Part of the reason the start of the season has gone so well for the Minnesota Twins is the remarkable performance of the starting rotation. From top to bottom -- Pablo Lopez to Kenta Maeda -- there hasn't been much to complain about, which is outstanding considering where things were last year.
Things haven't been perfect, though, and the Twins hit a bit of a snag on Thursday in Boston.
Maeda was on the mound for the series finale against the Red Sox but only managed to make it two innings before needing to come out of the game. It wasn't performance-based, but rather a line drive off the bat of Jarren Duran hit Maeda in the ankle.
Somehow he managed to record the out and end the inning, but it was also the end of Maeda's day at Fenway. Emilio Pagán came in for the third inning and proceeded to get shelled for six runs on seven hits.
Pagán wasn't the only Twins pitcher to get rocked by the Sox, but he was the one who got rocked the hardest. Jovani Moran and Jorege Alcala also gave up runs, but together they allowed a combined four earned runs.
Needless to say, the game was over before it even had a chance to start. Pagán inherited a one-run deficit thanks to Maeda allowing a solo home run to Alex Verdugo in the first inning, but things couldn't have gone more aggressively downhill for the Twins than they did after Pagán entered the game.
Rocco Baldelli defends Emilio Pagán after allowing six runs to Red Sox
After the 11-5 loss, Twins manager Rocco Baldelli commented on the rough outing and seemed to defend his reliever despite the poor performance.
"Well, it didn't go his way," Baldelli said when asked what went wrong with Pagán's relief appearance. "He didn't pitch as well as he needed to, and I think he knows it. It was obviously a very tough inning, and the after throwing 30 pitches we needed him to go back out there. We had too many innings we needed to cover."
Baldelli did make sure to note that Pagán had plenty of time to warm up after the sudden injury to Maeda, and that wasn't the reason for his performance. He also seemed to commend Pagán for being able to step in and then continue to pitch despite getting rocked in the third.
"He just put his head down and did what he was supposed to do, and did his job," Baldelli said. "I know that's a difficult spot to be in, to be going back out there after throwing a ton of pitches and probably being a little gassed. He knew that we needed him to keep going."
Minnesota's bullpen has gone through a bit of a rough patch during the team's series in Boston. Moran blew a save in the first game back on Tuesday, and Pagán getting lit up on Thursday isn't exactly the way the team wanted to close out the series.
It was an overall bad day for every Twins pitcher, but outside of Maeda being injured, no pitcher had a tougher day than Pagán.