Lance Lynn has pitched eight consecutive scoreless innings, including all five he pitched on Monday. Man, it must be nice to be on a hot streak already, right?
“No. It feels miserable,” Lynn said after the Twins’ 2-0 loss to the Astros. “I feel like I’ve got off to the worst start I’ve ever got off to in a big-league season. Yeah, it needs to change real quick.”
Eddie Rosario knows how he feels.
In a what-next kind of night that only added to 10 days of frustration, Rosario missed two plays in the outfield that resulted in runs, then swung at the first pitch and made the final out in both the sixth and eighth innings, snuffing the Twins’ best scoring chances. Combine that with a vintage performance by Justin Verlander, the most prolific Twin killer of the past decade, and Minnesota’s first shutout loss in Target Field since last June 22 seemed almost inevitable.
“Justin, his ability to have another gear when things get a little bit more [dangerous] with traffic on the bases” is the trait of a former MVP and a two-time Cy Young winner, said Twins manager Paul Molitor. “We gave ourselves an opportunity but we couldn’t get a big hit.”
Rosario had a couple of chances, but his frustration over starting the season 6-for-30 has boiled over in demonstrations on the field — he threw his helmet 20 feet after ending the eighth inning with a double play — and overaggressiveness at the plate. Rosario, always the most aggressive of Twins hitters, swung at six of the eight pitches he saw on Monday, and never got the ball out of the infield.
“He’s going to swing,” Molitor said. “I was hoping they’d throw him a strike, because I had a feeling he’d be swinging” in the eighth inning, when the bases were loaded with one out. “He expanded [the strike zone] a little bit, and they got the double play.”
Rosario said there was more to the at-bat than simple aggression, though. Chris Devenski he knew, would throw him a changeup, and he was right. “I told myself, ‘I want to try to hit a changeup, try to hit into the middle,’ ” Rosario said. “Sometimes that happens. That’s baseball.”
So is trying to make a sliding catch of a J.D. Davis liner in left field, a ball that bounced past him and allowed Carlos Correa to score the game’s first run. And in the eighth, Rosario couldn’t catch up to a Marwin Gonzalez fly ball off the left field fence, allowing Correa to score from first.
But this is truly Twins baseball: Getting beat by Verlander. The future Hall of Famer is now 7-1 with a 2.47 ERA in Target Field, and he owns 18 career victories over the Twins, more than anyone in the past dozen years.
The former Tiger struck out nine, held the Twins to just three hits, and walked only one in seven strong but freezing innings. When the first two batters reached in the sixth inning Verlander simply struck out Joe Mauer, struck out Miguel Sano, and got Rosario to pop up.
All of which made Lynn feel like his five innings, even with nine strikeouts, weren’t enough.
“That’s not good enough. The strikeouts are good, the walks are too many,” said Lynn, who pitched in mid-30s temperatures. Was the cold a problem?
“He pitched in it too and got through seven, right?” Lynn said of Verlander. “I didn’t do my job.”