Location issues lead to Pelfrey's rough outing

Twins righty roughed up for nine runs in two-plus

Location issues lead to Pelfrey's rough outing

CINCINNATI -- Considering Twins manager Paul Molitor mentioned him as a potential All-Star before Monday night's game, Mike Pelfrey's spot in the rotation should be safe once right-hander Ervin Santana returns from his 80-game suspension Sunday.

Pelfrey, though, turned in his second rough outing over his past four starts, as he lasted two-plus innings, giving up eight runs on nine hits and three walks in an 11-7 loss to the Reds at Great American Ball Park. It marked the second time in his past four outings he gave up eight runs, and he has a 6.84 ERA over that span.

But Pelfrey pointed to the fact that he limited the Cardinals to one run over eight innings just two starts ago,on June 18, right after giving up eight runs to the Rangers on June 13 as evidence that he can bounce back.

"I think if I were younger, it would drag on with me a little longer," said Pelfrey, who saw his ERA rise from 3.06 to 3.81. "But I think now, I look at it different. I understand that falling behind into bad counts and leaving balls over the middle isn't a good recipe. I just need to eliminate that and be better next time out. I think it's easier to turn the page than maybe four to six years ago."

The veteran righty pointed to his location as his biggest issue, as he said he's not dealing with anything physical right now. He said his rough start in Texas was due to a lack of command of his split-finger, but Monday's start was more about falling behind in counts and serving up hits on fastballs that caught too much of the zone.

"I felt fine," Pelfrey said. "The ball just didn't go where I wanted it to. I put myself in bad situations and that's what happens. Tough starts happen."'

His struggles happened in a hurry, as the first four Reds batters reached, including Billy Hamilton, who led off the first with a bunt single. The Twins quickly fell into a 3-0 hole after the first, and Molitor said Pelfrey never recovered.

"I don't think he was able to recover very well from a rough start," Molitor said. "He had trouble locating. His offspeed wasn't too good. They were aggressive and got after him pretty good."

The Twins rallied with a six-run fourth to make it a two-run game, but the Twins were held scoreless the rest of the way by Cincinnati's bullpen. It handed Minnesota its sixth loss in its past nine games.

"At the end of the day we scored seven and we need to win with that," Pelfrey said. "It's frustrating to be down, 9-1, after three. It not only puts our bullpen in a hole, but the offense in a hole. It's a rough spot. The hole I created was too tough."

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.