MINNEAPOLIS -- Twins right-hander Brandon Kintzler kept his focus on home plate, even as the rain poured down on the All-Star closer.Lightning bolts lit up the dark Minnesota sky just beyond Target Field as Kintzler attempted to grip the soaked laces of the baseball. Kintzler worked quickly in order to
MINNEAPOLIS -- Twins right-hander Brandon Kintzler kept his focus on home plate, even as the rain poured down on the All-Star closer.
Lightning bolts lit up the dark Minnesota sky just beyond Target Field as Kintzler attempted to grip the soaked laces of the baseball. Kintzler worked quickly in order to get to the dry clubhouse, needing just 10 pitches to close the book on a 4-2 victory over the Yankees on Monday.
"He's got to hit a ball that's moving, and I just have to throw it," Kintzler said. "I think I have the advantage, as long as I keep my hands right."
Kintzler notched his 26th save of the season, which is second in the American League behind the Rays' Alex Colome, and it was his 11th straight successful save opportunity.
But Kintzler wasn't the only reliever who had to put in an exerted effort to preserve Minnesota's advantage in the series opener. The Twins' bullpen, which has posted a 4.77 ERA entering Monday, tossed 3 2/3 innings of one-run ball.
The early exit by Twins starter Adalberto Mejia vaulted the team's bullpen into a midsummer test. He was pulled after 5 1/3 innings after allowing one run on five hits. Mejia threw a total of 76 pitches, his lowest total since he logged 70 pitches on April 22.
"I was a little surprised," Mejia said. "But I also understand the situation. Maybe bringing in somebody else would be best for the team. I understand that."
Tyler Duffey was the first out of the bullpen. Clinging to a 2-1 advantage, Duffey got the final two outs, stranding the tying run 90 feet away.
In the seventh, Duffey coughed up the lead on consecutive one-out doubles before handing the ball to setup man Taylor Rogers. The lefty escaped the frame without any further harm before running into trouble in the eighth.
Rogers surrendered a leadoff double to Clint Frazier and intentionally walked Aaron Judge before inducing a timely double play. Minnesota then plated two runs in the home half of the eighth.
"They got the leadoff double, and we tried to figure out our best chance to put a zero up there," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "That [double play] was big."
Rogers, who spun 1 1/3 scoreless frames, notched more than three outs for just the seventh time all season in 41 outings. It marks the third time he has been asked to do so in his previous five appearances. He then handed the ball to the sturdy Kintzler to close it out before the tarp covered the field.
"I feel like I'm confident in myself right now," Kintzler said. "Right now, my fastball is as good as it's been in a very long time, and my slider is coming along really good. I have good weapons coming in there."
Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter **@RhettBollinger** and listen to his podcast.