MINNEAPOLIS — Depending on who you asked, Twins right-hander Mike Pelfrey’s start Friday was either pretty good or pretty disappointing.
The first opinion belongs to Pelfrey’s manager, Ron Gardenhire. The latter is Pelfrey’s take on his latest outing in Friday’s 9-6 loss in extra innings to the visiting Baltimore Orioles. The loss can’t be chalked up to Pelfrey, though, as he pitched six innings and allowed three runs. It was the second straight game that the veteran went six innings.
But Pelfrey was much harder on himself than his skipper was on him after the loss.
“My stuff wasn’t very good at all tonight,” Pelfrey said. “Against a team like that, I thought I was fortunate enough to get through six.”
Pelfrey was spotted a big lead after Minnesota scored two runs in the bottom of the fifth to jump out to a 6-0 advantage against Orioles starter Jason Hammel. But as Pelfrey took the mound for the top of the sixth inning, Baltimore’s lineup started to come to life.
Nick Markakis led off the sixth with a double and came around to score on a double by Chris Davis — one of his three doubles in the game. Two batters later, shortstop J.J. Hardy joined the party with his own RBI double to score Davis. Baltimore added another double for good measure when Chris Dickerson sent one to the gap in left-center field that scored Hardy to cut the Twins’ lead to 6-3.
Pelfrey retired former Twins infielder Alexi Casilla to end the sixth inning and left the game with a three-run lead. Still, Pelfrey was displeased with how that inning unfolded.
“Obviously, the sinker was working, so my mindset was let’s pound that sinker and let’s get through six,” Pelfrey said. “But unfortunately, I think they made an adjustment and started taking the ball the other way where earlier they were trying to pull those sinkers. The Markakis pitch was bad and the pitch to Hardy was over the middle and was bad. Besides that, I thought it was OK. But I needed that secondary pitch to be a lot better tonight.”
In his most recent start prior to Friday, Pelfrey allowed just one run on four hits in six innings during a 4-2 win over the Cleveland Indians. The fact that he was able to once again go six innings was a positive sign; his last two starts have been the only two in which he’s lasted six innings.
After giving up just one run and striking out seven the last time out, though, Friday’s three runs on nine hits and just one strikeout were a bit of a setback in Pelfrey’s opinion.
“Maybe after my last start, maybe I got spoiled and expected to have that kind of stuff every time out,” Pelfrey said. “It was far from it.”
While Pelfrey may not have been thrilled with how things went Friday at Target Field, Gardenhire believes Pelfrey is starting to come around after a rough month of April.
This season marks Pelfrey’s first year after having Tommy John surgery on his right elbow early last year. It’s been a process to work back from the injury but his last two starts may be a sign that things are starting to come back to Pelfrey.
“His last one was a really good start,” Gardenhire said. “The ball was coming out tonight. It was crisp against a good hitting baseball team. He moved the ball in and out and had them going for six innings, into the sixth. A good start for him. He’ll just keep building off that.”