SAN FRANCISCO – It’s such a great story when a former 50th-round draft pick makes it to the majors and then lifts his team to victory. It happened Sunday, but not the way the Twins hoped.
Buster Posey, a 50th-rounder by the Angels in 2005 (he didn’t sign, and was taken fifth overall three years later), doubled home the tying and go-ahead runs in the Twins’ 13-8 loss to San Francisco.
Meanwhile, another 50th-rounder, lefthander Nik Turley — drafted with the 1,503rd pick by the Yankees in 2008 — gave up four runs in four-plus innings, one of the most memorable — and instructional — days of his life.
“I’ve been waiting to do that for a long time. You dream of that,” Turley said of stepping on a major league mound for the first time. But he kept falling behind hitters, “and that’s the whole game. … If hitters know a fastball is coming, they’re going to hit it.”
They hit it hard, too, eight hits in all, five of them doubles. But Twins manager Paul Molitor, saw promising signs.
“His breaking ball was as advertised. I don’t think they squared up one all day when he got it in the zone,” Molitor said. “It’s a different game. The hitters, they just keep coming. And sometimes your understanding about pitching ahead [in the count] gets a little better understood when you pay the price” for not doing it.
Turley’s big day didn’t start particularly well, with a single by Kelby Tomlinson. Eduardo Nunez followed with a double, and both runners eventually came home.
Turley, 27, started the fourth inning with a double, single and another double, but he retired the next three hitters and held the Giants to only one run. “He did a nice job of minimizing the trouble there,” Molitor said.
Turley is almost certain to get another start for the Twins, likely Friday against Cleveland.
With the Twins headed back to their home park and the DH rule, Molitor will be able to juggle his four outfielders a little less than he did here. But the constantly shifting lineups aren’t going away, and the manager said he has been getting some pushback from some players who don’t like sitting out.
“I have. They all want to play, and when I talk to them, I [tell them] I’m glad for that,” Molitor said. “I need to have them understand our thinking. Sometimes they might be looking at it just through their window. But if I was a guy who thinks I should play every day and I missed a couple of games, it would get my attention.”
In the Twins’ past 20 games, Max Kepler has sat out once, Byron Buxton and Robbie Grossman four times and Eddie Rosario five. So Molitor is trying to pay attention to their morale.
“I’m not always proactive. I try to be, but sometimes you miss some of those and you don’t even realize it’s needed,” Molitor said. “I watch body language during batting practice or in the batting cage. I talk to coaches. I get a good feeling for it that way.”
So far, it hasn’t been a problem, he said. “It helps that we’re winning — well, for some of them,” he said.
• Shortstop Jorge Polanco will rejoin the Twins on Monday after missing six games to attend the funeral of his grandfather in the Dominican Republic. A player will be removed from the roster, but Molitor wasn’t ready to say who it would be. Kennys Vargas was Polanco’s replacement, but he doesn’t have to be the player removed.
• Righthander Chris Heston also made his Twins debut, replacing Turley in the fifth inning and giving up an RBI single to Posey, his former Giants batterymate.
• To make room for Hurley on the 40-man roster, the Twins designated Class AAA Rochester righthander Drew Rucinski for assignment.