Mike Pelfrey said his start Saturday in Texas — when he was knocked out in the fourth inning and gave up eight earned runs — was one of his worst outings he could remember.
He looked to bounce back Thursday and did. Pelfrey pitched eight innings, holding St. Louis to a Jason Heyward solo home run in the seventh. Solo shots from Joe Mauer in the eighth and Kennys Vargas in the ninth rallied the Twins to a 2-1 victory.
Pelfrey didn’t get the decision, but his ERA lowered to 2.97.
“Today I felt a lot better,” Pelfrey said. “The command probably wasn’t still great [but] I felt like my arm was live and the ball had movement and was sinking and the split was a lot better.”
Pelfrey said he made a mistake to Heyward in the second inning, and he hit into a double play. Pelfrey felt that might have made Heyward even more determined later in the game when he jumped on a hittable pitch.
Twins manager Paul Molitor said if the Twins would have tied the score in the seventh inning, he might have went to his bullpen. When that didn’t happen, he felt Pelfrey had one more inning in him and let him pitch the eighth.
“It was a great rebound,” Molitor said. “Texas, [that] just wasn’t the guy we have seen for most of the year.”
Big moment for Boyer
With the tying run on third and one out in the ninth inning, the power-hitting-yet-strikeout-prone Mark Reynolds dug in against Twins righthander Blaine Boyer.
It would have been appropriate to wonder why the Twins didn’t have a power pitcher in the game. Boyer, according to fangraphs.com, has a fastball average of 92.8 miles per hour this season.
But Boyer had a little something extra Thursday.
His first pitch hit 96 on the radar gun at Target Field. The second hit 95. Then he threw Reynolds a slider that he swung at and missed for a big strikeout.
“Boyer stepped it up,” Molitor said. “Velocity went up. Movement went up. … Huge strikeout, given the situation.”
Daulin Ramirez, a righthanded pitcher for the Twins’ Dominican Summer League team, was suspended for 72 games after testing positive for Stanozolol, a performance-enhancing substance. Ramirez, 20, has given up nine runs in nine innings for the Twins’ DSL club. His suspension is effective immediately.
Before the game, Molitor said he sensed Kennys Vargas was getting nervous about his situation, especially because Molitor has been shuffling the lineup in an attempt to squeeze a few more runs out of it.
So Molitor had a brief chat with Vargas before the game.
“He told me to have some fun, don’t play with pressure and play your game,” Vargas said.
Vargas snapped a 0-for-15 skid with a single in the fifth, then hit a walk-off homer with two outs in the ninth. Any power from Vargas is vital to the Twins offense, which has been sputtering this month,
“You try to show confidence,” Molitor said.
• After the game, the Twins released outfielder Jordan Schafer, who was hitting .217 in 27 games this season before landing on the disabled list because of a right MCL sprain. The Twins now have 39 spots occupied on their 40-man roster.
• Torii Hunter singled in the eighth inning, giving him 1,277 hits as a Twin to pass Gary Gaetti for sole possession of eighth on the team’s career list.