Polanco error costly as Tepesch can't recover

Miscue contributes to rough 2nd as righty starter allows 7 runs (1 earned)

Polanco error costly as Tepesch can't recover

MINNEAPOLIS -- Jorge Polanco has graded as an above-average defender at shortstop this season by both traditional and advanced metrics.

But he made a costly error -- just his second of season -- in Saturday's 11-1 loss to the Red Sox, booting a routine play that would've ended the second inning but instead prolonged what ended up being an eight-run frame.

"We'll never know how it might've changed the game," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "We couldn't make a play and then couldn't get off the field. I don't know I've ever seen a game where it's 0-2, two outs, nobody on base and then eight runs. It's just one of those oddities of the game, and when it does happen to you, it hurts you a lot because you think about what might've been."

As Molitor noted, right-hander Nick Tepesch, pitching for the first time since April 20, had Chris Young down, 0-2, before serving up a solo homer on a hanging breaking ball. After Sandy Leon singled, Tepesch was hurt by the error and couldn't recover.

Tepesch walked Mookie Betts to load the bases for Dustin Pedroia, who cleared them with a double. Xander Bogaerts followed with a single before Andrew Benintendi ended his afternoon with a two-run double.

Benintendi's two-run double

"I just need to do a better job of getting ahead of hitters and putting them away," Tepesch said. "The biggest thing is getting ahead of hitters more. I fell behind a little bit."

Right-hander Drew Rucinski, recalled Friday, also made his debut in relief of Tepesch, but he couldn't stop the damage, allowing an RBI single to Hanley Ramirez and an RBI double to Mitch Moreland. Tepesch ended with an unusual line as a result, allowing seven runs (one earned) on five hits and two walks in his season debut.

Rucinski K's Young

"I don't know that he was rattled," Molitor said of Tepesch. "But he was facing a really good lineup and hadn't had a chance in a while. I thought he was making some good pitches. Obviously, once we made the miscue, he started leaving pitches over the middle."

Despite his struggles, Tepesch could get another start on Thursday, unless the Twins decide to recall left-hander Adalberto Mejia, who started for Triple-A Rochester on Friday. Right-hander Jose Berrios was scheduled to pitch on Saturday for Rochester, but it was rained out, meaning he'll start Sunday and then won't be available until Friday. Minnesota also needs a starter for Saturday after Kyle Gibson was optioned, so they could stick with Tepesch in the short term and start Berrios on Saturday.

"We'll figure out the rotation here," Molitor said. "Hopefully sooner rather than later."

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. 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.