Twins rookie May erratic versus Royals

Twins rookie Trevor May let walks get the best of him again Monday night.

Minnesota rookie pitcher Trevor May has now pitched nine innings in the majors. During that time, he has walked 13 total batters.

Ann Heisenfelt / Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS -- Just when it looked as if Trevor May was starting to figure things out, a familiar problem knocked the Twins right-hander off course.

May got through four scoreless innings Monday in his second career big league start and third overall appearance with Minnesota. In the fifth inning, though, control issues came back to haunt him. May walked three batters in the inning, all of which came around to score. The result was three runs and a loss for May as the Royals topped the Twins, 6-4, in the series finale.

The 24-year-old May has now pitched nine innings in the majors. During that time, he's walked 13 batters and has tallied just three strikeouts. Monday's start was at least a step in the right direction, though, as he lasted 4 2/3 innings -- more than double the two innings he pitched in his big-league debut.

"I have no lack of confidence. I see a definite upward trend in how things are going," May said after the loss. "It's all stuff that's happened to me in my career where I've gone through rough patches and there's always adjustments that need to be made."

The problem in the fifth inning arose with one out after May walked No. 8 batter Alcides Escobar and No. 9 hitter Jarrod Dyson. May then got Nori Aoki to ground out to second base for the second out, temporarily limiting the damage.

However, another walk, this time to Omar Infante, loaded the bases. Royals catcher Salvador Perez made May pay for the walks, driving in Escobar and Dyson with a two-out single to center. Billy Butler followed that up with another single, scoring Infante to put Kansas City up 3-0.

A base hit by Alex Gordon -- the seventh hit surrendered by May -- effectively ended the Twins rookie's night. While it wasn't as rough as the seven-walk start May endured in his debut, the four walks Monday proved costly.

"When things snowball, they happen kind of quickly," said Twins bench coach Terry Steinbach, who filled in for manager Ron Gardenhire after Minnesota's skipper was ejected in the first inning. "He got to that fifth inning and the next thing you know, a couple walks, a couple hits, and all of a sudden you're in trouble and before you blink there's three runs on the board."

May allowed just one walk through his first four innings of work. That came with two outs in the first inning when he walked Butler on four pitches. But May picked up a strikeout of Gordon to leave two runners on the bases without giving up a run.

Things weren't easy in the second inning, either, as May gave up singles to Josh Willingham and Mike Moustakas. Willingham tried to advance to third on Moustakas' base hit and was thrown out by Twins center fielder Danny Santana, keeping May's scoreless inning alive. One batter later, Escobar grounded into an inning-ending double play.

"It was huge, because instead of being first and third with no outs, I had an out and was able to get two pitches and a double play," May said. "A lot of times that's the difference, one ball hit at somebody or a guy behind you making a heads-up play like that. That was one of the best throws I've seen. It was definitely a pickup for me and kind of kept me in the groove and I was able to take it into the next couple innings."

May breezed through the third inning and worked around a two-out double in the fourth before his control escaped him in the fifth. However, the three walks in the fifth inning weren't like the ones he issued in Oakland, several of which came on four pitches -- partially the result of nerves in his debut. On Monday he walked Escobar on eight pitches after getting ahead 1-2 in the count. Dyson walked on five pitches, while May was again ahead 1-2 to Infante before losing him and issuing another walk.

But despite another shaky, walk-filled outing, the Twins have put their confidence behind May. Steinbach said the right-hander should make his next scheduled start.

"There was enough positives, I feel, with what we saw tonight," Steinbach said. "He was executing pitches. He kept the Royals hitters off balance for the most part. I think if you sum it up, it was the walks that hurt him tonight."

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