Ricky Nolasco’s return to the mound last week didn’t give the Minnesota Twins any more confidence in what he can do.
The same can be said about his first two outings against the Cleveland Indians as he served up homers to Yan Gomes in both.
Gomes was the hitting star in the opener of this three-game set and will try to add to Nolasco’s misery Wednesday night at Target Field.
Nolasco (5-8, 5.99 ERA) signed a four-year, $49 million contract in the offseason, the richest free agent deal in Twins’ history. It hasn’t paid off since his ERA is the highest of his career and he missed over a month with a right elbow strain before returning Friday.
The right-hander’s first appearance since July 6 was hardly inspiring, as he was charged with five runs over six innings and suffered a 6-5 loss to Kansas City.
"I don’t think it’s about building confidence up with a guy like him, it’s about results and we need to get results out of him," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We need to see him get going stronger and more consistent, and giving us a chance."
Nolasco never faced the Indians (63-61) until this year, posting a 7.20 ERA without a decision in two starts. He’ll need to come up with a better game plan against Gomes, who homered twice in four at-bats in those games.
Gomes had just three hits in 17 at-bats before going 3 for 4 with a solo homer and three runs scored in Tuesday’s 7-5 victory. The Indians have won six of eight as they try to get back into the AL wild-card race.
Minnesota (55-69) blew a five-run lead after one inning in its third straight loss and ninth in 13 games.
Oswaldo Arcia homered in his third consecutive game with a three-run shot that capped the five-run first inning. The Twins managed four hits the rest of the game.
"Can’t shut down on a team like that. You can see what they’re playing for," Gardenhire said.
The Indians also got a boost from rookie Tyler Holt, who was called up before the game and drove in his first two runs in his fourth stint in the big leagues.
Cleveland will start another rookie on Wednesday in T.J. House (1-3, 4.13), who is 0-3 with a 4.74 ERA in seven road starts. He has not pitched since yielding four runs – three earned – in six-plus innings in a 4-0 loss at Cincinnati on Aug. 7.
That outing extended his run of seven straight in which he has not allowed more than three earned runs. This will mark the left-hander’s second outing against the Twins after giving up three runs in five innings in a 4-3 loss July 21, though he didn’t get a decision.
Twins star Joe Mauer was injured at that time and will get his first look at House. He’s hitting .239 against left-handers this year after batting .301 against them over the previous two seasons.