CLEVELAND – The Twins hit four home runs Friday, but it wasn’t enough. They got a clutch hit in the eighth inning to take a lead, only to get outdone in the bottom of the inning.
And they went with their most dominant reliever to try to hold that late lead, but he fell apart.
They can’t explain it. The solution to the problems remains elusive after a 7-6 loss to the Indians at Progressive Field, the Twins’ latest crushing defeat.
“I’m asking you. We’re asking everybody,” second baseman Brian Dozier said in the middle of a stone-cold quiet Twins clubhouse. “We have to find something where [we get] that one win.
“It’s testing us, man. It’s testing every single one of us. Our character, how we play the game. We have to find something. Dig deep. Keep grinding.”
Their losing streak is up to eight games, one shy of their season-opening nine-game skid. They fell to an abysmal 2-16 on the road. They are 4-8 in one-run games. Nothing is working.
Eduardo Nunez broke a 4-4 tie in the eighth with a solo home run off reliever Bryan Shaw. Righthander Trevor May, on a streak of nine scoreless innings, came on in the bottom of the inning.
Francisco Lindor led off with a single. Mike Napoli struck out. With Jose Ramirez batting, Lindor stole second. Ramirez walked on the next pitch.
“That walk to Ramirez really hurt,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said.
Marlon Byrd came to the plate and hammered a May pitch to dead center field. Danny Santana sprinted back, but the ball landed just out of his reach for a two-run double. Juan Uribe added a single to push Cleveland’s lead to 7-5.
In the ninth with Cleveland closer Cody Allen pitching, Danny Santana led off with a double and went to third on an error, and after Joe Mauer popped out, Nunez came through with a one-out RBI single. Nunez then stole second, but Miguel Sano struck out for the second out. Trevor Plouffe drew a walk, bringing Byung Ho Park to the plate already with two home runs in the game.
The big hit the Twins so desperately needed?
Park smacked a 2-1 curveball down the left field line that landed a couple feet foul. He threw his head back in frustration at the missed opportunity. The next pitch was a fastball that blew by a swinging Park, and the game was over.
“When I fouled the curveball off my timing was pretty good, so I should be expecting something harder,” Park said. “He threw a fastball and my timing was off. He beat me.”
Homers from Sano — whose first inning blast was estimated by MLB.com’s statcast at 464 feet, the fourth longest in the majors this season — and Park gave the Twins a 2-0 lead.
But Yan Gomes hit a two-run homer off Ricky Nolasco in the bottom of the second to tie the score. Park’s two-run shot in the third made it 4-2.
Jason Kipnis cut the Twins’ lead to 4-3 in the third inning with a solo shot, and Byrd tied it in the sixth with a bases-loaded sacrifice fly that Sano made a nice running catch on in right field.
The Twins failed to do more damage when they had the bases loaded with two outs in the second, and again with one out in the eighth. Funny how that comes back to bite a team.
Especially one that’s 8-26.
“We need to get some results pretty soon,” Nolasco said. “This is getting pretty ugly.”