Twins’ bullpen allows late grand slam

Published 2:24 am Wednesday, August 19, 2015

NEW YORK — The Minnesota Twins makeshift bullpen was no match for Alex Rodriguez and the New York Yankees.

Forced to adjust the roles in his ‘pen to give Kevin Jepsen, Casey Fien and Glenn Perkins a much-needed rest, the Twins wasted a three-run lead on one swing — Alex Rodriguez’s record 25th career grand slam, in the seventh inning — and Minnesota lost to the New York Yankees 8-4, its second late-inning loss in a row.

After the Twins took a 4-1 lead in the seventh, on a two-run homer by rookie Miguel Sano off CC Sabathia and an RBI single by Shane Robinson off reliever Nick Rumbelow (1-0), New York scored four times in the bottom half against rookies Ryan O’Rourke and J.R. Graham (0-1).

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“I had who I had,” Molitor said. “I had a plan, and we had to get some outs from those people, and tonight, we weren’t able to get them.”

Pinch-hitter Chase Headley singled off left-hander O’Rourke to begin New York’s rally. Brendan Ryan walked and, after Jacoby Ellsbury flew out to right, Brett Gardner walked to load the bases, forcing Molitor to make a pitching change.

“You put the guys out there who were available,” Molitor added. “You hope they can step up and tonight, they just weren’t able to do it.”

After a first pitch ball from Graham, Rodriguez connected on a 95 mph fastball, driving the ball into the New York bullpen to snap an 0-for-18 slump and earning a curtain call from the crowd of 38,007.

“I thought those days were long gone,” the slugger said. “A grand slam feels pretty awesome and especially to do it late and to help us win a game.”

Rookie Greg Bird added his first major league RBI for New York.

Pitching on an extra day of rest, Sabathia retired the first 13 batters before walking Trevor Plouffe in the fifth. Eduardo Escobar singled two batters later to end the no-hit bid.

Plouffe scored on Kurt Suzuki’s RBI double, but Escobar was thrown out at home on a perfect relay throw by shortstop Didi Gregorius.

The Twins were finally able to chase Sabathia in the seventh.

After Joe Maurer worked a leadoff walk, Sano hit the first pitch he saw from the big lefty, just clearing the wall in left-center for his third home run against the Yankees in only five games. Sano is now 7 for 20 in those five games, with six RBIs.

“I have a lot of family here, and a lot of friends, too,” Sano said. “I was really happy to hit a home run for the family to see.”

Sabathia retired the next two batters before giving up back-to-back singles to Escobar and Suzuki, to end his day.

Sabathia pitched 6 2-3 innings, allowing four runs and five hits, striking out five and walking three.

Twins starter Mike Pelfrey worked into the sixth inning, but needed 104 pitches.

Only allowing Bird’s RBI single in the fourth, Pelfrey walked one and struck out four.

Pelfrey had come into the game 2-5 on the road with a 5.95 ERA and was able to keep the Yankee offense at bay, but found himself behind batters most of the night and at one point, fell behind 2-0 on four consecutive batters.

“That is my regret, not being able to go deeper into the game,” he said. “I left the bullpen kinda in a bad spot. 20 pitches per inning is not going to cut it.

Andrew Miller went 1 1-3 innings for his 27th save.


Twins: After the game, Molitor indicated that Perkins is being sent back to Minnesota because of back problems and will have a MRI Wednesday. Perkins will also receive a cortisone injection.


Twins: Ervin Santana (2-3, 5.66 ERA) will make his 17th career start against the Yankees in the series finale. He is 5-8 with a 6.34 ERA against the Yankees and has not defeated the Yankees since August 1, 2008, a span of 10 starts.


Sano, the Twins highly-touted rookie, became the third player in the history of the new Yankee Stadium (since 2009) to homer in each of his first two games at the Stadium. He joins Philadelphia rookie Maikel Franco, who did it earlier this year, and Toronto’s Randy Ruiz, who accomplished the feat in 2009, the first season at the ballpark.