The game was dull, but surely these postgame notes won’t be. Right?
Pat Dean was obviously disappointed to be demoted back to Rochester after the game; after all, the Twins had won four of his five starts before Friday. And few players seemed as thrilled by his surroundings as the 27-year-old righthander.
But Dean looked like he belongs, with a few adjustments, his manager said after delivering the bad news, and he gave the rookie a blueprint for earning his way back to Target Field.
“There are some glimpses there,” Molitor said. “For the most part, he went after hitters. He’s the kind of guy who does pitch to corners, and tonight [there were] too many times where he missed. One thing that you notice, even in the first inning today, he needs the changeup there. He needs to refine that pitch a little bit, and trust his curveball too, because his fastball and cutter are pretty much on the same plane. If he can change eye levels a little bit with the curveball, and use that changeup a little more, it will help him.”
Dean agreed with the advice — he just wishes he had heeded it a few hours earlier.
“Not too many changes and curves. Looking back, I wish I had used them more,” Dean said. “Hindsight’s 20/20, but I definitely will keep working on things. Hopefully I’ll be able to build on the things I’ve learned and get back up here.”
Tommy Milone has been one of the best pitchers in Triple-A baseball over the past month, and had more than earned a return ticket to Minneapolis, particularly considering the results the Twins have been getting lately. His success makes you wonder if other teams regret not claiming him off waivers when they had a chance last month, presumably scared away by his $4.5 million salary.
Rather than pout over his demotion on May 7, Milone has set about racking up scoreless innings in the International League, and lots of them. In seven starts for the Red Wings, the veteran lefthander never allowed more than two earned runs, never failed to pitch into the sixth inning, and capped off his run with a seven-inning shutout performance on Tuesday.
He has 41 strikeouts in 48 innings against Triple-A hitters, and only four walks.
Milone will be in the bullpen this weekend, in case starters Ricky Nolasco or Ervin Santana falter. If he has to pitch, the Twins will use Monday’s off day to skip Dean’s old spot in the rotation next Thursday. If not, he could pitch as soon as Tuesday against the Phillies.
Molitor had to search for positives on a night when the deficit was big right away, and the offense was silenced by Masahiro Tanaka. He found a couple, starting with the bullpen, which allowed only one run in 6 2/3 innings. Taylor Rogers pitched two scoreless innings, Kevin Jepsen needed only 10 pitches to retire the side, and Buddy Boshers needed just eight.
Then there was Eduardo Escobar, who has started only five games in June. He just missed a second-inning homer, settling for a double, then singled in the fourth and smashed his first home run of the season in the ninth off reliever Nick Goody.
And Joe Mauer reached base for the 28th consecutive game, equaling his season-opening streak. It took until the eighth inning for Mauer to do it, but he finally singled into short left field off Tanaka.
“It didn’t look like he was getting a good look at [Tanaka], but he found a way to get a hit,” Molitor said.