MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - It was a manager’s nightmare. Two games, two losses and two starting pitchers that didn’t give the bullpen a break.
Mike Pelfrey gave up five runs and seven hits and walked three in four innings for the Twins in a 9-4 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 1 of a day-night doubleheader on Thursday. In the nightcap, emergency call-up Kris Johnson struck out five but walked six in four and 1-3 innings, and the Twins wound up falling to the Dodgers 4-3 in 12 innings.
The Twins went through eight pitchers in the nightcap after using three in the opener. After the second game, manager Ron Gardenhire was on the telephone looking for help, which might come before Friday’s series opener against Baltimore.
“We used everybody,” said Gardenhire. “The biggest way to protect ourselves is if (Friday starter Ricky) Nolasco goes deep in the game. We don’t have any pitchers for the bullpen tomorrow. We’re working on that.”
They may also need help on the bench after center fielder Aaron Hicks left the game with concussion symptoms after banging his head off the wall reaching for Scott Van Slyke’s deep fly.
The Twins nearly pulled out the nightcap, which dragged along at 5 hours and 11 minutes before a smallish crowd at Target Field. With runners on second and third and two outs in bottom of the 12th Chris Collabello lined a ball toward right field, but it was stabbed by a leaping Adrian Gonzalez to end the game.
“It was pretty true, I didn’t really side-spin it at all, maybe hoping that it was going to get over his head or get a deflection, or something like that,” said Collabello.
The Dodgers had taken the lead in the top of the inning on solo home runs by Van Slyke and Drew Butera off losing pitcher Brian Duensing (0-1). Gonzalez hit a homer leading off the 7th that tied the score at 2-2.
The Twins scored on Josmil Pinto’s first-inning sacrifice fly, while Trevor Plouffe came around on an error in the 6th. Joe Mauer brought the Twins to within a run in the 12th on a sacrifice fly.
Jamie Wright (2-1) pitched three scoreless innings for the win, and Kenley Jansen escaped the Twins’ last-ditch effort for his 11th save.
In the opener, Pelfrey (0-3) looked uncomfortable in the 40-degree weather to start the game, squandering an early 2-0 lead for the Twins, who lost their sixth straight interleague game.
A pair of early throwing errors from Carl Crawford in left field and catcher Miguel Olivo on the same play allowed Trevor Plouffe to score from first base on a bloop single by Jason Kubel to give the Twins a 2-0 lead in the first inning.
But Pelfrey, who has not won a game at Target Field since April 16, 2013, gave the lead right back when his walk to Olivo loaded the bases with no outs in the second inning. Yasiel Puig’s two-run double made it 3-2 and the Dodgers scored two more on a double from Matt Kemp and a single from Juan Uribe in the third to take control.
Puig tied a career high with four hits and drove in two runs for the Dodgers as Dan Haren (4-0) struck out seven in 6 2-3 innings for the Dodgers.
Through five starts this season, Pelfrey, who signed a two-year, $11 million contract in the offseason, has a 7.99 ERA, which is the worst of the Twins’ starting rotation.
“I kind of sound like a broken record because I’ve had this talk every five days. It’s not fun, this game is not fun when you have your five days and you go out there and get your butt kicked,” Pelfrey said. “I’m sure the coaching staff, Gardy, I’m sure they’re probably frustrated, but I’m more frustrated than anybody.”
Pelfrey said he would reluctantly accept a demotion to the bullpen if that’s what Gardenhire decides.
“I probably wouldn’t be happy, but obviously I’m not helping the team starting every five days so I’d accept it,” Pelfrey said about being sent to the bullpen. “Go down there and do the best I can and try to get into some kind of groove and get back into it.”
NOTES: Pelfrey extended his home decision losing streak to nine games. … Nolasco (2-2, 6.67 ERA) starts for the Twins Friday against Baltimore and Ubaldo Jimenez (0-4, 6.59) in the first game of a three-game series. … The Twins have lost seven straight interleague games with their last win coming June 19 of last season. … This was the longest game in Target Field history.
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