The final score was 10-3, but that’s deceiving — and incredibly frustrating to the Twins. See, not only did they rally from an early 2-0 deficit to tie the score 2-2 in the sixth, but they felt like the Marlins’ first two runs shouldn’t have happened. Here’s why:
— Ichiro Suzuki led off the game with a single, naturally, but after a fly out, he moved up to second on an errant pickoff throw by Ervin Santana. So when Christian Yelich hit what should have been an inning-ending double play to Eduardo Nunez at short, it turned into only the second out of the inning. Sure enough, Marcell Ozuna then doubled to center, and Ichiro scored.
— In the second inning, Santana got two quick outs, then gave up a single to J.T. Realmuto. As he went back to the mound, time had not been called, and Santana toed the rubber as though he was going to pitch out of the stretch. Then, realizing Realmuto was a catcher who didn’t need to be held on, Santana adjusted his feet, intending to pitch out of the windup instead. But since time wasn’t out, it was a balk — even though the next hitter, Adeiny Hechavarria hadn’t stepped into the box.
“I had Joe [bench coach Joe Vavra] go up and check between innings, because I didn’t see it,” manager Paul Molitor said. “I guess the ball was never put out of play after the base hit, and he straddled the rubber, and came off it with the wrong foot. It looked like it was a justifiable call.”
And a costly mistake, because Hechavarria followed with a soft single to right, scoring Realmuto. The Twins were down 2-0, and felt like the game should have been scoreless.
Then they rallied in the sixth, after starter Tom Koehler retired the first 17 Twins in order (well, sort of: Eduardo Nunez singled in the fourth, but was thrown out stealing). Byron Buxton singled, Nunez beat out an infield hit, and Robbie Grossman doubled both home, giving him 13 RBIs in just 18 games with the Twins.
So the Twins were feeling good, having tied the game, even though they could have been leading. And then one of their bad habits returned: Following up a good inning by giving the runs right back. They did it game after game in Oakland last week, and then against the Rays over the weekend.
Santana gave up one-out hits to Realmuto, Hechavarria and Ichiro, the last one breaking the tie and ending his night. Trevor May, who had faced only one batter since June 1, gave up two doubles, a single and a wild pitch, and the rout was on.
Was the down time, necessitated by a sore back, to blame for May’s rough night?
“I’m not sure,” Molitor said. “He was doing OK. I had a couple other options there. But not a lot.”