Twins lose to Texas as bats go quiet once again

Published 10:31 pm Friday, June 22, 2018

By Phil Miller, Minneapolis Star Tribune


If defenses could score, like they can in football, the Twins may have won Friday’s game. They executed over-the-shoulder catches on the run, short-hop scoops, catch-and-throw pickups and a sensational dive-and-flip double play.

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Give them plenty of style points, for sure. Just not enough runs.

One day after going down in order in five straight innings and eking out a mere four hits, the Twins upped the ante with seven 1-2-3 innings in the first six and collected only three hits, continuing the offensive drought that led to a 8-1 loss to the Texas Rangers.

The loss dropped the Twins 6 1/2 games behind Cleveland in the AL Central.

Fernando Romero allowed four runs over six innings, surrendering three straight singles in the fourth inning to ignite one Texas rally. A two-run homer by Shin-Soo Choo in the fifth provided Texas a four-run cushion.

Max Kepler doubled into the left-field corner in the sixth inning and scored the Twins’ lone run when Joe Mauer hit a line drive to nearly the same spot. But the only other Minnesota baserunner in the first eight innings was Brian Dozier, who singled in the first inning, and was thrown out trying to stretch that hit into a double.

That defensive play, by Texas outfielder Joey Gallo, may have set the tone for the night, because the defense was tight.

Taylor Motter, filling in for Eduardo Escobar repaid Gallo by racing into foul territory in short left field and snagging a ball, back to the plate, as it flew over his head. Motter also foiled a DeLino DeShields bunt in the seventh inning, picking it up and throwing in one motion. Two batters later, Dozier ended a tense bases-loaded jam for Addison Reed by diving for an Elvis Andrus line drive, then using his glove to flip the ball to Ehire Adrianza to double up Ronald Guzman while lying on the ground.

But none of the defense will matter if the Twins can’t generate more offense. They already have been limited to fewer than a half-dozen hits five times in June.

• Eduardo Escobar hit a couple of home runs in batting practice, then walked over to a group of fans, flexed his right biceps, and said, “You see? Strong.” So his bruised elbow clearly improved overnight. Some stiffness remains, though, so Molitor decided to keep the third baseman on the bench another day, until called upon to pinch-hit in the eight inning. He struck out.

“I’m fairly optimistic,” Molitor said, that Escobar will start Saturday. Eddie Rosario, meanwhile, returned to the lineup after sitting out Thursday with a sore right shoulder.

• Ervin Santana threw roughly 35 pitches to hitters Friday in Fort Myers, and among them was Jorge Polanco. That’s a step forward for both missing Twins, given that they have been sidelined by finger injuries for longer than the team had hoped. Santana, still working his way back from February finger surgery, may be nearing the point where he can pitch minor-league games and begin building his arm up for a return to Minnesota, which now appears inevitably after the All-Star break. He will throw again on Monday.

Polanco’s return is much closer: He must be placed on the Twins’ 25-man (and 40-man) roster on July 2, when his 80-game steroids suspension expires, or go on the disabled list.