The winning streak stopped at three, as the Minnesota Twins were not able to complete the sweep of the Philadelphia Phillies.
Ricky Nolasco went 6.2 innings, but gave up 10 hits and four earned runs in the loss.
“I don’t think he had his best stuff. He had to battle, his fastball command was not as good as we’ve seen, just trying to find a way to get through and keep us in the game, and for the most part he did that,” said Twins manager Paul Molitor.
“I think he ended up getting 20 outs, which is pretty good when you’re just trying to find ways to get through inning to inning. Still had some chances there, and then they hit the home run, obviously a big blow to increase the deficit.”
Nolasco said that his extended service time in the league has helped him get through games where he was not at his best throughout his career. He was cordial after the game, despite not having his best outing after a few encouraging starts lately.
Ryan Howard hit a solo shot in the second inning off of Nolasco, but the homer that Molitor is referring to in the quote above is a 3-run bomb Freddy Gavis hit in the eighth inning off of struggling reliever Kevin Jepsen.
Philadelphia was up 4-2 going into the seventh, but Gavis’ home run put the game away for good. Minnesota rallied to score one run in the ninth, but it was too little too late.
“We do try to stress that the preparation in what you do to get yourself ready, and then you go out there and just try to perform,” said Molitor when asked about Jepsen.
“But the results can beat you up, and I’m sure right now it’s been tough because he was such a valuable part of our stretch last year. This year, every once in a while he’ll put together a couple good outings, and then he’ll go back a little bit.”
Jepsen acknowledged his struggles and said that he is still searching for answers as to why he has not been able to play as well as he did down the stretch last season.
“He’s fighting,” said Molitor. “I’m sure that he’s frustrated not getting the results. He had issues today with command, and couldn’t get the fastball down, had trouble with the breaking ball. Ended up having to throw a pitch 3-2 over the plate that got hit.
“Just trying to find ways to work him in there and hopefully build on some good outings. They’ve just been a little hard to come by.”
Trevor Plouffe went 0-for-3 and left today’s game with a mild right groin strain. Both he and Molitor said that it is day-to-day, and that he should not have to go on the disabled list.
“We’ll probably give it a day at least to see if it’s gonna be something that we can get him back on the field without going on the disabled list,” said Molitor, “at least that’s the hope right now.”
Molitor said that he wants his guys, especially struggling pitchers like Jepsen and Nolasco, to focus on the process rather than the results. But he understands that when the results are not great, it’s hard to do so at times.
“I don’t profess being a sports psychologist, but I think that when you try to point things out, for me it’s more trying to encourage the mental side, the toughness you need to endure when things aren’t going your way,” said Molitor.
“We can break down mechanics and do things that we’re trying to improve upon, but somehow we have to keep them believing that when they go back out there the next time, they’re gonna have a good outing.”