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Leonys Martin slid home safe past the tag of Twins Catcher Josmil Pinto for the winning run in the 8th inning.

Bruce Bisping, DML - Star Tribune

Twins miss chances in another one-run loss to Texas

  • Article by: Amelia Rayno
  • Star Tribune
  • May 30, 2014 - 8:52 AM

For a second, the pitch looked as fat as a grapefruit.

Brian Dozier saw the four-seam fastball coming out of Jason Frasor’s hand as clear as the immaculate Minneapolis afternoon. Right where he wanted it. Practically begging to have its seams ripped off.

And then, he hesitated.

“I kind of got big-eyed, so to speak,” he said, “trying to do a little too much.”

Dozier paused in his swing, ever so slightly, and foul-tipped the ball straight into the catcher’s glove to end the eighth inning with a strikeout. Before heading back to the dugout, he punished the batter’s box dirt with his bat.

Such is life for the Twins right now. Ample opportunities. Ample desire. Skimpy results.

Four batters and three outs later, the Twins were again out of chances, losing their second consecutive one-run game, 5-4 to Texas, and staring down the barrel of a bona fide slump.

How many ways are there to describe the mess? Dropping three of four to the Rangers marked the Twins’ first four-game series loss at Target Field since last season. Minnesota, now 24-27 and sinking further away from .500, has lost six of its past seven games. The Twins were 3-for-11 with men in scoring position, and are 6-for-52 (.115) in the past seven games.

Joe Mauer, the home-state poster boy and traditional Twins saver, is looking like a stranger. After managing one hit in five at-bats Thursday, the catcher-turned-first-baseman is hitting only .200 (5-for-25) in his past six games.

What a time to embark on a five-game road trip against two of the top 10 teams in baseball: the Yankees and Brewers.

“Guys want to win,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “We’ve seen the losing part of it long enough around here and we feel pretty good about ourselves, but these games are the ones that kind of make or break you … and we’ve got to figure out a way to do a better job.”

Thursday, righthander Samuel Deduno displayed stretches of savvy, keeping hitters off balance with his unusual sinking fastball and facing four batters or fewer in three of his 5⅓ innings. But as has been the tired story line, a handful of mistakes and two big hits unraveled an otherwise solid performance.

After a paradoxical second inning, it looked like more of the same for a Twins team that has made scoring runs look like slicing through a boulder with a nail file. Both teams loaded the bases, but only one took advantage. With the table set before him, Rangers designated hitter Shin-Soo Choo drilled a curveball down the left field line for a three-run double to stick Minnesota in a hole that felt more like a crater in current conditions.

In the bottom half, the Twins flunked the same opportunity. The hot-hitting Oswaldo Arcia smacked a double to start the inning and Josh Willingham and Jason Kubel followed with walks to fill the bases. Yet the combination of Josmil Pinto’s comebacker to pitcher Nick Martinez — who got the easy out at home — and Eduardo Escobar hitting sharply into a double play left the home team with nothing to show for its chances.

“When you lose one-run ballgames, you look back at the opportunities that you had to get just one run,” Dozier said. “There were a couple of times today and a couple of times this whole series, each game, runner at third base, less than two outs and we didn’t get it in.”

Later, Minnesota found some production, sparked by the return of outfielders Arcia and Willingham. These days, four-run games feel like something of an avalanche. But two-run innings in the third and fifth — Willingham’s 436-foot blast in the fifth momentarily earning the Twins a 4-3 lead — were quickly negated.

Deduno missed on a pair of pitches to Martin (double) and Robinson Chirinos (RBI single) in the sixth to tie the score, and one more run in the eighth was all the Rangers would need.

“No way, I’m not OK,” said Deduno of the effort. “I think the team gave me a chance to win the game today — four runs. I have to be better. I know I have to be better.”







 

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