MINNEAPOLIS — Samuel Deduno has only been with the Twins for five days this season, but even he could see just how taxed Minnesota’s bullpen has been lately.
With that in mind, Deduno delivered exactly the type of outing the Twins needed Wednesday — especially coming off Tuesday’s 14-inning marathon in Milwaukee. With the Brewers in town for a two-game series at Target Field, Deduno pitched into the eighth inning and allowed just one run as Minnesota topped Milwaukee by a 4-1 final.
“Our starting pitcher was as Sammy is,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said of the enigmatic Deduno. “He can wing it all over the place. I think he makes hitters very uncomfortable to be in there. He gave us a great performance. We needed desperately for him to get deep into the game.”
Deduno’s seven-inning start was the longest by a Twins pitcher since Kevin Correia pitched seven innings on May 14th against the White Sox. Minnesota was hoping Deduno could get through the eighth inning but he hit the leadoff batter — his third hit batter of the game — and walked Ryan Braun before he was pulled by Gardenhire after 100 pitches.
Still, for a starting rotation that has routinely lasted just five or six innings in recent weeks, seeing Deduno pitch into the eighth inning was a sight for sore eyes — and for sore bullpen arms. The Twins used seven relievers for a total of 9 1/3 innings in last night’s 14-inning victory. One day later, all it took was Casey Fien and closer Glen Perkins for an inning each thanks to Deduno’s seven strong innings.
“Guys want to pitch down there, but if our starter can go seven, eight, nine innings every time out, we’d take that anyway,” said Perkins, who pitched a scoreless ninth for his 11th save. “That’s what we need our starters to do, and Sam got into the eighth tonight. We need more of that.”
As Twins fans saw last year, control is not Deduno’s strong suit, although sometimes that can work to his advantage. In his season debut in Detroit on Friday, he gave up six runs on nine hits and three walks while striking out two as Minnesota fell 6-0 to extend its losing streak to 10 games.
In Wednesday’s start, it was a much different Deduno. Still, he wound up hitting more batters (three) than he struck out (two). He also walked two more batters but surrendered just four hits in seven innings. The one run he did allow came in the top of the second with Minnesota holding a 3-0 lead. After former Twins outfielder Carlos Gomez led off the inning with a double to center that was nearly caught by Aaron Hicks, Gomez came home to score on a groundout by Yuniesky Betancourt.
While Hicks couldn’t make the catch on Gomez’s fly ball in the second, he did rob Rickie Weeks in the top of the fourth to help Deduno and save a run. With a runner on third and two outs, Weeks sent a liner to left-center field. Hicks made the long run and made a diving catch to take away extra bases.
Seeing his center fielder save him, Deduno threw up his arms in excitement. In his limited time with the Twins, the 29-year-old right-hander has shown that type of emotion at times.
On Wednesday, that exuberance was a welcomed sight.
“This is me,” Deduno said. “When the guy’s doing a great job and (makes) a great catch, then my arm’s going to be up.”
Deduno was once again able to celebrate after the bullpen preserved his first win of the season and seventh of his career. Meanwhile, the bullpen was celebrating that Deduno spared them on Wednesday night and finally gave the Twins the type of start that was so badly needed.
“We were wanting him to get through the (eighth), but it just didn’t work out,” Gardenhire said. “But what a performance. He makes hitters uncomfortable. … He did a great job for us, gave us a chance to score some runs. He took the lead and ran with it. We needed it. That was a good one.”