Kyle Gibson gave up a first-inning home run, but settled in for 6.0 innings and the Minnesota Twins beat up on the Baltimore Orioles bullpen on a night when Eduardo Nunez, the team’s lone All-Star, was dealt to the San Francisco Giants.
“It looked like he was trying to go to his off-speed stuff a little bit more early and didn’t have quite the command of the pitches he had in Boston,” said Twins manager Paul Molitor. “But he was able to fight through it and minimize the damage there up through six innings.”
The Twins only hung one earned run on Baltimore starter Ubaldo Jimenez, who went 5.0 innings, but were able to score four on reliever Odrisamer Despaigne, who was credited with the loss, and one more on Chaz Roe.
“Kind of a frustrating night for us early off Jimenez. I think we had maybe eight strikeouts, I don’t think many of them were really close to the zone. We just couldn’t slow ourselves down when we got into deep counts, missed some opportunities to get people in from third,” said Molitor.
Joe Mauer got stranded after a triple in the first, and Eduardo Escobar, who was left on third after a double in the second inning. Minnesota was able to throw out two runners at the plate, however, keeping Baltimore from breaking the game open.
“It was huge. They had a potential big inning going. Escobar cutting that ball off and needing to make an accurate throw, which he did, and Kepler charging the ball, got the ball on line, that was the biggest thing to give us a chance to get the out at the plate,” said Molitor.
“We weren’t able to capitalize, we gave up a two-out knock there to Hardy after those big plays, but that could have been a lot more damage there, so that was fairly huge.”
Max Kepler hit his 11th home run of the season in the sixth and a four-run seventh sealed it for the Twins.
“Kepler’s home run was a boost, got us back to even, and that always gives you a little bit more life. And then we found a way to add on there with some big hits — [Brian] Dozier, Kepler had another big hit, [Eddie] Rosario, who was having a tough night, found a way to get one over Jones’ head,” said Molitor.
“We got deep enough in the game, we were able to use [Ryan] Pressly and [Fernando] Abad and [Brandon] Kintzler, and they were all good and were able to find a way to win a game, so it’s a nice rebound after a couple tough losses to Atlanta.”
After the game, word broke that Eduardo Nunez, the team’s lone All-Star this year, had been traded to the San Francisco Giants.
“After the game that we did move Eduardo Nunez out to the Giants,” said Molitor. “About him, his development this year, he’s been a very polished professional in how he’s handled everything. A great opportunity for him this year to get more playing time, he certainly has capitalized with his All-Star appearance, and just much-improved defense.
“I’m happy for him. It’s an opportunity for him to go out there and contribute to a team that’s trying to set its heights fairly high, and I’m not sure how he’ll be used, but hopefully he’ll get a chance to play.”
Nunez had mixed feelings on the trade. After all, he’s going to a contending team, but he has a lot of friends on the team.
Many of his teammates had good things to say about him on Twitter:
“He was a little emotional. He’s got so many friends here, and he’s a guy who plays the game on emotion, he kinda lives on emotion, so I kinda understand that, and I appreciate everything he’s done for this organization,” said interim general manager Rob Antony.
“He always comes to play, he played hard. He’s created a lot of energy for this club, and he’s shown leadership in that clubhouse with a lot of the younger players.
“He did everything we could have asked of him, and this was just an opportunity where we need pitching, and it was an opportunity to get a starting pitcher. So he was emotional, but I think he also understands and realizes he’s going to a first-place club and a great organization that is always in the mix there at the end of the season.”
Antony said there were six clubs that were interested in him, but a high asking price might have turned them off.
In return the Twins received Adalberto Mejia from the Giants Triple-A team.
From the Twins:
Mejía, 23, was rated the 91st best prospect according to Baseball America’s Midseason Top 100 prospect list. The 6-foot-3, 220-pound left-hander has a combined 7-3, 2.81 ERA (105.2 IP, 33 ER) with 27 walks and 101 strikeouts in 18 starts between Double-A Richmond and Triple-A Sacramento this season. A Bonao, DR native, Mejía has a career record of 41-27, 3.27 ERA (539.2 IP, 196 ER) with 130 walks and 462 strikeouts in 112 career appearances (92 starts) in the minor leagues from 2011-16. He will be assigned to Triple-A Rochester.
“It was difficult, but our objective from the start of this process was to try and acquire some starting pitching, and when the opportunity presented itself … we had a lot of interest,” said Antony. “There were probably six clubs that I’ve spoken to about him, but this was an opportunity to get a young 23-year-old left-hander who was pitching in Triple-A and pitching well for the Giants in Triple-A.
“We think he’s fairly close to the big leagues, and he’s got a three-pitch mix to start, he’s got a big, durable body. So we just think he profiles well and he was pretty much what we were looking for.”
Asked if the Twins will still look for more trades in the future, Antony said he’ll keep listening to offers.
“I’m not sure we’re satisfied or done with this,” he said. “I think we need to increase our pitching depth, and I’m not overly-particular, I’d like to be able to get some guys that are at the higher levels. But at the same time, if we have the opportunity to get a high-ceiling pitcher in A-ball or a little bit lower in the minor leagues, we’re not afraid of doing that as well.”