Oswaldo Arcia’s three-run homer with two outs in the ninth jolted the Twins back into contention, but the rally ended there as they lost 4-3 on Friday to the Rangers at Target Field.
It goes down as just a one-run loss — but what a lopsided one-run game it was.
The two strong suits of this Twins team are supposed to be the offense and the glovework. But deficiencies in both areas on Friday put them in a hole early. With the Twins chasing after balls all over the diamond and failing to muster any offense, they seemed farther out than just a few runs. Texas went on to win for the second consecutive night and beat the Twins for the 10th time in the last 12 meetings.
“We made some good [plays],” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “We also had a snowball fight out there where the ball was going all over the place, and you have to kind of calm down on those things.”
Snowball? The first glorious weather of 2013 was ruined by the Twins chasing baseballs all over Target Field.
Lance Berkman drove in the Rangers’ first run with a double in the first inning — legging out the extra base when Aaron Hicks’ throw from center was well off the bag. Sure enough, Berkman scored on Nelson Cruz’s double to make it 2-0. Texas has an impressive lineup but they also are aggressive on the base paths, forcing teams to execute or pay.
Geovanny Soto was given a single to left in the second inning, but Twins third baseman Trevor Plouffe made a meal out of the grounder, backing up on it before stabbing at it and missing. That potential run was erased when Soto tried to score from first on Mitch Moreland’s double. Hicks threw a perfect strike to relay man Pedro Florimon, whose throw home allowed Joe Mauer to tag Soto just before he reached the plate.
The Twins were at it again in the third when Elvis Andrus attempted to advance from first to third on Berkman’s single to right. Chris Parmelee’s throw appeared to slice by Plouffe at third, and Andrus took off for home. Plouffe, however, got a favorable bounce off the wall and was able to throw Andrus out at home.
The Rangers’ next run was legitimate, as Adrian Beltre smashed a Scott Diamond curveball 419 feet to center in the sixth inning for his fourth home run of the year and a 3-0 Texas lead. Ian Kinsler’s RBI double in the ninth off Ryan Pressly made it 4-0.
Diamond, 1-2, lasted 6 ½ innings, giving up three runs on 12 hits — a career high — while striking out four.
“It was definitely frustrating in the first inning but I was able to battle from there,” Diamond said. “Didn’t have my best stuff but was able to work with it.”
For the second night in a row, a Rangers rookie curve baller stymied the Twins, as righthander Justin Grimm shut them out for seven innings on five hits. Grimm and Thursday’s winning pitcher, righthander Nick Tepesch, were Texas’ seventh and eighth options at the start of spring training. They have not pitched like seventh and eighth options.
“We got behind early and it was an uphill battle all night,” Gardenhire said. “Their young man threw the ball very well against us, used all his pitches. Scotty gave up a lot of hits but really never broke, and hung in there.’’