Twins can’t take advantage of opportunities in loss

Published 9:11 am Monday, August 26, 2013

CLEVELAND — It’s easy to see why Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire wasn’t happy following Sunday’s loss to Cleveland.

The Indians tried to give the game away by committing four errors and making numerous other mistakes, but the Twins couldn’t take advantage, ending their road trip on a sour note with a 3-1 defeat.

“I don’t know who was supposed to win the game,” Gardenhire said. “I know they won it with a couple of hits, but I don’t know who was supposed to win. Sounds like we were. You make four errors, you’re not supposed to win.”

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The box score will say the Twins lost the game when Jared Burton (2-7) gave up a two-out homer in the eighth inning to Drew Stubbs that broke a 1-all tie, but missed opportunities told the real story. The Twins struck out 12 times, stranded 13 runners and went 3 for 19 with runners in scoring position.

Sunday ended a stretch in which Minnesota played 27 games in 27 days, but Gardenhire wasn’t ready to use it as an excuse for the team’s inconsistent performance.

“I don’t know if that’s because we’re in such a grind right now when you’re playing this many games in a row,” he said. “Guys are a little worn out, but every team is in the same boat.”

The Twins wasted leadoff doubles in the fourth and sixth innings, while leaving the bases loaded after scoring their only run in the fifth.

Cleveland’s shoddy defense gave the Twins plenty of chances. Pitchers Scott Kazmir and Cody Allen and shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera had throwing errors while second baseman Jason Kipnis dropped a soft line drive.

However, the game was still tied when Stubbs unloaded off Burton. The Indians added a run on Nick Swisher’s RBI single before turning it over to closer Chris Perez in the ninth, who secured his 21st save of the season. Joe Smith (5-1) pitched the eighth.

The Twins came to town with some momentum after taking two of three from Detroit, which leads the American League Central. Minnesota won the opener of this series, but dropped Saturday’s game 7-2.

Pelfrey, making his 24th start of the season, is accustomed to a lack of run support. The Twins have scored three runs or less 17 times when the right-hander has been on the mound. Pelfrey has gone 1-9 with a 5.46 ERA in those games. In his other seven starts, he’s 4-1 with a 4.20 ERA.

Pelfrey was unable to notch his third consecutive quality start, but he did go five innings, giving up one run on two hits and striking out three while walking six.

“Way too many walks. It’s pretty embarrassing, to go out there and walk six guys,” he said. “I thought it was a wasted day. Obviously I had good movement and I had good stuff. The velocity was there. I just couldn’t throw it over the plate.”

Despite the walks, Pelfrey was mostly able to stay out of trouble. The Indians’ only run against him came on a bloop single to left by Kipnis in the third inning. The run was set up by walks to Stubbs and Swisher.

“That really chapped me,” Pelfrey said.

Just as the Indians struggled against Pelfrey, so too did the Twins hitters against Cleveland’s Scott Kazmir. He gave up seven hits but struck out eight, and the Twins’ only run against him came on a safety squeeze in the fifth inning, which was aided by Cleveland’s defense.

Clete Thomas led off with a single, took second on a sacrifice and moved to third on Brian Dozier’s single. Thomas scored when Doug Bernier pushed a bunt to the right side of the mound. Swisher fielded the ball, but no one covered first and Bernier reached with a single.

Josh Willingham struck out, but Ryan Doumit walked to load the bases. The inning finally ended when Trevor Plouffe lined out to third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall.

Monday is an off-day for the Twins, and they will play a brief three-game homestand against Kansas City before leaving for a six-game road trip against the Texas Rangers and Houston Astros.

“I think those days are going to go pretty quick at home,” Gardenhire said.

NOTES: Twins assistant general manager Rob Antony said that All-Star C Joe Mauer (concussion) is resting at home and is expected to return to Target Field on Tuesday when the team begins a brief three-game homestand against Kansas City. Mauer is on the seven-day concussion list, but it’s likely he won’t be activated until the end of the week at the earliest. … Morneau wasn’t in the lineup against Kazmir. He pinch-hit in the eighth and reached on Kipnis’ error… RHP Josh Tomlin, who is attempting to come back from Tommy John surgery, was activated from the 60-day disabled list and optioned to Triple-A Columbus. He is expected to rejoin the Indians when rosters are expanded in September.