MINNEAPOLIS -- The story of the Twins the first month of the season has been their emphasis on drawing walks.
Something must have been lost in translation as the calendar has turned from April to May, because Twins pitchers spent Thursday issuing walks.
Twins pitchers issued six walks in Game 1 of their day-night doubleheader with the Dodgers, followed by 12 more in Game 2, tying a club record.
Amazingly, none of those 12 walks came around to score, but in the end it was solo homers by Scott Van Slyke and old friend Drew Butera that carried Los Angeles to a 4-3 victory. That gave the Dodgers a doubleheader and series sweep following their 9-4 victory in the opener.
After the two homers off Brian Duensing put the Dodgers up 4-2 in the second game, the Twins loaded the bases with nobody out in the bottom of the inning off closer Kenley Jansen. They got a sacrifice fly from Joe Mauer, but with runners and second and third and two out, Chris Colabello hit a line drive right to first baseman Adrian Gonzalez to close out a game that lasted 5 hours, 11 minutes, the longest game in Target Field history.
Two games, nothing to show for it but worn-out pitchers.
"This ends a day, a long frustrating day," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Not getting a win out of one of these two."
In addition to the long, fruitless day, every Twins reliever threw Thursday. Some were pitching for the second straight day. Some had a big workload on Thursday. Duensing threw 20 pitches on Wednesday and came back to throw 2 1/3 innings on Thursday. It showed in the end, as Van Slyke led off the 12th with a home run into the bullpens in left-center and former batterymate Butera followed three batters later with a blast into the left field stands.
After the game, the clubhouse was closed longer than normal as the Twins made a call to see who was available to be called up from the minors to prop up the bullpen for the short term.
"We're working on that process too," Gardenhire said. "We've been on the phone talking, trying to figure out what we needed to do. The biggest way to protect ourselves is for Mr. (Ricky) Nolasco goes deep in the game (Friday night). We don't have any pitchers available for the bullpen tomorrow."
The game saw the Twins debut of lefthander Kris Johnson. When he made his first major league start last season with Pittsburgh, Johnson admitted he let his nerves get the best of him as he had a rough outing.
In his second major league start, Johnson pitched well enough to earn some standing applause as he left the field in the fifth inning Thursday, but he did not get a decision.
Johnson, called up on Thursday as the 26th player in a day-night doubleheader, did not chew up and spit out the Dodgers lineup. But he left with the Twins holding a 1-0 lead.
He stranded runners in every inning he pitched in. He was one big swing from big trouble throughout the evening. But he earned applause by holding the Dodgers to no runs on four hits and six walks -- six -- while striking out five.
The Dodgers tied the score at 1-1 in the sixth inning on a run-scoring single by Juan Uribe. That scored Van Slyke, who tripled off the center field wall to open the inning. Aaron Hicks ran back and leapt at the wall to try to catch the ball, but he appeared to smack his head and tumbled to the ground without the ball. He was checked out and remained in the game until the top of the seventh, when he was replaced after he showed concussion-like symptoms.
The Twins were gifted a run in the bottom of the inning. Trevor Plouffe reached second on third baseman Uribe's throwing error. Colabello tapped between the mound and third base. Dodgers reliever Brandon League grabbed the ball and turned to throw to third to get Plouffe, but Uribe was off the bag. League turned to first and threw wildly to first, allowing Plouffe to score and give the Twins a 2-1 lead.
That didn't last long, as Gonzalez led off the seventh with a 413-foot home run into the bullpens in left-center off Michael Tonkin.
While Johnson made his first start with the Twins, there were questions about when Pelfrey would make his next start.
The Dodgers pulled away in the opener, collecting 15 hits off Twins pitching -- seven off Pelfrey, who might lose his spot in the rotation.
The Twins gave Pelfrey a 2-0 in the first inning, but that cushion evaporated as he fell behind hitter after hitter. The?Dodgers scored three runs in the second, on an RBI single by Dee Brown and a two-run double by Yasiel Puig. Los Angeles added two more runs in the third on an RBI double by Matt Kemp and RBI single by Uribe.
Pelfrey labored throughout his outing, and his fastball, which can hit 93-94 miles per hour on the gun, was coming in at 88-90. Pelfrey got through four innings before being replaced by Sam Deduno.
"At the end of the day, if I don't perform they will find someone else," said Pelfrey, who is 0-3 with a 7.99 ERA this season.
(c)2014 Star Tribune (Minneapolis)
Visit the Star Tribune (Minneapolis) at www.startribune.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services