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Littell roughed up in debut as Twins split DH

Righty allows six runs in three-plus innings in nightcap
MLB.com @RhettBollinger

MINNEAPOLIS -- Zack Littell's first Major League start didn't go as he envisioned it, but the 22-year-old stayed positive about his outing, focusing on things he can learn from the next time he gets a chance to start in the Majors.

The right-hander, called up from Triple-A Rochester to be the club's designated 26th man in the twin bill, gave up four runs in the first inning and lasted three-plus innings in the Twins' 6-3 loss, splitting their doubleheader against the White Sox on Tuesday night at Target Field. Littell was optioned back to Rochester after the game, but came away excited about making his debut.

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MINNEAPOLIS -- Zack Littell's first Major League start didn't go as he envisioned it, but the 22-year-old stayed positive about his outing, focusing on things he can learn from the next time he gets a chance to start in the Majors.

The right-hander, called up from Triple-A Rochester to be the club's designated 26th man in the twin bill, gave up four runs in the first inning and lasted three-plus innings in the Twins' 6-3 loss, splitting their doubleheader against the White Sox on Tuesday night at Target Field. Littell was optioned back to Rochester after the game, but came away excited about making his debut.

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"Obviously, the results weren't there but it was one of the more fun nights of my life," Littell said. "I got to live out my dream. And that was awesome. I didn't pitch the way I wanted to, but the experience was incredible."

Video: CWS@MIN: Littell freezes Moncada for 1st career K

Littell, ranked as the club's No. 15 prospect by MLB Pipeline, struck out the first batter he faced, Yoan Moncada, looking on a 95 mph fastball, but it was downhill from there. He served up a double to Yolmer Sanchez before allowing a two-run blast to Jose Abreu on a first-pitch fastball. Kevan Smith and Adam Engel each added RBI hits with two outs.

"What got my attention was velocity right away," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "It was up from what he had been throwing, whether it's adrenaline or trying to do too much too soon. Some of the things we had heard about what he's doing didn't really surface tonight. Part of it's just part of the experience of being up here. He'll learn, he'll be better."

Littell settled down a bit over the next two innings before walking the first two batters he faced in the fourth. Right-hander Matt Magill came in but promptly served up a two-run double to Sanchez with both runs being charged to Littell, who gave up six runs on six hits and four walks. Magill, though, didn't allow another hit and threw three innings to help the bullpen stay fresh despite the doubleheader.

Video: CWS@MIN: Escobar plates Grossman with a double in 8th

Offensively, much like the first game against starter Reynaldo Lopez, the Twins couldn't get much going against right-hander Lucas Giolito, who entered with a 7.53 ERA. He lasted six innings, giving up two runs in the third after a pair of walks to Gregorio Petit and Robbie Grossman.

Eddie Rosario hit a long single off the base of the right-field wall to load the bases but Miguel Sano grounded into a run-scoring 6-4-3 double play. Eduardo Escobar, who had the game-winning homer in Game 1 and went 3-for-4 in Game 2, laced an RBI double but was stranded when Max Kepler grounded out to first.

"I feel good," Escobar said. "For me, it's been about coming in and working hard every day. My swing right now is good, but it's about coming to field ready and trying to help the team win."

Video: CWS@MIN: Kepler fires to third to nab Abreu in 9th

Escobar kept up his impressive day with an RBI double to score Grossman in the eighth, putting two runners in scoring position with one out. But lefty Luis Avilan struck out Kepler and righty Joakim Soria struck out Mitch Garver to quell the potential rally.

The Twins made it interesting in the ninth against Soria, putting two runners on for Rosario with two outs, but Rosario grounded out to second to end the game.

"We had some opportunities," Molitor said. "Didn't capitalize when they came around. I'm a little disappointed we couldn't finish off the sweep."

MORRISON OUT WITH BACK INJURY
Twins first baseman/designated hitter Logan Morrison didn't see action in either game, as he's been dealing with back stiffness since Sunday. The Twins are hopeful it's a minor injury.

"We're just going to monitor it and see what it turns into," Molitor said. "I'm hoping it's a short-term deal, but he wasn't available today."

SOUND SMART
With a double in Game 1 and two more in Game 2, Escobar has 23 doubles this season, which is the most in the Majors. Abreu is second with 22. Escobar has already surpassed his total of 16 doubles last year, while his career high is 35 in '14.

"I think he knows where people try to work him," Molitor said. "Things he's more vulnerable to. He tries to make those adjustments. We talked about after the first game how he learns to shorten up when he needs to when the guy is trying to elevate velocity just so he can get to it. I just think he's gotten a better idea in how to use what skill set he brings up to the plate."

HE SAID IT
"There's no way to prepare for this, no matter what you do or who you talk to. There's just no way until you pitch in a Major League game. So I just need to continue to work on what I've been working on and stay with my consistency to get back up here again. I think the only way to get better is keep doing it and learn from it." -- Littell, who had 21 family members and friends at the game for his first start

MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
The Twins were hurt by an overturned call in the seventh, when Ehire Adrianza hit a ground-rule double and was caught taking too big of a lead at second base. Adrianza was initially ruled safe on the pick-off attempt, but after a review, the call was overturned for the second out. Petit flied out to right to end the inning.

Video: CWS@MIN: Volstad nabs Adrianza as call overturned

UP NEXT
Right-hander Jake Odorizzi (3-2, 4.14 ERA) is set to start for the Twins in the third game of the four-game set on Wednesday at 7:10 p.m. CT. Odorizzi is coming off his worst start of the year, allowing seven runs in 3 2/3 innings against the Indians. Former Twins left-hander Hector Santiago (1-2, 5.10) starts for Chicago.

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook.

Minnesota Twins