Pedro Hernandez had to hop in a car and drive with his family overnight from Louisville, nearly 350 miles to Cleveland, to join the Minnesota Twins for Sunday’s game against the Indians.
The trip was worth it for the left-hander.
Hernandez was recalled from Triple-A Rochester prior to Minnesota’s game Sunday against Cleveland. He also got the start in place of right-hander Mike Pelfrey, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a back strain.
“If you’re driving to Triple A, it’s not the ideal situation,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire told reporters before Sunday’s series finale. “If you’re driving to the big leagues, it’s an ideal situation.”
At times Sunday, Hernandez pitched like a guy who had driven five and a half hours the previous night. He was erratic early, walking a total of four batters through the first two innings. That included a three-walk second inning in which Hernandez allowed the tying run on a sacrifice fly.
Hernandez walked two more batters in the third and surrendered the go-ahead run when Jason Kipnis doubled off the wall in left field to score Mike Aviles, who led off the inning with a walk. From there, though, Hernandez calmed down. He allowed just a two-out single in the fourth and then worked a tidy 1-2-3 fifth inning.
That would be all for Hernandez, who left with his team leading 3-2. Minnesota’s bullpen took over from there and preserved the win for Hernandez, his third of the season.
“He was dodging bullets all day long and didn’t really attack the strike zone,” Gardenhire said. “I thought his last two innings were pretty decent. The fifth was his best inning. After coming on short day’s rest, we thought that was plenty.”
After the game, however, Hernandez was optioned back to Triple A. Minnesota recalled right-hander Kyle Gibson from Rochester, and announced that the 2009 first-round pick will make his MLB debut on Saturday at Target Field against Kansas City. Gibson was 7-5 with a 3.01 ERA in 15 starts for the Red Wings this year.
Even for Hernandez to go five innings Sunday was big for the Twins. One day earlier, starter P.J. Walters couldn’t get out of the first inning in a loss to the Indians and Minnesota was forced to use its bullpen for 8 1/3 innings. With Hernandez making it through five, the Twins turned to just three relievers to get through the final four innings.
Hernandez appeared in eight games with the Twins earlier this season, including six starts. He was 2-1 with a 5.85 ERA before he was optioned to Rochester. Minnesota acquired Hernandez late last season in a trade that sent Francisco Liriano to the White Sox in exchange for Hernandez and infielder Eduardo Escobar. In five games (four starts) with Rochester this year, Hernandez was 1-1 with a 4.50 ERA.
While Hernandez might not have gotten much sleep Saturday night, earning the win Sunday to help the Twins avoid the sweep was surely worth it.
“It’s phenomenal. That road he took getting here, it’s not easy,” said Twins first baseman Chris Parmelee, who went 2-for-4 on Sunday. “It’s not easy making the trip this morning and getting here and having to pitch. . . . He kept us in the ball game and he did a heck of a job.”
Hicks will begin rehab assignment: Twins rookie center fielder Aaron Hicks hasn’t played since June 9 due to a hamstring injury, but he has been cleared to begin a rehab assignment. Hicks will travel to Louisville to join Triple-A Rochester and will likely play his first game with the Red Wings on Tuesday.
In 55 games this year, the 23-year-old Hicks is batting just .179 with six home runs and 19 RBI. In his absence, the Twins have used Clete Thomas in center field. If all goes well with Hicks’ rehab assignment, there’s a chance he could rejoin Minnesota by the end of the week.
Right-hander May earns minor league honor: Minnesota pitching prospect Trevor May was named the Twins’ Minor League Player of the Week on Sunday. The 23-year-old right-hander pitched 7 2/3 scoreless innings on Tuesday for Double-A New Britain, striking out nine while allowing four hits. May also pitched Sunday and allowed three runs in 5 2/3 innings while striking out five Akron batters.
May, acquired this offseason from Philadelphia along with Vance Worley in exchange for outfielder Ben Revere, is now 6-4 with a 3.64 ERA in 15 starts for New Britain this year.
Buxton gets promoted: Twins prospect Byron Buxton has been tearing up the Midwest League with Low-A Cedar Rapids. Now he’ll get to try his hand against tougher competition.
Buxton, the No. 2 overall pick in last year’s draft, was promoted to High-A Fort Myers of the Florida State League on Sunday. He was batting .341 with eight home runs, 55 RBI, 10 triples and 32 stolen bases in 68 games with the Kernels.
Because of his impressive numbers this season, the 19-year-old Buxton has garnered attention nationally and is now regarded as one of the best prospects in all of baseball. Before the season, Baseball America ranked him as the No. 10 prospect, one spot behind fellow Twins minor leaguer Miguel Sano, who was recently promoted to Double-A New Britain.
Buxton was one of eight Kernels players who played in this week’s Midwest League All-Star Game. In his final game with Cedar Rapids on Sunday, Buxton was 2-for-5 with a triple in the Kernels’ 13-9 win over Wisconsin.
FOX Sports North’s Kevin Gorg contributed to this report.