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Baker’s solid effort for naught vs. Crew

June 24, 2011

MILWAUKEE — The Twins had pitched around Prince Fielder all night. And when they finally gave him a pitch to hit in the seventh inning, he didn’t miss it.

Fielder struck out to lead off the second, then walked on six pitches in the fourth before being intentionally walked in the fifth. Lefty Jose Mijares fell behind, 3-0, on Fielder in the seventh, and when he put a 3-2 fastball over the plate, Fielder ripped a double to right, giving the Brewers a 4-3 victory over the Twins.

“Ended up making a bad pitch to Fielder and he got us,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “We tried to not let the guy beat us, and he ended up beating us.”

Mijares threw six fastballs to Fielder, the first three of which missed the zone. After two called strikes, Twins catcher Joe Mauer set up away for another fastball, but Mijares left it over the plate for Fielder.

Gardenhire questioned the decision to have his lefty reliever throw six straight fastballs to a left-handed slugger like Fielder.

“I’m just disappointed because we threw six straight fastballs,” Gardenhire said. “Looking for a breaking ball, even 3-2, and we never threw it; we threw another fastball. And that’s disappointing to me because we have to execute better than that.

“He made a terrible pitch. We damn sure don’t want Prince to beat us, and he did. The guy’s a great hitter, that’s what he does. That’s what he does best.”

Mijares said that he had been throwing the slider in the bullpen warming up, and it had been working well. It was not so effective the last time he pitched, which may have contributed to Mauer’s pitch selection.

Still, Mijares was surprised that the All-Star catcher called for all fastballs.

“I don’t know what’s going on with Mauer,” Mijares said. “He never put down a sign for breaking ball. Never. It was fastball, fastball, fastball, fastball.”

Mauer said that it was easy to question the pitch selection in retrospect, but that he believed it was the best chance for Mijares to get Fielder out at the time.

He also noted that location was an issue when Mijares did throw the fastball.

“Called for a fastball there,” Mauer said. “I didn’t call for it down the middle.”

With a one-run lead, Gardenhire said that he did not want to put the go-ahead run at second base, even after Mijares fell behind 3-0.

Fielder said he was just looking for a good pitch to hit.

“I didn’t know what they were going to do, that’s why I just kind of took it [3-0], to see what was going on and, you know, I’m not surprised,” Fielder said. “They’re trying to get me out and that’s their job.”

Fielder’s late double ruined what could have been a fourth straight quality start for Twins right-hander Scott Baker.

Baker still delivered a solid start, but surrendered four runs on eight hits, with the last two runs coming on the double given up by Mijares. Baker struggled a bit with his command, walking four batters while also recording four strikeouts.

After leaving in position for a win, Baker took his fifth loss.

“In that situation, of course you want to pitch to the guy,” Baker said. “I don’t care who’s coming in behind you. It doesn’t matter if it’s the best closer in baseball or the 12th or 13th pitcher. As a starting pitcher, you do not want to leave [with] guys on base.”

All four Brewers runs came on doubles, as Corey Hart and Ryan Braun also doubled home runs in the fourth and fifth innings.

After opening the series in San Francisco with an eight-run first inning, the Twins scored just three runs over the final 26 innings against the Giants. Minnesota put up three in the sixth on Friday night with one swing by Danny Valencia.

Following a Michael Cuddyer one-out walk and a Delmon Young single, Valencia put the first pitch he saw from lefty Randy Wolf into the seats, his eighth home run of the season. Valencia also increased his team-leading RBI total to 36.

Wolf had given up just three hits and two walks prior to the sixth inning, and finished with three runs allowed over seven innings for his sixth win of the season.

“A disappointing loss for our ballclub,” Gardenhire said. “That’s tough to take right now. Bake pitched his tail off for us, and did very, very well. We brought the left-handed matchup and it didn’t work out for us.”

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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