MINNEAPOLIS — After finally earning his first win in a Twins uniform last time out, Minnesota right-hander Vance Worley took another step forward Friday. Unfortunately for Worley, it didn’t result in his second straight victory.
Worley allowed just one unearned run in six innings Friday against Boston and left with a one-run lead. But the Twins went on to lose 3-2 in extra innings, meaning Worley earned a no-decision.
Still, Worley believed Friday was a step in the right direction.
“It felt good,” Worley said. “We worked on a few things this last week in our bullpens and I felt like it carried over. They took a lot of good pitches that I threw today and the ones I wanted them to swing at, I just wasn’t getting any swings.”
Keeping the ball down was key for Worley, who induced three double plays in his six innings of work. Shortstop Pedro Florimon and second baseman Brian Dozier worked well up the middle, turning all three of the double plays.
“They keep working hard at it,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said of Dozier and Florimon. “These guys take a lot of ground balls out there and they turn it. (Dozier and Florimon) have been working really hard together every day and they have to continue that.”
The second of Worley’s three double plays was huge, as it prevented a run in the fifth inning. With runners on first and third and just one out, Worley got Dustin Pedroia to ground to Dozier for an inning-ending double play on a full count.
It was the second time Worley got Pedroia to ground into an inning-ending double play, as the Red Sox second baseman also did so in the third inning. Worley later got two outs on one pitch when Will Middlebrooks grounded to Florimon for the third double play of the game in the sixth inning.
“It made everything after the first inning go a little quicker,” Worley said. “I’m not a strikeout guy. I’m not going to go out and try to punch everybody out. If I can get them to put the ball in play and make my defense work, we’ll get outs just as fast as trying to punch somebody out.”
Worley ended the night with just one strikeout which equaled his season low. He also walked three batters, which was the most he’s walked in nine starts this season. None of the three walks came back to haunt him, though.
The only run Worley allowed all game was an unearned run. A throwing error by Dozier in the first inning allowed Daniel Nava to reach second base. Nava later scored on a base hit by designated hitter David Ortiz for an early 1-0 Boston lead.
Worley settled down after the first inning and didn’t allow a run the rest of the way. He exited after 96 pitches. Friday’s strong start was one of his best of the young season. On Saturday against Baltimore, he earned his first win but allowed five runs on 11 hits in 5 1/3 innings. Friday, he did a better job of keeping the ball down in the zone, and it resulted in just six hits — all singles.
“Early on I was getting behind in the count, but for the most part I kept the ball down,” Worley said. “For the most part, I kept the ball down today, got the double play balls that I needed to get and fly balls and got out of the inning.”
After Worley left the game, reliever Brian Duensing surrendered the tying run in the seventh. Minnesota’s offense was stymied after Florimon’s two-run homer, and a sacrifice fly by Boston in the top of the 10th proved to be the difference.
Still, the Twins were encouraged by Friday’s outing from Worley, who lowered his ERA from 7.15 to 6.20 in just one game.
“Worley was a lot better,” Gardenhire said. “I thought we saw the ball going down in the zone. He was getting ground balls and mixing up his pitches pretty good. They weren’t all clean innings, but he pitched out of them. … A better performance by him.”