DETROIT – Derek Law received the quintessential "Welcome to the team!" gift from his compatriots in the Twins bullpen Saturday.
For his debut in a Minnesota uniform, he inherited from Tyler Duffey a bases-loaded situation deep into a never-ending seventh inning with Detroit already ahead by one run.
With teammates like that, well, it's no wonder Law's first Twins' outing quickly sank to the level of the rest of the drowning relievers.
The Twins lost 7-3 at Comerica Park, with faulty bullpen work all around leveling the series with the Tigers at 1-1. The Twins fell to 12-20 while Detroit — the only team in the American League with a worse record than the Twins — improved to 10-24.
On Law's fourth pitch, Niko Goodrum smacked a two-run single to center field. It only got worse from there for the Twins, who faced 11 batters via two relievers and gave up five hits and five runs in that seventh inning.
"When we're already in a tough spot, and we get down, we're going to be having to rely on Derek Law and some other guys to go out there and pitch," manager Rocco Baldelli said. "… Obviously when we're not playing as well as we want to, we're losing some games, it makes you want to bring in your good guys every opportunity that you get, your high-leverage guys, the guys that pitch in those spots late in the game all the time.
"But we do need our other guys to step up in some of those tight situations."
Baldelli was in a bit of a bind, as he relies heavily on the likes of Taylor Rogers and Hansel Robles, who often pitch in consecutive games. Duffey was the logical choice Saturday following starter Jose Berrios.
"It was a rough outing for Duff all the way around," Baldelli said. "I don't think he had the stuff that he's had in some outings recently. ... He was not sharp."
Former Twins outfielder Robbie Grossman homered on Berrios' third pitch of the game, and Niko Goodrum hit an RBI double off Berrios in the fourth.
The seventh was the game-breaker. Berrios came out after clawing his way through six innings, allowing six hits, two earned runs and five walks, striking out only the final batter he faced. Duffey undid all Berrios' work, giving up three hits, four earned runs and a walk in two-thirds of an inning.
The damages against Law in 1⅓ innings were three hits, one earned run and three walks.
Last year, the Twins bullpen's ERA was 3.62, good for fourth in the AL. This season, it has plummeted to 4.92, ranking 12th.
The offense didn't help much Saturday. The Twins left 16 runners on base and were 1-for-14 with runners in scoring position. Josh Donaldson hit a two-run homer that tied the score in the fifth.
Berrios said it can make a pitcher's job more stressful when the offense can't secure any lead. But he considered Saturday's performance more of a fluke than a pattern.
"One thing I know: Our team can hit," Berrios said. "So sooner [or later], they're going to start hitting like the way they can, and then those games are going to be more easy for me.
"But right now, we are where we are."