BALTIMORE -- In a game that saw six different players make their Twins debut as they aim to make the postseason for a second straight year with a revamped roster, it was closer Fernando Rodney who wishes his first game with his new club went a bit different. After the
BALTIMORE -- In a game that saw six different players make their Twins debut as they aim to make the postseason for a second straight year with a revamped roster, it was closer Fernando Rodney who wishes his first game with his new club went a bit different. After the Twins completed a wild rally to tie the game at 2-2 in the ninth, Rodney served up a solo blast to Adam Jones on a first-pitch fastball in the 11th inning in a 3-2 loss on Thursday at Camden Yards.
It was a tough defeat for the Twins, who saw Baltimore score two runs in the seventh -- an inning in which Zach Duke struck out four batters, but was bested by a pair of wild pitches and a two-run triple from Caleb Joseph on a first-pitch fastball.
"There was some strange things, but I think when you look at it overall, what we proved is that if we're going to go down, we're going to go down swinging and not make it easy on the other team," Duke said. "We battled. That's kind of the signature of this team."
Before Rodney gave up the game-winning homer, he helped the Twins escape a jam in the 10th, coming in with two on and one out. After a bloop single from Manny Machado to load the bases, the Twins brought in a five-man infield against Jonathan Schoop. It paid off with the Twins turning a 6-2-3 double play to get out of the inning, but Jones ended it in a hurry with his homer to lead off the 11th.
"I know he's a free-swinging guy, but I missed my location on the pitch," Rodney said. "I've seen Adam Jones for a long time since I was in Detroit, Tampa and Anaheim, and it was the first long ball off me."
The Twins made closer Brad Brach work in the ninth, with Max Kepler drawing an impressive walk despite falling behind 2-0 in the count to load the bases with two outs. In an interesting move by Twins manager Paul Molitor, he decided to pinch-hit for emerging star Byron Buxton, opting to go with the patient Robbie Grossman, who would be less apt to chase Brach's splitter. The move worked out perfectly, with Grossman laying off a few tough pitches to get himself into a 3-1 count and bloop a two-run single into center.
"I had a good feeling he was going to put it in play and take a good at-bat and we were able to tie the game and extend it," Molitor said. "It's just one of those gut situations where you put the guy up there you think might have a better chance to get a hit or extend the inning."
The loss spoiled a strong outing from right-hander Jake Odorizzi in his Twins debut, as he tossed six scoreless innings, scattering two hits and two walks with seven strikeouts.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Rosario robbed: The Twins appeared set to take the lead when Eddie Rosario smacked a deep drive to right-center to lead off the second, only to see right fielder Craig Gentry make a great leaping catch up against the wall to rob Rosario of a homer. Rosario's deep drive left the bat at 101.3 mph at a launch angle of 34 degrees, per Statcast™, but it wasn't quite enough. It came after James Dozier and Joe Mauer both flied out to warning track in the first.
"Dozier's ball and Joe's ball and Rosey's ball, three of your first four hitters get 'em out to the track, and we just couldn't push one over," Molitor said. "That was a nice play by Gentry to bring one back."
Five-man infield does the job: With the bases loaded and one out in the 10th, the Twins brought in Rosario from left field to be their fifth infielder. Rodney induced a grounder to shortstop Eduardo Escobar on a two-seamer to Schoop, and Escobar threw home to start the critical double play.
"I just thought it was our best chance to get out of it," Molitor said. "That one worked. It was a great game."
"I think it's no big deal. We played hard for 11 innings. When you play 11 innings and play as hard as we did and lose by one run, it's no big deal. You don't want to lose, but it's part of the game sometimes." -- Rodney, on the loss
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Duke became the first Twins pitcher to strike out four batters in an inning since Tyler Duffey on May 8, 2016.
After an off-day on Friday, right-hander Kyle Gibson will get the nod on Saturday at 6:05 p.m. CT on MLB.TV. Gibson, who is lined up to start the home opener for the Twins, is coming off a solid second half last season, posting a 3.76 ERA over his final 13 starts.
Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.
Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook.