Byron Buxton one-hopped a double off the left field wall Tuesday and C.J. Cron raced around the bases. If it had been the other way around, the score probably would have been tied.
But no other ballplayer possesses Buxton’s track-meet speed, and the Blue Jays defense was perfect. Cron was tagged out, the game was over, and the Twins had no regrets about their 6-5 loss to Toronto.
“We’re going to take that chance every time,” manager Rocco Baldelli said about the game’s final play. “Cronie, he was hauling. He gave us an opportunity to send him, they made a good relay and ultimately a good throw to the plate, and got us. It was a well-executed play, and the right move on our part, too.”
The Twins had already rallied to tie the score once, thanks to an upper-deck blast by Eddie Rosario three innings earlier, and they nearly managed it again off Toronto closer Ken Giles, who took the mound in the ninth with a two-run lead. But Marwin Gonzalez smashed his first home run as a Twin, cutting the deficit to one, and Giles walked Nelson Cruz.
After C.J. Cron hit into a force out but beat the double-play relay, and Mitch Garver struck out on a checked swing, Buxton lined a double into the left-field corner. Cron hustled around second base and picked up the sign from third base coach Tony Diaz: Go.
But left fielder Teoscar Hernandez picked up the ball cleanly as it rebounded off the wall, and he fired a perfect throw to shortstop Freddy Galvis, whose relay home gave catcher Danny Jansen time to drop to the ground and tag Cron.
“I was looking at [Max] Kepler, [who] was telling me to slide to the outside. I didn’t know, necessarily, where the ball was,” Cron said. “[Jansen] did a good job, Galvis did a good job, Teoscar did a good job. They just did a good job. Nothing you can do.”
Nothing but lay on his back in disappointment.
“I was trying to just run as fast as I could,” Cron said. “It was just a good relay, and I was out by a little bit.
“That’s just how baseball is.”
So it seems, particularly when an AL East team is involved. After an optimism-raising 8-4 start to the season, the Twins now own a two-game losing streak for the first time this season, and it’s hardly a surprise that an AL East team is the reason. The top four most successful AL teams in Target Field’s 10-year history are all from the East, with the Jays improving to 22-11 all-time with Tuesday’s victory.
For the second consecutive night Toronto rallied against the Twins bullpen, and for the second consecutive night it was Hernandez doing the damage. When reliever Trevor May issued back-to-back walks to load the bases in a tie game in the seventh, Baldelli signaled for Trevor Hildenberger, who has made a specialty of wriggling out of bases-occupied jams so far this year. The sidearmer threw only one pitch, but Hernandez lined it into left-center, scoring two runs before Smoak was caught in a rundown for the third out.
The loss was particularly disappointing, given Kyle Gibson’s start. The righthander cruised through five innings, giving up only a single and two walks. But he suddenly became hittable in the sixth, giving up three more hits and a four-run inning that staked Toronto to its first lead. Rosario erased that with one swing off Aaron Sanchez in the bottom of the inning, his fourth home run of the year.