Three extras from a disappointing night for the Twins:
Kevin Jepsen made his first appearance since being removed from the closer’s role on Friday, and while it might not have looked like it for awhile, there is hope among the Twins that it represented progress toward recovering his lost effectiveness.
Jepsen entered the game with one out in the sixth inning, in relief of Tyler Duffey, and he quickly surrendered a double to Dustin Pedroia and a single to Xander Bogaerts, allowing two of Duffey’s runners to score. But Jepsen got out of the inning when David Ortiz flew out to right.
“I thought it was a good time to get him the game,” Molitor said. “You’ve got to try to find a way to work through whatever issues you’re trying to deal with.”
Jepsen came out for another inning, too, something he hadn’t done since last September. He immediately walked Hanley Ramirez on four pitches, and manager Paul Molitor must have been fearing the worst. But then he struck out Jackie Bradley on seven pitches, the last one a curve in the dirt, and he struck out Travis Shaw on three. The inning ended with a Chris Young popup, stranding Ramirez on first.
“He got into a little bit of rhythm in the seventh inning to get the last three men retired,” Molitor said. “I’m just trying to get him out there in situations where he can concentrate on using all his pitches and not feel like one pitch is going to cost us the game. Alleviate some of that burden. Hopefully, that seventh inning is something he can build on.”
Yes, it’s just about the lowest possible bar to clear for “progress,” considering Jepsen faced eight batters and retired five. But in the crash-and-burn season he’s had so far -- his ERA has finally dipped below 6.0 again -- well, you have to start somewhere. And he did, after all, end a particularly ugly streak in that seventh inning: Jepsen had allowed at least one hit in 17 consecutive innings in which he had appeared.
Speaking of closers, the Twins’ main closer, Glen Perkins, may have had a setback on Friday. He threw another bullpen session, and had been expected to be sent on a rehab assignment sometime soon. But Molitor hinted after Friday’s game that it didn’t go well, and that the plans had changed, though he did not elaborate.
“I don’t think it was a great day for him in terms of progress,” Molitor said. “We’re going to reconsider where he’s at.” Perkins has not pitched since April 10 after suffering a strain in his pitching shoulder.
Michael Tonkin got hit hard on Friday — literally. The righthander, pitching to Mookie Betts in the eighth inning, took a line drive off his right thigh, a ball that bounced halfway to third base after striking him. Tonkin immediately waved off Molitor and the training staff, but they rushed out anyway to check on him. The righthander insisted he stay in the game, and even threw a couple of pitches to prove that he was OK.
It was the second straight night a Twins reliever had been hit by a hot smash; Phil Hughes took a ball off his left knee on Thursday, and went on the disabled list a day later because of it.
Tonkin not only won’t go on the DL, he went back out and pitched another inning. And while Boston strung together two singles and Jackie Bradley Jr.’s two-run triple off him, but Molitor said he was grateful to the third-year reliever for his work.
“You hate to push a guy, but he wanted to stay in the game. I was a little concerned about stiffening up between innings, but he went out there and gave us 50-plus pitches so I could save a couple people,” Molitor said. “[I have] a lot of respect for him going out there and giving me the last six outs.”
J.T. Chargois’ locker sat empty and unused in the clubhouse postgame. The rookie reliever missed the first game he had ever been on a major-league roster, all because of a travel nightmare.
Chargois’ flight out of Rochester was scheduled for 6 a.m., according to teammate Tyler Duffey, but missed connections and a cancelled flight evidently caused him to arrive in Minneapolis shortly before the game ended. Chargois, who will wear No. 60, will likely make his MLB debut this weekend.