In Ryan Pressly’s 33rd outing of the season, he left a curveball hanging to Ian Kinsler, who deposited it 411 feet to left field. The Minnesota Twins 2-1 lead? Gone. Lance Lynn’s six-inning, one-run outing against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim’s potent lineup? Spoiled.
The Angels would exit the inning up 3-2. Justin Upton would add an insurance run with a homer off of Addison Reed in the eighth to make it 4-2.
“Left a pitch hanging. He hit it. Made me pay for it,” Pressly, who gave up a double to Martin Maldonado in the seventh as well, said. “He put a good swing on it. I probably should’ve gone with another pitch but it is what it is. I wanted it down. Obviously I left it up and that’s the way it happened.”
Pressly’s 33 outings match Joe Jiminez’s for the most in the American League this year. Pressly held hitters to a .224/.270/.276 line in the first month of the season, and .250/.351/.396 in May. June? .500/.545/.800 in three appearances.
“I’m fine,” he said, when asked if he was getting fatigued. “Still throwing pretty hard and I’ve got control of all my stuff. I just made a bad pitch. I can’t do nothing about it now. You just have to tip your hat to him. I left it hanging.”
His ERA is 15.75 over his last five outings. It’s 18.00 in June. In the first month of the season it was 0.59.
Pressly's ERA over his past 5 outings: 15.75
4 IP, 8 H, 7 ER, 3 HR, 1 BB, 8 K
— Mike Berardino (@MikeBerardino) June 9, 2018
“His stuff is still good, you don’t want to second guess,” said manager Paul Molitor. “He’s throwing pitches that he thinks he can get outs with. The 3-2 slider to Maldonado double and he made some pitches to get the second out. Kinsler got ahead there.
“He threw him the 1-2 fastball and he fouled it off and he thought he could get him to chase a curveball but he didn’t get it in the chase zone, he got it in the nitro zone.”
It was Reed’s 30th appearance. Pressly and Reed have been reliable seventh and eighth-inning men, respectively, for the Twins this year. But with a handful of short starts — as well as the common removal of starters, even after a good outing, in the sixth and seventh inning — have added up to a higher workload for Minnesota’s best relievers.
“For Reeder it’s been probably more location-based than stuff-based. For Pressly, it’s been a mixed bag,” said Molitor. “Sometimes his breaking balls are backed up. The other day he walked Ramirez on four pitches, on off-speed pitches, and then challenged the next hitter with a fastball, and it went a long way.
“So I think he tries to reach back and throw everything as hard as he can, and sometimes not getting it to a spot maybe is more costly than maybe trying to back down and make sure he’s commanding his pitches.”
Molitor said that he is conscious of their workload, and is trying to keep things in check with his most reliable relievers.
“We have workload issues with a lot of guys, as far as outings continuing to compile,” he said. “We try to back guys off even a couple days when we have to, it’s just up here sometimes you’ve got to be called upon even maybe when you’re not 100 percent. That’s just how it is sometimes. He should’ve been in pretty good shape today coming in, and I thought (Pressly’s) stuff was good.”
Lynn, who has dismissed pitch counts in the past, said that he considered going back out for the seventh, but decided that it was not in his, or the team’s, best interest.
“We talked, Moli and I did, about the game before and with what we have coming up,” said Lynn. “So it was one of those thing where we’re over 100, where would I have liked to go out? Yes. But it wasn’t the smart play, maybe it was a good time to not push it.”
Lynn ran into some trouble in the second inning, when he gave up consecutive one-run singles to Zack Cozart, Jose Fernandez and Maldonado, but stuck out Mike Trout with the bases loaded to limit the damage.
“I had some bad luck in the second, some soft hits that worked, and that’s part of the game,” he said. “Just gave up one there, and to be able to get out of the inning with Trout up is big.
“You know I was happy about that, and then I gave the team a chance to win. That’s what I try to do each time out.”
Neither he nor Pressly got much run support. Eduardo Escobar was 2-for-4 with a triple. Miguel Sano doubled in a run in his first plate appearance, but struck out in his three. Robbie Grossman’s solo shot in the sixth gave the Twins a temporary one-run lead. But that was it.
“Lynn’s first run, [you] can’t take a lot of fault for that as far as Kinsler’s hit to the right side,” said Molitor. “You end minimizing by striking out Trout. But we just didn’t have enough offense overall.”
“It’s getting there,” said Lynn, who dropped his ERA to 5.08.
But with only two runs scored, plus two homers given up by two of Minnesota’s best relievers, the Twins once again lose a close one. Fourteen of their last 16 games have been decided by three or fewer runs. They are now 16-25 in games decided by two or fewer runs his year.
“Our overall record particularly in one-run games is a big reason why we are where we are,” said Molitor. “You look at teams that have been more effective in finding ways to close out games and win those close ones, Seattle comes to mind, every time I look up they’re winning by one run. So, yeah, those can be swings in how your season unfolds.”
The Seattle Mariners are 20-9 in one-run games, and are one game ahead of the defending champion Houston Astros in the AL West at 40-23. With Saturday’s loss, the Twins are 27-33, 5.5 games back of the Cleveland Indians in the AL Central, 10.5 games behind Houston for the second Wild Card spot.