Big inning not enough for Twins in loss to Reds
CINCINNATI -- Well, Minnesota Twins manager Paul Molitor was looking for more offense on Monday as he juggled his lineup to bat Torii Hunter third for the first time all season.
CINCINNATI - Well, Minnesota Twins manager Paul Molitor was looking for more offense on Monday as he juggled his lineup to bat Torii Hunter third for the first time all season.
He got the desired effect, but the Twins could not outhit Mike Pelfrey’s pitching.
Pelfrey put the Twins in a huge hole early as it looked like blowout city at Great American Ball Park. But they fought back to make the final innings interesting before losing 11-7 to the Cincinnati Reds in the first game of a three-game series.
Down 9-1 through three innings, the Twins caught a wave of productive at-bats against Reds right-hander Mike Leake. Hunter led off the fourth with a double then scored on Trevor Plouffe’s single. Eddie Rosario ended a lengthy at-bat with a single to center, putting two runners on.
Kurt Suzuki struck out, but Eduardo Escobar cracked an RBI double to score Plouffe and make it 9-3.
Pinch hitter Kennys Vargas popped out, but Danny Santana singled to right to make it 9-4 and bring Brian Dozier to the plate with two men on.
And Dozier promptly fell behind 0-2. Reds catcher Travis Barnhart set up for a pitch down and away. Leake threw a sinker belt-high and over the middle of the plate, about as bad a miss as a pitcher can make. Dozier didn’t miss it, blasting a three-run homer to left to bring the Twins within 9-7. It was just the fifth time this month the Twins had scored as many as seven runs in a game.
Molitor left Milwaukee after two losses in three games to the Brewers trying to figure out how to jump start the offense. His 55th different lineup of the season seemed to work.
“We’re putting pressure on our pitching staff by not having many days where we give them much to work with early and kind of have to grind out games.” Molitor said. “If that’s the way your team turns out, then you have to deal with what you have.
“Right now we are having trouble scoring runs. We have had a couple games where we have done some damage but, overall, it’s been a little bit of a scuffle.”
The Reds added a run in the sixth ion Eugenio Suarez’s squeeze bunt that became a single, then they pushed the lead to 11-7 in Jay Bruce’s RBI double in the seventh.
The night the Twins bats came alive was the same night Mike Pelfrey did the same for the Reds.
It didn’t seem like Pelfrey threw that poorly. Billy Hamilton reached on a bunt hit, because that’s what he does. Ivan DeJesus blooped a single to right and Joey Votto walked.
But Pelfrey was laboring, falling behind hitters and looking totally uncomfortable. The Reds scored three runs in the first inning as Pelfrey needed 30 pitches to face eight hitters.
Trevor Plouffe scored during a double play in the second to get the Twins within 3-1, but Pelfrey was the same pitcher in the second inning. Hamilton walked, stole second and third then scored on a single to make it 4-1. When he gave up a double, two singles and a double in the third, Molitor had to yank him in favor of Alex Meyer.
The command issues that ruined Meyer’s debut on Friday returned on Monday. Cincinnati scored five runs in the third and led 9-1. Pelfrey’s two innings made it the shortest outing of the season for him. He was charged with eight runs on nine hits and three walks with one strikeout.
The Reds stole six bases on Monday, four by Hamilton. It’s the second time this season he’s stolen four bases in a game. And he came within one of tying the single-game record for steals against the Twins. That is held by Bert Campaneris on May 24, 1976.