer. He knows how to get people out. He didn’t have his best stuff, but to pitch into the seventh was huge for us.”
Gardenhire will coach in All-Star Game
The official announcement won’t come for several more weeks, but look for Twins manager Ron Gardenhire to be named to the American League coaching staff for the July 15 All-Star Game at Target Field.
The manager of the team in the host city usually ends up on the All-Star coaching staff, so it’s not a shocker.
Boston manager John Farrell, who will guide the AL team, approached Gardenhire during the winter meetings about coaching in the game. And Gardenhire told Farrell he would be pleased to be part of the staff.
Twins claim outfielder
The Twins claimed speedy outfielder Kenny Wilson from Toronto and assigned him to Class AA New Britain.
Wilson, 24, has not played above Class AA in his seven-year professional career. He is a career .228 hitter with 196 stolen bases. The Blue Jays drafted him out of high school in the second round in 2008.
The Blue Jays designated Wilson for assignment Tuesday when they needed to make room on their 40-man roster for Darin Mastroianni, whom they claimed from the Twins.
Wilson, a righthanded hitter, was added to the Twins’ 40-man roster, which is now full.
Meyer’s big game
Class AAA Rochester righthander Alex Meyer has taken a step toward being the complete pitcher he needs to be in order to be called up to the majors.
Meyer, the top pitching prospect in the Twins organization, threw 6⅔ shutout innings Wednesday against Pawtucket, giving up three hits and three walks with 11 strikeouts.
“I thought that was very encouraging,” said Rob Antony, Twins assistant general manager.
The most important number might have been 15 — the number of changeups Meyer threw. The Twins have been on him to throw more changeups, but he wasn’t happy with the quality of them, so he wouldn’t throw any, even when they asked him to during spring training. But he changed his grip on the pitch earlier this month and has gained a lot of confidence in it.
“We talked about that,” Antony said. “We told him, ‘Too many guys are getting good swings off your 98-mile-an-hour fastball.’ That’s the difference between being a good major league pitcher and really good major league pitcher. He has the fastball and he has a breaking ball. Now if you can change speeds and slow it down, he’s got all the pitches to be successful.”
New name, old face
Righthander Juan Carlos Oviedo, the former Leo Nunez, pitched 1⅓ innings of relief Thursday for the Rays, his first major league action since Sept. 21, 2011. He has been delayed by his identity fraud case and Tommy John elbow surgery.