Twins reliever Trevor Hildenberger is, outing by outing, distancing himself from a rough stretch in which he gave up home runs in four consecutive appearances.
He avenged one of those home runs Sunday when he struck out Niko Goodrum to close out a 5-4 victory over the Tigers. Goodrum, a former second-round pick of the Twins, has been killing his former team, batting .293 with five home runs and 11 RBI in 13 games this season. One of those home runs came off of a Hildenberger changeup Aug. 11 in Detroit. Hildenberger held on for the save that night, but the sidearmer wondered if he was tipping his pitches after giving up another homer.
On Sunday, Hildenberger faced Goodrum with two on and two outs but got Goodrum to swing and miss his changeup to end the game. Hildenberger fired three consecutive fastballs before finishing Goodrum off with the change. In Detroit, Hildenberger threw one fastball before going to his changeup and paying the price.
Some observers have noted that Hildenberger will throw a fastball before immediately going back to the change.
“Hopefully some adjustments I have made had added to that factor and it is not just dumb luck,” Hildenberger said. “It’s kind of funny that it come down to him, and I was able to get him out. I’m sure I’ll get to face him again before the end of the year, before the end of our careers. We’ll see how it goes from there, but I was happy with that result.”
Hildenberger has been working on staying one step ahead of hitters. He occasionally will throw a fastball with a more conventional over-the-top delivery — able to hit 93 miles per hour on the gun. He is tinkering with a changeup from that angle as well, so hitters won’t assume a fastball is coming. He has thrown it a handful of times so far, as it’s hard to tinker with a new pitch with the game on the line.
“We’ll see how much I use it from here on out,” Hildenberger said. “It’s really got to be the right time to set up with my overhand fastball. We’re really trying to pick our spots with it.”
Since Fernando Rodney was traded to Oakland on Aug. 9, manager Paul Molitor has not named a new closer, keeping his options open for the final innings of games. But Hildenberger has finished the past five games he has appeared in, going 1-1 with three saves.
“It’s not like he’s our closer per se, but if he’s available and those outs are on the line, if you can put him in there you feel pretty good,” Molitor said.
White Sox manager Rick Renteria missed the start of Monday’s game.
Renteria felt lightheaded and dizzy during the afternoon and was taken out of Target Field on a stretcher to an ambulance that whisked him to Hennepin County Medical Center as a precaution.
A White Sox spokesman said Renteria was feeling better by gametime, but after the game the team said he was being kept at HCMC overnight. Bench coach Joe McEwing ran the team in Renteria’s absence.
Twins designated hitter Logan Morrison had surgery Monday to repair a torn labrum in his left hip, which was causing the impingement that has been bothering him most of the season. He also had a bone spur removed from the area.
He will need time to recover before starting a rehab program. Morrison, who batted .186 with 15 homers and 39 RBI, will miss the remainder of the season.
Righthander Ervin Santana, who landed on the DL Sunday because of soreness in his surgically repaired middle finger, will be examined Tuesday by Twins hand specialist Dr. Tom Varecka.
• Twins second baseman Logan Forsythe was not in the starting lineup, as Molitor wanted to give him a break. Forsythe was 0-for-12 with a walk since going 5-for-5 on Thursday.
• After missing Sunday’s game because of illness, Twins third base coach Gene Glynn returned to his post Monday.