Twins rookies show power in 6-5 loss to Jays

Published 12:30 pm Saturday, September 7, 2013

MINNEAPOLIS — Heading toward another losing season, the Minnesota Twins have been left to hold out for the hope that comes from a highly regarded group of prospects.

The rookies at least provided Minnesota a temporary bright spot, but even a rare show of power wasn’t enough in a loss on Friday.

Rookies Chris Colabello and Josmel Pinto homered for the Twins, but former Minnesota knuckleballer R.A. Dickey pitched into the seventh inning for Toronto, and the Blue Jays hung on for a 6-5 victory on Friday night.

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“We were excited,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said of Pinto’s first major-league home run. “We were excited when Colabello hit his too just to get us within reach. Guys were fired up.”

Colabello homered for the third time in four games and has credited a swing adjustment in the cages with allowing him to cover the plate and catch up to fastballs.

His seventh home run of the season, a two-run shot in the seventh inning, helped Minnesota climb within 6-3 after the Blue Jays scored five runs in the third inning off Twins starter Mike Pelfrey (5-11).

But Colabello, the International League MVP despite playing only 89 games for Triple-A Rochester, struck out with two runners on in the eighth ending another rally. Colabello had two hits and two RBIs Friday and has hit .421 with seven RBIs over the past four games.

“The first pitch at the beginning I got a little big with the swing, obviously after facing a guy who’s not quite overpowering your first three at-bats,” Colabello said of his final at-bat.

“Obviously I would have liked to have got myself in a little bit better situation than having to go 0-2. I’d say I didn’t really get much to hit that at-bat, but I think I would have liked to have had a little bit better at-bat in general.”

Pinto brought the Twins within one with a powerful solo homer to lead off the ninth inning against Toronto closer Casey Janssen.

One of the better prospects in Minnesota’s system, Pinto has hit 9 of 14 in his first four major-league games.

“He’s a pretty exciting kid,” Gardenhire said. “He’s learning. … But the swing you see. He’s got a really nice, short compact swing. He’s got pop and he’s battling and doing a decent job behind the plate with these guys that he’s trying to learn.”

Twins rookies accounted for six of the team’s 10 hits Friday and four of the five RBIs, with Oswaldo Arcia snapping an 0-for-15 streak with two hits.

Dickey (12-12) won his third straight start, giving up seven hits and three runs to a Twins team he was a reliever for in 2009. He struck out four and walked one. Janssen closed it out for his 28th save in 30 tries on a strikeout-caught stealing double play.

“That was kind of the R.A. Dickey that I saw in New York,” Pelfrey said. “You can’t give him six runs and expect to win a ballgame. That’s all on me.”

Pelfrey has had to grind through the year, his first in the AL and his first after Tommy John surgery.

While full counts, frustrated pacing around the mound and sub-six-inning starts have been the story of Pelfrey’s summer, he turned a corner in August.

In his previous four appearances, he totaled 25 innings and allowed eight runs. Last week at Texas, he matched a season high with seven strikeouts, went walk-less for only the fourth time in 26 starts this year and gave up only one run.

But all that progress was gone by the third inning, when the Blue Jays battered Pelfrey’s pitches all over the outfield. He steadied himself and retired nine of the last 10 batters he faced, but the damage was done. Pelfrey completed six innings, giving up six hits and six runs, five earned. He struck out seven and walked two.

NOTES: Twins GM Terry Ryan on Mauer returning this season: “I don’t think there’s any doubt that’s going to happen.” … SS Pedro Florimon had two errors, one fielding and one throwing. … The Blue Jays are 9-3 all time at Target Field. … The Twins will send RHP Kevin Correia (9-10, 4.18 ERA) to the mound on Saturday night, and LHP J.A. Happ (3-5, 5.54 ERA) will pitch for the Blue Jays. … With September call-ups in place, the Blue Jays have 32 players on the active roster. The Twins, waiting for Triple-A Rochester to finish the International League playoffs, are only at 26.