Kintzler's blown save adds to bullpen woes

Twins closer has been a bright spot among struggling relievers

June 8th, 2017

SEATTLE -- The Twins' bullpen struggles continued, but Wednesday night's collapse was different.

had not been a problem for the Twins' woeful bullpen, which sports a Major League worst 5.28 ERA. He had been a bright spot, entering Wednesday, tied for the second best save percentage in the American League, with 15 saves in 17 opportunities.

But it was Kintzler who was stamped with the loss and the blown save, his third of the season, in the Twins' 6-5 loss to the Mariners.

The 32-year-old closer left a sinker up in the zone to Mike Zunino in the bottom of the ninth, and Zunino launched it to the opposite field for a walk-off two-run homer. Ben Gamel had singled with two outs to keep the Mariners alive.

"I think he was trying to throw a little back-door sinker there and he left it up and it came back over the middle," manager Paul Molitor said of Kintzler's pitch on Zunino's homer.

Kintzler's mistake erased what were encouraging outings from -- who gave up one run on one hit and struck out two in 2 1/3 innings -- and .

"Duff was good, he was efficient," Molitor said. "He got us seven outs; low pitch-count. And Taylor did a nice job in his two batters."

Duffey's one blemish was giving up a solo home run to in the sixth. 

Pitching with breathing room is a luxury for any reliever. But especially for Kintzler, who flirts with disaster frequently, allowing a large percentage of balls in play.

Opponents are hitting .267 against him in the ninth or beyond, the seventh-worst among 32 qualified pitchers with 10 or more innings in that situation. He's striking out opposing batters in the ninth and in extra innings at a 14.9 percent clip, the second-worst among pitchers with 10 or more innings in that situation.

Letting opposing hitters put the ball in play hasn't burned him much this season. But it did Wednesday night.

"He's going to be in trouble at times, just because of the fact he's going to put the ball in play more times than not," Molitor said.

Is theTwins' bullpen in trouble after another collapse, this time with an unusual suspect being the culprit? Perhaps. But Duffey is adamant they're in a good spot.

"I think when we've been in games and ready to rock, we've gotten the job done pretty well," Duffey said. "A run in the eighth inning is a lot different from a run in the second. It's magnified pitching out of the bullpen. So it's one of those things that can happen once or twice, but it can be a lot bigger than just that.

"As long as we keep that in mind and say 'next game, next day, next batter,' that's really all we have to do."