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HRs, late rally fall short as Gonsalves falters

Cave, Kepler lead charge, but Twins unable to recover from early hole
August 20, 2018

MINNEAPOLIS -- Lefty Stephen Gonsalves' Major League debut didn't go as planned, as he couldn't make it out of the second inning against the White Sox.Gonsalves, the Twins' No. 5 overall prospect per MLB Pipeline, gave up four runs over 1 1/3 innings in a 8-5 loss on Monday night

MINNEAPOLIS -- Lefty Stephen Gonsalves' Major League debut didn't go as planned, as he couldn't make it out of the second inning against the White Sox.
Gonsalves, the Twins' No. 5 overall prospect per MLB Pipeline, gave up four runs over 1 1/3 innings in a 8-5 loss on Monday night in a makeup game at Target Field. Gonsalves, who had a 1.27 ERA over his last 11 starts at Triple-A, surrendered six hits, but had trouble with his control, walking two and hitting another batter. He said he had nerves, including his back leg shaking before his start, but he did his best to try to embrace the moment despite the results.

"It is something I'll never feel again," Gonsalves said. "I was very excited to get out there. That first inning couldn't have gone any better. Then the second inning, the game kind of sped up on me, and I got hit around a little bit. A couple unlucky balls found holes. Kept pitching and battled, but it wasn't working out for me."
After a 33-minute weather delay, Gonsalves opened with a scoreless first, keyed by two strikeouts, but it unraveled in the second. He gave up a leadoff triple to Nicky Delmonico and an RBI single to Matt Davidson, who battled back from an 0-2 count. After walking Yolmer Sanchez, Gonsalves hit Kevan Smith with a curveball with Smith looking to bunt. He was then hurt by bad luck with Tim Anderson blooping a ball down the right-field line, only for it to drop between three defenders for another run.

"I think [his nerves] were a little bit more reflected on how many pitches he kind of overthrew and left up in the zone," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "We know that the command at times can be a little sketchy, and it's what's gotten him into problems along the way. But the second inning deteriorated in a lot of ways between free passes and hard-hit balls, and we missed a chance on that popup that fell in between three guys."
Jose Abreu, Gonsalves' first career strikeout victim in the first, delivered the decisive blow with a two-run double. After walking Daniel Palka to reload the bases, Gonsalves was removed for Alan Busenitz, who was able to strand all three runners with a strikeout and a groundout.

"It was up," Gonsalves said of his changeup, which is normally his best pitch. "[Location] was there occasionally. I threw a 2-0 to Abreu that he pulled down the third-base line for that double. So it was in the strike zone, it was just a little up today."
The Twins tried to get back into the game, but couldn't get much going against right-hander Lucas Giolito. Christopher Austin scored Jake Cave with an RBI double in the second, while Cave made it a two-run game with a two-run shot to center in the fourth. It was the second straight game with a homer for Cave, who has six on the year.

But the White Sox kept tacking on after Gonsalves left in the second, scoring in the fourth with the help of an error, as Abreu stole third and Mitch Garver's throw hit off Miguel Sano's glove, allowing Abreu to score. Davidson essentially put the game away with a two-run homer off Trevor May in the seventh, while Palka added an RBI double in the eighth.
The Twins scored twice in the ninth with Max Kepler hitting a solo homer and Ehire Adrianza singling home a run with two outs, but it was too little, too late.

"They just found a way to keep scoring at the end," Molitor said. "We couldn't narrow the gap and get back in it. We made a little push in the ninth, but we couldn't get the tying run up there."
Gonsalves' outing was the shortest by a starting pitcher in an MLB debut since Mike Mayers of the Cardinals went 1 1/3 innings against the Dodgers on July 24, 2016. It was also the shortest by a Twins starter in a debut since Travis Miller lasted one inning against the Rangers on Aug. 25, '96.
"It's understandable. It's kind of amazing when you think about how much baseball you've played, and played at these dimensions. The mound doesn't change, but you get out there in a different environment, a big stadium and people, and expectations and realization of a dream. It can affect people, no matter what your demeanor or makeup is. It's something that everyone is going to respond to a little bit differently. I'm sure he's going to learn from it. I have a lot of confidence in that. We'll move forward. That's what I told him. He came in, and I'm sure he was a little bit upset with himself, but that's how you learn. That's hopefully how you get better." -- Molitor, on Gonsalves

After the makeup game in Minnesota on Monday, the Twins play the White Sox again on Tuesday in Chicago to start a two-game series that begins at 7:10 p.m. CT at Guaranteed Rate Field. Right-hander Jose Berrios (11-8, 3.75 ERA) starts for Minnesota and is looking to bounce back from a pair of shaky outings. Highly-touted prospect Michael Kopech starts for the White Sox in his Major League debut.

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for since 2011. Read his blog, **Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter [@RhettBollinger](** and listen to his podcast.