Twins walk off on Herrmann's pinch-hit single
Pelfrey keeps Minnesota close with 6 1/3 innings after rough start
MINNEAPOLIS -- As the Twins began to rally with the game tied in the bottom of the ninth inning, Chris Herrmann simply watched from his spot the bench.
The backup catcher didn't think to get ready for a potential pinch-hit opportunity, which caused his manager to shout in his direction to hurry up and grab a bat, batting gloves and a helmet.
Luckily for the Twins, Herrmann's mad scramble to get to the plate worked out in their favor, as he delivered his first career walk-off hit to lead the Twins to a 4-3 win over the White Sox on Thursday night at Target Field.
"I was just kinda sitting there watching the game and didn't have my stuff ready, so it was my fault. I should've been more ready to go," Herrmann said, smiling. "But I guess it worked out as planned."
Herrmann, pinch-hitting for the slumping Pedro Florimon with Ramon Troncoso on the mound and one out, laced a single just past a diving Paul Konerko at first base to score pinch-runner Doug Bernier. Bernier had replaced Chris Colabello at second base after he walked and reached second on a failed sacrifice bunt from Clete Thomas that saw Trevor Plouffe thrown out at third.
"It felt good and it's a moment I'll never forget," Herrmann said. "Hopefully, there will be more to come."
It capped a come-from-behind win for the Twins just one day after they couldn't hold a late lead in a loss to the Indians. Down by a run in the eighth inning, the Twins tied it up on an RBI single from Justin Morneau off Nate Jones to bring home Joe Mauer, who doubled and just barely beat the throw of right fielder Avisail Garcia.
"It was a nice win after a really, really tough loss last night," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Some good things happened out there."
It came on a night when Mike Pelfrey, who entered with a 5.40 ERA in two August starts, did his best to dispel the notion that he's tiring in his first season back from Tommy John surgery. He went 6 1/3 innings, giving up three runs on seven hits and a walk with four strikeouts. It marked just the third time this year that he's pitched into the seventh inning, and he registered his first quality start since July 24.
"I'm encouraged by the way it finished, but not so much by the way it started," said Pelfrey, who didn't throw a bullpen session between starts for the first time this year. "Giving up two runs in the first is never the way you want to start. But my command was much better than my last start, when I had five walks and a hit batter."
As Pelfrey noted, he struggled in the first inning, giving up two runs, before settling down. Alejandro De Aza and Gordon Beckham opened with consecutive singles to start the game before Adam Dunn scored De Aza with a single and Beckham scored on a sacrifice fly from Konerko.
The White Sox scored again in the third, when De Aza led off the inning with a walk, stole second, advanced to third on a grounder from Beckman and scored on a sac fly by Alexei Ramirez.
Pelfrey regrouped after the sac fly, retiring 10 of the next 12 batters he faced until running into trouble in the seventh. He surrendered back-to-back singles to Conor Gillaspie and Josh Phegley with nobody out before getting Jordan Danks to fly out to center field. Left-hander Caleb Thielbar was able to get De Aza to pop up to second before right-hander Josh Roenicke induced a weak popup from Jeff Keppinger to end the inning.
The Twins simply couldn't get anything going offensively early in the game, as they were held in check by Brazilian right-hander Andre Rienzo. Rienzo allowed two runs (one earned) on just four hits without issuing a walk in six innings, but fell short in his quest for his first career victory.
"It was a good performance," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "It was just one of those -- you feel bad for him, because he's pitched pretty good and hasn't really had anything to show for it."
Minnesota didn't get on the board until the fifth, when Plouffe launched a solo shot into the White Sox bullpen in left field. It was Plouffe's 12th homer of the year and came on a 3-1 fastball.
The Twins scored again in the sixth on a two-out RBI single from Josh Willingham to plate Brian Dozier, who reached on a fielding error by Ramirez.
The bullpen allowed the Twins to keep the game close, as Thielbar, Roenicke and Jared Burton combined to throw 2 2/3 scoreless innings, with Burton getting the victory.
"I don't know if you could ask any more from them," Pelfrey said. "They were great and kept us in the game. And in the end, the offense found a way to win. So, it was a good win."