FORT MYERS, Fla. — You wouldn’t normally describe a 14-2 game as “nerve-wracking,” but Paul Molitor did on Monday.
That’s because the Red Sox so battered the Twins’ all-reliever pitching staff, he had emptied the bullpen by the eighth inning. Caleb Thielbar was having trouble recording outs, and Molitor finally summoned Ryan O’Rourke, the lefthander brought along as an emergency pitcher.
“We were down to our last guy, which is a little nerve-wracking,” Molitor said after the Twins’ worst loss of the spring. “I hated to even bring O’Rourke in, to be honest with your. But it was the right thing to do.”
Not much was right for the Twins on Monday night at jetBlue Park, not after Blaine Boyer left the game in the second inning. Brian Duensing gave up six runs on eight hits, seven of them in a row and five for extra bases, and couldn’t get out of the fourth inning, even though he wasn’t at his pitch-count target.
Duensing had allowed a run in only one of his seven appearances this spring, so the manager said he’s willing to forget the whole thing ever happened.
“He couldn’t make pitches, he got behind. But he’s had a good spring overall. Things kind of snowballed on him,” Molitor said. “We just couldn’t get him through that inning. I’m willing to let that go by. Obviously, you don’t want to see that for anybody, but he’ll be back out there.”
The same might not be true of Thielbar, who may have become a longshot to survive the final two cuts. The veteran lefthander gave up four runs on six hits over two innings.
“It’s hard to tell from the side exactly where his location is missing, but they were getting pretty good swings on him tonight, even some of those young left-handed hitters,” Molitor said. “I’m sure he wasn’t putting it where he was trying to. So yeah, it was rough for him, too.”
It wasn’t hard on the manager, though, even though he looked exhausted once it was over. Molitor said he was determined to stay positive.
“You keep pulling for guys, acknowledge things they’re going correctly — good play, good at-bat — and you try to correct things you see,” he said. Shortstop Aderling Mejia played a grounder off to the side, and outfielder Travis Harrison threw the ball to the middle of the field instead of a base; those things were pointed out in the dugout, Molitor said. “I look [the lopsided loss] as an opportunity, rather than something that you have to suffer through.”