MILWAUKEE – With the Brewers’ most dangerous hitters due up in the eighth inning Tuesday, Twins manager Rocco Baldelli went with his closer Taylor Rogers — putting his best reliever in at the most important part of the game.
But Rogers was not at his best, giving up a two-run home run in the eight as the Twins fell 6-4 to the Brewers at Miller Park.
Rogers threw 21 pitches the night before while earning the save against Milwaukee. Last season, Rogers had a 7.20 ERA when pitching on no days’ rest, with five of the eight home runs hit off him coming in that situation.
After Rogers struck out Keston Hiura for the first out, Christian Yelich beat the shift with a double down the left field line, and Jedd Gyorko blasted a two-run home run to center on a belt-high 94 miles per hour fastball.
“Fell behind [with the] first pitch,” said Rogers (1-2), “and then a little too much over the middle. It’s as simple as that.“
That capped a rally of five unanswered runs by Milwaukee after the Twins slugged three home runs to take a 4-1 lead. Two homers were hit by Eddie Rosario, who has three home runs and seven RBI in the first two games of the series.
With two Twins starters still on the injured list, the club tried to piece together a bullpen game Tuesday. Tyler Clippard gave up the home run in the first inning. Cody Stashak struck out the side in the second and Wisler nearly got through three scoreless innings before Manny Pina began to wreck the game.
First, Pina smacked a home run to center off of Matt Wisler in the fifth. That got the Brewers within 4-2.
The gut punch came an inning later with Trevor May on the mound, a runner on first and two outs. May fell behind 3-0 to Pina and pumped in a fastball just to try to get back in the count. Pina pummeled the pitch over the center field wall for a two-run homer to tie game. Pina stopped as he rounded first base to look at his dugout and scream.
“You’ve just got to move on to the next pitch and try to execute that one as best you can and the next pitch was a slider. I got a pop up ,” May said. “It seems like anything put in the air in this game was going [over] the fence. It’s kind of what the Major League Baseball is now.”
Rogers now has a 8.40 ERA, going back to the start of last season, when he pitches on consecutive days. But Baldelli is not going to waver in his usage of Rogers in key moments of games. Yelich, one of the MLB’s most dangerous hitters, was due up. That’s a matchup made for Rogers.
“We use the word leverage, but that’s not the way we talk about it in the clubhouse,” Baldelli said. “We just say really important spots, the biggest spots in the game. That’s one of those spots where he’s the guy we’re going to turn to many, many times over. Today did it work out? No, it didn’t work out. But he’s our guy and we’re going to lean on him and I don’t think that’s going to change at all.”
Not everything has worked out for the Twins during this road trip, and they need a win on Wednesday that will allow them to head into much-anticipated off day 3-5 on the eight game swing.
“We’ve lost some close games that we could very easily see ourselves winning,” said Baldelli, whose team is 1-4 during the trip in games decided by two runs over fewer. “We just have to make it happen. We talk about not just going out there and expecting to just win and it’s going to happen. But no, you have to go out there and outplay the other team, and I think what we’re doing is we’re playing competitive games, but we’re not clearly outplaying the other team.
“And when that happens in those close ballgames, there’s always a chance you’re going to lose, and we’re losing those games right now.”