With game on line, Twins’ Alex Colomé gets big outs

It’s been a difficult season for Twins reliever Alex Colomé, who was signed this offseason to be the right-handed part of a closing tandem with Taylor Rogers.

Colomé allowed 15 runs, eight earned, on 12 hits and five walks and blew three saves in August and never recovered.

He entered Saturday with two saves, four holds and a 4.99 earned-run average but pitched a big scoreless inning in the Twins’ 9-4 victory over Detroit at Target Field.

Jorge Polanco had just given the Twins a 5-4 lead with a three-run home run when manager Rocco Baldelli called on Colomé to start the eighth inning.

He started by putting the tying run on second when Jonathan Schoop doubled to left, and it appeared another bad inning had just begun.

But Colomé got Robbie Grossman to ground out to second and with Schoop on third fanned Eric Haase (looking) and Jeimer Candelario to end the inning.

“He (bore) down, got some swings and misses, faced some good hitters and frankly got them out right in the middle of the mix, in the middle of this game, when we really needed it,” Baldelli said. “It’s just a defining moment in the game.”

The Twins scored four runs in their half of the inning to put the game away.

Colomé led the majors with 47 saves for Tampa Bay in 2017, had 30 for the White Sox in 2019 and finished last season’s abbreviated schedule with 12 saves and a 2.97 ERA.

“He has a track record. He’s always been a good pitcher,” Twins designated hitter Nelson Cruz said. “The year didn’t start the way he wanted, but he’s making the adjustments he needs to make, and today was a good example.”

NEW HAT, FIRST WIN

Reliever Danny Coulombe (1-0) earned his first win Saturday with 1 1/3 innings of scoreless relief.

Before his first pitch, home plate umpire Greg Gibson had a long talk with o Baldelli and asked Coulombe to change his hat as part of MLB’s initiative against ball tampering.

“It’s not random,” Baldelli said. “If there’s any real marking on any of the hat, whether it’s purely putting rosin on your hand or just simply touching it, the umpires are being asked to be very diligent in making sure there’s nothing on the hat.”

Baldelli said he was told there was nothing “tacky or worrisome” on the hat but said Gibson asked the Twins to “make it easier for everyone” and replace it.

“That’s the way we’re all going to have to handle this and be understanding going forward,” he said.

BRIEFLY

Cruz stole second base in the third inning Saturday, his fourth stolen base in 2,281 plate appearances since 2017. He was 3 for 3 with a walk and run scored. … Prospect Josh Winder, hit near the ear by a comebacker while pitching for the Saints on Wednesday in Des Moines, will make his appearances in the Futures Game on Sunday in Denver. … Catcher Mitch Garver, sidelined since getting hit in the groin by a foul tip on June 2, was behind the plate before Saturday’s game with coach Bill Evers practicing his throws to second base. “Mitch is meeting some thresholds here,” Baldelli said.

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