Sloppy defense, homers undo Twins

Sloppy defense, homers undo Twins

Sloppy defense, homers undo Twins
MINNEAPOLIS -- When Liam Hendriks was optioned to Triple-A Rochester on May 6 after posting a 9.00 ERA in his first four starts, the Twins told the young right-hander they wanted him to work on his command down in the Minors.

Hendriks did just that -- going 5-0 with a 1.94 ERA in seven starts with the Red Wings -- and got a second chance on Saturday against the Brewers.

But his success didn't carry over in his first outing since being recalled, as he struggled to keep the ball in the park, serving up three homers in the Twins' 6-2 loss to the Brewers at Target Field.

"I come away frustrated knowing I was doing so well at Rochester, and I come up here and get another chance and don't put forward my best foot," said Hendriks, who surrendered five runs (two earned) on eight hits and a walk while striking out five. "I was glad with the last few innings and how I finished. But it's just one of those things where there are some things I still need to work on."

One thing Hendriks still needs to work on is getting ahead of hitters, as he consistently fell behind with first-pitch balls. He threw first-pitch strikes to just 10 of the 25 batters he faced.

"I was getting behind guys, and they were taking advantage of it," Hendriks said. "They were hitting the ball pretty well. I was throwing some good pitches and they still managed to hit those pretty hard as well. They're a good hitting team. It just wasn't my best game."

Hendriks, making his first big league start since May 2, wasn't helped by his defense either, as three of the five runs he allowed were unearned.

Milwaukee got on the board early with two runs in the second. Jamey Carroll made an error at second base on a grounder hit by Taylor Green following a leadoff single by Rickie Weeks. Both runners came around to score on a two-out single from Norichika Aoki.

Hendriks then gave up back-to-back homers on consecutive pitches to start the third inning, as Ryan Braun connected on a solo blast on a 3-2 fastball, before Aramis Ramirez jumped on a first-pitch slider for a solo shot of his own.

"Hendriks was behind in the count quite a bit," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He battled pretty well. His breaking ball, he left up a couple times and they hit it out of the ballpark."

The Twins answered with a run in the third on an RBI single from Ben Revere, after Darin Mastroianni led off the inning with a double. But it was all Minnesota could muster against right-hander Michael Fiers, who allowed just one run on four hits and two walks over seven innings.

Braun was at it again in the fifth, with another solo blast off of Hendriks to give him his third homer of the series. The homer, which came on a 1-1 slider, came after Carroll dropped a pop fly in foul territory for his second error of the game.

"You have to add on," said Braun, who now has 19 homers. "We got a couple runs early, but the challenge is to continue to add on. You know you're facing a good team. They're swinging the bats well."

Right-hander Anthony Swarzak tossed two innings in relief of Hendriks, but gave up a homer on the first pitch he threw to Cody Ransom in the sixth.

The Twins scored a run in the eighth on an RBI single from Josh Willingham that gave Minnesota two runners on and nobody out. But Justin Morneau grounded into a double play, before Ryan Doumit flied out to deep left to end the potential rally.

Mastroianni missed out on a chance for his first career homer in the ninth, as he hooked a ball down the left-field line that was ruled foul by third-base umpire Brian Gorman. After a replay review, the call was upheld and Mastroianni promptly struck out on the very next pitch from Jose Veras.

With the loss, the Twins dropped their fourth straight. They had previously won 10 of 13.

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