Wetmore: 5 thoughts on Pino's debut, Perkins, multiple Mauer RBIs
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MINNEAPOLIS - Yohan Pino waited a long time for his Major League debut. Once he got his chance, he made the most of it.
Pino pitched 7 strong innings Thursday and allowed just two runs on five hits. He struck out seven and walked just one batter. That's one strikeout shy of a Twins record for a Major League debut, just short of Boof Bonser. The Twins plated a pair in the eighth to win, 4-2, which had to please whatever remained of the crowd that waited out a rain delay of two hours and six minutes.
This column presents 5 thoughts from Thursday's game. If you're interested, I'm scheduled to appear Friday on 1500 ESPN's Talkin' Twins segment at 11:35 a.m. You can listen online here.
As always, feel free to ask any questions or make any observations in the comments. If you have a unique baseball observation during a game, feel free to share it with me on Twitter (@DerekWetmore).
1. Based on his minor league numbers, Yohan Pino deserved a call-up. Pino had made seven starts and also pitched out of the bullpen for the Red Wings. Several other starters - especially Trevor May - have pitched well for Rochester lately, too. Often in a situation like that, the decision of whom to promote involves minor league performance and the luck of timing.
"He was the guy who was pitching the best there and has earned the opportunity," assistant GM Rob Antony said before Thursday's game. "Our pitching staff [in Rochester] has done very well, but he's probably the guy that time in and time out, he's done it. He's done it in different roles. ... Let's find out what he can do [in the Majors]."
"Trevor May pitched [Monday]; he wouldn't have been available to pitch tonight. So sometimes it's about timing. This time it was about the right guy and there was no adverse timing."
1b). Pino's debut was impressive. He struck out seven batters and walked just one in 7 innings. He allowed two earned runs on five hits and did not factor in the decision.
Catcher Kurt Suzuki said after the game that Pino is able to throw his 88- or 89-mph fastball by hitters because he's deceptive in his delivery and he can control his breaking pitches and throw them in any count.
He used his fastball and slider primarily, with the occasional curve ball and changeup mixed in. He recorded at least one strikeout with each of those four pitches and had 12 swinging strikes in 94 pitches.
2. Joe Mauer had a pair of RBIs, including one on a double through a drawn-in infield in the eighth inning that broke a 2-2 tie. Danny Santana singled and Brian Dozier singled behind him to set up first and third with nobody out for Mauer. Mauer fell behind 0-2 but worked the count full. Reliever Jake Petricka (righthander) gave Mauer a slider on the outer half of the plate that didn't appear to break that much. Mauer laced it past the third baseman and took second without a throw from the left fielder. Santana scored easily on the play.
That's Mauer's third game this season in which he drove home multiple runs. He collected three RBIs in a game on April 12, and 4 RBIs on May 13.
"It's been a frustrating month," Mauer said. "I've been hitting the ball pretty good and trying to be consistent but not having the result. Tonight I had the results so hopefully that continues."
At times I've wondered if Mauer would try to tweak his swing if balls that used to fall for hits are turning into outs as a result of opponents' shifts.
Apparently, that's been the case.
"I'm human. You know, it's a game of adjustments. Sometimes you're making adjustments where you necessarily don't have to. I kind of ran into that a little bit this year where my swing was good and things were going good and you try to make and adjustment to get that result and it kind of backfires."
3. Josh Willingham's power was on display Thursday. He led off the second inning with a 419-foot home run to left field. The next inning, he crushed a pitch about 20 feet to the left of the left field foul pole. It looked as if it would have landed in the third deck in left if it had stayed fair. He flew out on the next pitch. When the ball left his bat, it didn't sound from the press box like he squared up the pitch, but he still drove it to the warning track, just short of the bullpen in left center field. The sign in the deepest part of the park reads 411 feet.
4. Glen Perkins pitched one day after he was unavailable with back stiffness for a save opportunity in Boston. Of course, if you follow the Twins closer on Twitter, you already knew he'd be available if it came down to it.
Glen Perkins (@glen_perkins) June 19, 2014
Perkins gave up a weak one-out single to Jose Abreu, but otherwise pitched a clean inning for his 18th save.
5. That's about how you'd draw up a game for the Twins if you could: seven innings from the starter, Casey Fien for the eighth and Perkins to close it. Fien gave up back-to-back home runs in the 10th inning Wednesday, but has been the Twins' second-best reliever this season.
Ron Gardenhire was clear after the game that Fien is the setup man and he didn't consider passing over him Thursday because of a bad result Wednesday.
Fien said he looked at film and saw what he did wrong in Boston and tried to fix it Thursday.
"As a reliever that's all you can do: forget about yesterday and bring on today," Fien said.
"It gets put into question; you start questioning yourself when it comes down to it," Fien said of being confident in the face of failure. "When I came in today I forgot all about it."
"I think I still need to work. Once you think that you've got it all figure out, that's when stuff starts hitting the fan."
And here are the roster moves that made room for Pino.