The Minnesota Twins are on pace to set a team record for most strikeouts in a season. Games like Wednesday will only accelerate that.
Minnesota fanned 16 times in Wednesday’s 5-2 loss to Kansas City in the series finale. It marked the most times the Twins had struck out this year in a nine-inning game. Minnesota did strike out 19 times on June 10 against Tampa Bay, but that came in a 13-inning game.
“We hung in there as best we could, but ultimately too many strikeouts,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “I don’t know how many times we struck out, but too many. Their young kid was winging it pretty good.”
Royals starter Danny Duffy racked up seven strikeouts in just 3 2/3 innings Wednesday, which was his 2013 season debut after missing time due to Tommy John surgery. Duffy struck out the side in the second inning after a leadoff single to Oswaldo Arcia, and he picked up two more strikeouts in the third inning.
The Royals left-hander ended each of the first three innings with a strikeout as Twins hitters couldn’t figure Duffy out in his brief outing.
“The ball was flying all over the place and kind of made us uncomfortable,” Gardenhire said of Duffy. “He was able to find the changeup after the first or second inning. That was a pretty decent pitch for him. And then the bullpen came in and did a nice job. We didn’t do too awful much offensively.”
Eight of the nine starting position players struck out Wednesday. The only one who didn’t, catcher Ryan Doumit, left the game in the fourth inning due to nausea. Shortstop Pedro Florimon led the team with three strikeouts, while five other Twins struck out twice.
The Twins’ single-season mark for most strikeouts as a team is 1,121 in 1997. Through Wednesday, Minnesota has now struck out 933 times in 111 games, an average of 8.41 strikeouts per game. Extrapolated to a 162-game season, that would be 1,361 strikeouts for the entire year, which would easily surpass the old club record.
Despite their penchant for strikeouts this year, the Twins were seventh in all of baseball in that category entering Wednesday’s game. Houston led all teams with 1,054 strikeouts prior to Wednesday.
Twins will call up Hendriks: With the ability to add a 26th player to the roster for Friday’s doubleheader in Chicago, the Twins will call up right-hander Liam Hendriks from Triple-A Rochester. He will pitch the second game Friday, while right-hander Kyle Gibson will start in the series opener.
Hendriks pitched in just two games with the Twins earlier this year, going 0-1 with a 4.66 ERA in early April. In 14 starts for Rochester, Hendriks was 3-8 with a 5.12 ERA in 84 1/3 innings.
“He’s been the most consistent,” Twins assistant general manager Rob Antony told reporters. “He wasn’t very good his last start, but six of his last eight have been pretty good. So, he was the logical guy. He’s been up here before. And we don’t have a lot of options, to be honest.”
While Hendriks has enjoyed moderate success in the minor leagues, he hasn’t been able to translate that to the majors. In 22 combined starts from 2011-13, he is just 1-11 with a 5.63 ERA. He didn’t get his first big league win until his 18th career start, which came on Sept. 19 of last season.
Willingham homers in rehab game: Twins left fielder Josh Willingham hit a home run and went 1-for-3 Wednesday for Triple-A Rochester as part of his rehab assignment. His home run was the difference as the Red Wings topped Durham by a 5-4 final.
Willingham has been sidelined since the end of June after having arthroscopic surgery on his left knee to repair a meniscus tear. Wednesday was his third game with Rochester during his rehab assignment, and the home run was his first hit in those three games.
In 70 games with the Twins this year, Willingham batted .224 with 10 homers and 37 RBI. If all goes well during his rehab stint, there’s a chance he could join the Twins this weekend in Chicago.
FOX Sports North’s Kevin Gorg contributed to this report.