Joe Mauer found out what the remainder of an announced crowd of 26,472 at Target Field thought about his 0-for-4 performance during his final at-bat on Wednesday night.
With Eduardo Escobar on third base as the potential tying run, Mauer struck out swinging against left-handed reliever Neal Cotts to end the seventh inning.
Mauer walked back to the dugout to loud boos, and the Twins went on to lose to the Texas Rangers 1-0. The Twins went 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position, and they are 3-for-41 (.073) in those situations since May 23.
“Runs were at a premium and it was tough,” Mauer said. “I’m probably a lot more frustrated than those people that were booing.”
Mauer is 8-for-32 over his past eight games. During this series, he’s 2-for-12 with one RBI.
“I’m feeling pretty good actually, which is even more frustrating,” Mauer said. “I’m hitting a lot of balls hard and just not having much to show for it. Hopefully that turns here soon.”
Rangers starter Joe Saunders pitched five shutout innings. He got out of trouble in the first when Trevor Plouffe and Oswaldo Arcia struck out swinging to strand Brian Dozier on third after a leadoff double.
“We had chances early in the game to get a run in or plus, and we didn’t,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “They made enough pitches and then it was one of those cat-and-mouse things after that.”
The Twins finished with more strikeouts against Saunders (six) than hits (five). It was Saunders’ second start this season and the first since he was placed on the disabled list on April 7 because of a stress fracture in his left ankle.
The lack of run support squandered Kyle Gibson’s fifth quality start this season. In six scoreless innings, he gave up six hits and tied a season high with four strikeouts. Gibson has a 1.85 ERA in five home starts this season with a 3-1 record after the no-decision. He is 1-3 with a 7.77 ERA away from Target Field.
“Whether it’s the road fans or whatever it is, I just don’t execute as well in some of those big situations,” Gibson said. “I definitely love pitching here. There’s no doubt about that, but I don’t know if there’s that big of a difference to have that big of a split.”
Jared Burton received the loss after allowing the game’s only run in the seventh. Leonys Martin reached first with a bunt single. Martin then stole second, which was upheld after Gardenhire’s challenge, and scored on Luis Sardinas’ two-out RBI single to left field.
“I was looking for a good pitch to hit and drive up the middle,” Sardinas said. “I got it late, but I still got it.”
Tolleson got the victory, pitching 1 ⅔ scoreless innings in relief. Closer Joakim Soria recorded his ninth save after blowing his first save this season on Tuesday.
The Twins are 9-6 in one-run games this season. Over the past six games against the Rangers and Giants, they have scored only nine runs.
“It’s frustrating not scoring runs like tonight,” Mauer said. “But it’s frustrating when you square a couple balls up and they don’t fall.
‘‘But you just got to keep working at it.”