Paul Molitor had a tough decision to make after six innings. He believes he made the right call — but it didn’t work out.
Bartolo Colon had allowed only two solo home runs over six innings, and had thrown just 78 pitches. He had given up some long, loud outs, but that is “kind of the way he does it,” the Twins manager said. “Sometimes it’s going to be fly balls that might scare you a little bit, and he’s going to give up some homers, too. That’s just how it works.”
Kevin Pillar was due up first in the seventh, followed by Russell Martin, and they both had hit Colon hard in their previous at-bat, Pillar with a homer five rows deep into the left field bleachers, and Martin with a double off the right field wall. Both were righthanders, though, and while Pillar was a career 6-for-10 against Colon, Martin was 2-for-9.
The primary relievers in the Twins bullpen had been used a lot during back-to-back extra-inning games, so not everybody — Taylor Rogers and Trevor Hildenberger chief among them — was available on Friday. So Molitor chose to stick with Colon for a seventh inning.
“Pillar’s been a tough matchup for him, I get that. But we were short a few guys tonight,” Molitor said. “I just thought that his history with Martin [helped], and I thought [Colon] was a better option for a potential ground ball.”
But Colon committed one of Molitor’s biggest pet peeves: A leadoff walk. It took only four pitches, too, and Colon then fell behind Martin 2-1 before attempting to get the Jays catcher to swing under a fastball just above the strike zone. Instead, Russell reached up and cracked the pitch over Eddie Rosario’s head in left field, ending Colon’s night with a game-tying double.
“I had reasons for thinking [Colon] still was our best chance, but he just couldn't get the ball down on Martin,” Molitor said. “The double, that was a big hit.”
Molitor said he was concerned on Thursday after Teoscar Hernandez accidentally hit catcher Jason Castro on the back of his helmet with his bat.
“I think it stunned him more than anything. You’re not anticipating that whack on the back of the head too often,” the manager said. But Castro apparently survived the blow with no damage; he was out of the Twins’ lineup on Friday, but it was a regularly scheduled day off, Molitor said.
“I checked with him every inning the rest of the game, and today he said he was good to go,” Molitor said.
Jose Berrios became a father for the third time on Friday, when his wife Jannieliz gave birth to Diego Jose Berrios. The couple also have a 3-year-old daughter, Valentina, and a 13-month-old son, Sebastian.