Some additional tidbits from a disappointing loss for the Twins on Thursday, their eighth in 10 games against Detroit:
After looking like a longtime veteran during his first week in the majors, Miguel Sano looked like … well, like most veterans sometimes do against David Price. That was Paul Molitor’s point on Thursday, that Sano’s three-strikeout night had more to do with the Tigers’ ace than his own rookie status.
“It’s not like all the other guys did exceptionally well. He’s been doing a really good job of recognizing off-speed pitches and using the whole field,” Molitor said of his rookie cleanup hitter. “He hit a bullet to center field the one time he got a pitch he could handle, but [Price’s] changeup, he just couldn’t stay back far enough. Every time he went to swing, it disappeared on him.”
Sano’s three strikeouts give him nine in eight games, to go with six walks, an impressive ratio if he can keep it up.
Molitor said he considered using his bullpen in the eighth inning, but Mike Pelfrey had been on a roll, with few hard-hit balls since Ian Kinsler’s leadoff home run. Would he have made the same choice if the Twins’ bullpen had been a little more reliable lately? Molitor gently objected to the question, and made it clear that wasn’t the reason he stuck with his starter.
“Whatever you want to say about our bullpen, we still like those guys,” Molitor said. “But it was more for me today [about] Mike and his stuff, trusting the match-ups he had to get out of that inning.”
It didn’t work out, with three of the four hitters Pelfrey faced collecting hits. When Molitor finally summoned Blaine Boyer to pitch to Yoenis Cespedes, the righthander surrendered a double down the right-field line to score Kinsler, the fourth time in his last six appearances that Boyer has allowed a run, or an inherited runner, to score.
Eduardo Nunez said he was anticipating the play at the plate as Anthony Gose’s double bounced off the left-center wall in the eighth inning. Aaron Hicks nearly made the catch, but dropped the ball, then quickly got it to Nunez, the cutoff man, in short left field. Nunez spun and fired a terrific throw home to get Marc Krauss at the plate.
Great play, probably honed through repeated practice, right? Not so much.
“We don’t work on that play much. In spring training, we practice that play a lot. That’s what spring training is for,” Nunez said. “We have it in our mind [now]. It’s big-league level. You have to make that play.”