Brian Dozier, as he said goodbye to his Twins teammates on Tuesday before joining a World Series quest in Los Angeles, left instructions.
“I made a point to tell each and every one of them to not let down their guard,” Dozier said. “It might be a long shot but try to fight back in it.”
The winning-to-spite-the-front-office-selloff approach is one way for a team that has had five players dealt away over a span of five days to move forward. Some of the remaining players have expressed their disappointment in the decision to harvest the roster.
That could be used as a rallying cry.
“We owe it to the guys who got traded away,” righthander Kyle Gibson said. “The one thing Dozier told me was, ‘Hey, don’t let these guys quit.’”
So the Twins battled with what they had on Wednesday, but lost 2-0 to Cleveland at Target Field to drop two of three games to the Indians, who will have no problem strolling to the AL Central title. Cleveland is 10 games ahead of the second-place Twins.
“Just not enough offense and a couple missed plays on the defensive side,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said.
There are two months left in the season, and the dog days of summer can arrive quickly for playoff non-contenders. Quit is a four-letter word that teams like to avoid, so Molitor felt it was necessary to speak to the club before Tuesday’s game about finishing the season strong.
“You do the best you can,” Molitor said. “Everybody probably looks at it little bit differently in terms of how they digest the 20 percent turnover on the 25-man. Yeah, you know, you try to help them return their focus to where it needs to be. They’re going to talk and have an influence on leadership and you walk down on that field and all you can is go out there. But that’s how it always is.”
The Twins, shut out for the fifth time this season, mustered only five hits against an electric Carlos Carrasco and Chaska’s own Brad Hand, a recent acquisition from the Padres, who got the save. Hand got newly acquired Logan Forsythe to ground into a double play nicely started by Francisco Lindor to end a threat in the eighth inning, then struck out Logan Morrison after Jorge Polanco’s two-out bunt single in the ninth to end the game.
The big man, however, struck out to end the three hour, three minute game.
The Twins are 1-5 since the purge began, and the offense — minus Dozier and Escobar — has taken a hit.
Carrasco (13-5) was the main reason Wednesday. He piled up five 1-2-3 innings and left the game with one out in the eighth with 10 strikeouts. Cleveland wasn’t in total control because Twins lefthander Adalberto Mejia, who pitched three shutout innings Sunday, tossed five more Wednesday.
Joe Mauer’s two out triple in the sixth was the only time a Twins player got past second base.
The Indians scored a run in the sixth on a double steal attempt off losing pitcher Matt Magill, as Rajai Davis scored from third while Jose Ramirez was thrown out at second.
Cleveland added an unearned run in the ninth against Fernando Rodney. Leonys Martin singled off Miguel Sano’s glove, then Yonder Alonso reached when Polanco missed Sano’s throw at second during an attempted force play. Yan Gomes followed with a bloop single to left-center over a drawn-in infield.
The Twins have an off day Thursday, and Molitor hopes his talk helps and the team is focused on Friday following trade deadline anxiety.
“Sometimes it feels a little more heightened because of the recent transactions,” Molitor said. “I thought I had to go out and give my perspective on what happened. I think some guys embrace that and I think some guys might not even hear it. You’re never quite sure. We’ll see how they react in the upcoming days.”