CLEVELAND – In adding the four-out save to Glen Perkins’ occasional responsibilities, Twins manager Paul Molitor has also introduced the closer to something else he hasn’t seen in awhile: baserunners.
Perkins was summoned with two outs in the eighth inning Thursday, and asked to retire Oakland’s Marcus Semien with a runner on first base, then hold the Athletics in the ninth, too. He did, needing only 11 pitches.
But not only was it the fourth time in his career Perkins had retired more than three hitters to earn a save, it also marked only the fourth time he has entered a game in a save situation with a runner on base. Matter of fact, in his 63 total appearances in 2014, Perkins inherited one runner all season.
“I didn’t give too much consideration to that fact,” Molitor said. “He doesn’t have a great [pickoff] move, but he’s quick enough to home in general that he’s going to give us a chance if a guys tries to run.”
And Perkins said it doesn’t matter to him, either. Some closers have a distinct preference for starting an inning “clean,” but Perkins said: “I told Mollie I have no problem with it. I came in all the time with runners on before I was a closer.
“The way I look at it, even if there are runners on base, I only have to get one out. I’ll just focus on getting the batter.”
Under Molitor, Perkins has entered the game with runners on base three times this season, two of them in save situations. That equals the number of times it happened in his past two seasons.
Oh, say can you line up?
Nearly every member of the Twins lined up in front of the dugout as “The Star-Spangled Banner” played before Friday’s game, and Molitor said the team would try to keep doing so, though he has no plans to require it of his players.
Responding to a WCCO-TV report on Thursday telecasts that was critical of the lack of Twins who line up together for the anthem, Molitor sounded surprised that anyone would question the team’s patriotism, “given [what] this organization does to honor our servicemen.” Before the anthem, the Twins introduce and honor a veteran who then raises the flag while the song is sung.
“I think our pre-anthem [ceremony] is probably as well done as any team in the game. It’s been responded to very positively by our fans, that’s why it’s continued,” Molitor said. “And I don’t think there are any players here who have anything but the utmost respect for our servicemen as well as our country. It’s sad it’s being portrayed in this light.”
Molitor made showing respect for the anthem ceremony part of his preseason talk with the players, but noted that pitchers are already in the bullpen, and some players have pregame routines that keep them off the field until just before first pitch. “I don’t want to change guys and what they do to get ready for games,” he said, “but we certainly will try to find a way” to increase the number.
• Casey Fien and Tim Stauffer, left behind in Minnesota with the other injured Twins, have each begun a throwing program, but neither has thrown off a mound yet. Meanwhile, outfielder Oswaldo Arcia and utility infielder Eduardo Nunez remain too sore to swing a bat, assistant general manager Rob Antony said.
• Recently demoted starter Tommy Milone made his first 2015 start for Class AAA Rochester on Friday, pitching 6⅓ shutout innings in a 3-0 victory over Louisville. The lefthander struck out eight and walked two.