Minnesota Twins’ Doug Bernier bunted against Cleveland starting pitcher Scott Kazmir to drive in a run in the fifth inning on Sunday, Aug. 25, 2013, in Cleveland. Bernier reached first safely for a single.
Mark Duncan • Associated Press,
Twins squander chance after chance in loss to Cleveland
- Article by: La Velle E. Neal III
- Star Tribune
- August 26, 2013 - 12:00 PM
CLEVELAND – Postgame in manager Ron Gardenhire’s office was more entertaining than the 3 hours and 30 minutes of bad baseball that preceded it.
Gardenhire, toward the end of his session, paced back and forth, rubbed his head and asked himself the same question in several ways, changing an adjective here and there.
“How did that game happen?’’ he wondered.
Cleveland scored twice in the eighth inning Sunday to win 3-1, but they can’t be proud of some of the things that went on. The Indians committed four errors, and it could have been five. They botched a rundown involving Josh Willingham, who rumbles more than he runs. Their pitchers botched two pickoff throws.
It’s a relief when a team wins an ugly game. For the team that loses, there’s extra agony. And the Twins went home muttering to themselves after going 3-3 on a road trip that should have ended 4-2.
The Twins wasted the extra outs they were given. They were 3-for-19, with seven strikeouts, with runners in scoring position.
They had runners on first and third with no outs in the seventh with the heart of the order up. Willingham popped out. Ryan Doumit and Trevor Plouffe struck out.
“A lot of strikeouts in big situations where you only needed contact to get a run in, and we couldn’t get it done,’’ Gardenhire said.
A Cleveland-based reporter then asked if the players are pressing in those situations.
“You haven’t been watching us very long,’’ Gardenhire replied. “We have watched this a lot. That’s been our Achilles’ heel, as they say. R-I-S-P hasn’t been a very good stat for us.’’
In addition to shaky starting pitching, run production has been the story of the Twins’ season. The Twins entered Sunday batting .229 with runners in scoring position, worst in the American League. They batted .200 in such situations on the road trip.
Doug Bernier reached base twice Sunday by bunting. His bunt in the fifth inning allowed Clete Thomas to dash home with the Twins’ only run. He reached base by bunting in the seventh but tumbled over first baseman Nick Swisher, who charged in to field the ball and had it clang off his glove just before Bernier tripped over him.
The Twins should stick with the bunt offense. It’s when they make the most contact.
Twins righthander Mike Pelfrey gave up two hits but walked six batters during a five-inning stint. He pitched out of jams in the third and fifth innings and tried to make a case to pitch the sixth but still was removed.
He looked sharp for two innings before falling apart, yet he held the Indians to one earned run.
Despite the blunders at the plate, the Twins were in this one until the eighth, when Drew Stubbs hit a home run and Swisher added an RBI single.
“We played pretty good against some good teams on this road trip,’’ Pelfrey said. ‘I wish [Sunday] would have been a little different.’’
After taking two of three at AL Central-leading Detroit, the Twins had chance after chance to win two of three against Cleveland. But they refused to take Sunday’s game when it was offered to them.
And that led to Gardenhire pacing in his office, shaking his head.
“I don’t know who was supposed to win the game,’’ he said. “I know they won it with a couple hits, but I don’t know who was supposed to win. It sounds like we were. When you make four errors, you are not supposed to win.’’
© 2013 Star Tribune