Originally posted on Fox Sports North  |  Last updated 5/30/12
MINNEAPOLIS Cole De Vries already had his first major league start out of the way, so you would assume some of the nerves were gone as the Eden Prairie native and former Minnesota Gophers pitcher made his Target Field debut on Tuesday. Not so. De Vries, making his second start with the Twins, was all over the place in Minnesota's 3-2 win over Oakland. The 27-year-old right-hander walked the leadoff batters in the first and third innings and hit Seth Smith to start the second inning. In all, he finished the game with five walks and a hit batter. Safe to say the nerves were still there as De Vries pitched in front of his hometown fans, and he was the first to admit as much."I was fairly composed during my bullpen," De Vries said. "I could tell that I was a little amped up, but then I went and sat down for a little while. When I started to walk out to the mound, boom, right through the ceiling. I was like, All right. Let's calm down a little bit.'"De Vries eventually did calm down, pitching a 1-2-3 fifth inning after inducing three fly ball outs. But his day was done after five innings and 92 pitches (51 strikes). As erratic as De Vries was, though, he surprisingly exited with the game scoreless after five innings. "Cole was misfiring all over the place but yet no one was scoring," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He got through five. It wasn't pretty and he didn't attack the strike zone like he's capable of. He didn't do that, but he made it work somehow or another where he didn't give up anything."De Vries was helped out by a Twins defense that turned a season-high four double plays one day earlier. Heading into Tuesday's game, Minnesota led the majors with 69 double plays turned.It took the Twins just two batters to bump that number to 70, as De Vries got Oakland's Collin Cowgill to ground to third for a double play after he walked Jermile Weeks to start the game. The same scenario played out one inning later. After De Vries hit Smith, Brandon Inge grounded into a 5-4-3 double play, the second turned in as many innings by Minnesota's defense."I thought that was huge for myself, getting those ground balls and getting those double plays when I needed to," De Vries said. " Whenever someone gets on first base, especially with how we've been playing lately, let them hit it on the ground, see what those guys can do. They did a great job turning those two for me today."When it was all said and done, De Vries went five scoreless innings and allowed just two hits but of course issued five walks and hit a batter. His only strikeout came in the top of the first inning as he got Josh Reddick looking to end the inning.Gardenhire was asked after the game whether De Vries would get another start in Minnesota's rotation. His one-word response: "Sure." It's likely De Vries could be heading back to Triple-A Rochester once right-hander Nick Blackburn returns from his rehab assignment. For now, though De Vries would be in line to pitch Monday in Kansas City.If he does get that chance, he knows he'll have plenty to fix from his first two outings. His MLB debut last week against the White Sox lasted five innings, and he gave up six runs (three earned) on six hits, including three home runs.It wasn't the hits that did him in Tuesday, but rather the walks, which strayed from what he had done in the minors that led to his call-up. In eight starts with Rochester this season before his promotion, De Vries averaged just 1.4 walks per nine innings, the lowest ratio of his career."I know he's trying, and he's trying to be too careful. You have to attack the strike zone. That's what he did in the minor leagues," Gardenhire said. " He's better than that, and he can attack the strike zone better. That's way too many pitches in a short outing like that. He did some damage control, but he's still got to attack the strike zone."De Vries walked a tightrope Tuesday without completely falling off, but he certainly wobbled as he allowed eight base runners in five innings. The fact that none of the eight came around to score showed that De Vries was able to work out of trouble, but that approach won't always work at the major league level."I did a good job of getting myself out of jams today, but you can get burned in some of those situations," De Vries said. "I'm going to try and limit those for my next start."Added Gardenhire: "Fortunately for us, he kept them from touching home plate, which is incredible."Follow Tyler Mason on Twitter.
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