The Minnesota Twins’ bullpen has been one of the best in baseball all season. They entered Tuesday’s game with the second-best ERA in the majors.
In Tuesday’s 4-2 loss to the Miami Marlins, however, the bullpen faltered.
After starter Kevin Correia allowed just two runs in six innings, Minnesota’s relievers allowed runs in both the seventh and eighth innings as the Marlins escaped with a win. Correia was pinch-hit for in the top of the seventh inning and left-hander Brian Duensing came into pitch the bottom of the seventh. On the first pitch from Duensing, an 85 mph slider, Marlins second baseman Derek Dietrich hit his seventh homer of the season to right field and put Miami on top 3-1.
“I think he just tried to spin a slider over and the guy jumped on it,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said of Duensing. “He kind of ambushed him.”
One inning later, the Twins’ bullpen allowed another run. After relieving Duensing with two outs in the seventh inning, right-hander Josh Roenicke came back to pitch the eighth and gave up back-to-back doubles to Logan Morrison and Marcell Ozuna to lead off the inning. Morrison scored on Ozuna’s double to give the Marlins an insurance run and a 4-2 lead.
That forced Gardenhire to go to his bullpen again, as left-hander Caleb Thielbar came in to pitch for Roenicke.
“We really needed him to get through another inning out there,” Gardenhire said of Roenicke. “We weren’t going to use a few guys that pitched the other day, a lot of pitches. We were trying to get (Roenicke) through it and it didn’t work out. We ended up having to use more people. He threw the ball pretty good when he came into the inning, and starting off the next one just not very good.”
Thielbar was the one bright spot in Tuesday’s game. He pitched a scoreless eighth inning in relief, meaning the Randolph, Minn., native has still not given up a run in 14 2/3 innings to begin his major league career.
Defense boots the ball around: For the first time all season, the normally sure-handed Twins defense committed three errors in Tuesday’s loss to the Marlins, although all four Miami runs scored were earned.
“You don’t win too many games when you make three errors, whether they cost you runs or not,” Gardenhire said. “It’s still more pitches pitchers have to throw and more stressful innings out there, and that’s what ends up happening.”
The first of the three fielding gaffes came in the bottom of the second inning when Pedro Florimon was charged with his team-high eighth error of the year. Ozuna reached first base safely as a result, but he was left stranded at third.
First baseman Justin Morneau committed just his second error of the year in the bottom of the fourth inning, but it again did not end up costing the Twins as Correia was able to retire the next two batters to escape the inning.
Minnesota’s final error of the game happened in the bottom of the sixth, when center fielder Clete Thomas bobbled a base hit up the middle. Two runners scored on the hit by Morrison, who advanced to second on Thomas’ error.
The Twins have now committed 34 errors in 73 games this season, which still ranks among the fewest in the majors.
Buxton makes Miracle debut: Highly-touted Twins prospect Byron Buxton was promoted to High-A Fort Myers over the weekend and made his Miracle debut on Tuesday against Palm Beach.
Batting in the leadoff spot for Fort Myers, Buxton went 1-for-5 with an RBI in the Miracle’s 5-4 loss. He got his first hit in the Florida State League with a single to left field in the top of the third inning. Buxton later reached on a throwing error, which scored a run. In the top of the ninth inning, Buxton had a chance to drive in the tying run with two outs and a runner on third, but he grounded out to second base to end the game.
Prior to his promotion to High-A, Buxton batted .341 with eight home runs, 55 RBI and 32 stolen bases in 68 games for Low-A Cedar Rapids.
FOX Sports North’s Kevin Gorg contributed to this report.