NEW YORK – It’s getting so bad for the Twins, Justin Morneau doesn’t want kids watching anymore.
Morneau illustrated the Twins’ irritation perfectly in the seventh inning, when he was called out on a checked swing with runners on second and third. He flipped his bat, cursed at umpire Lance Barksdale, and slammed his helmet to the ground — a fitting tantrum for the Twins’ 12th loss in 13 games, 2-0 to the Yankees.
“I guess it’s just frustration boiling over, frustration over the [1-7] road trip, of another at-bat leaving runners in scoring position,” Morneau said, though it’s not like he’s the only culprit — the Twins were 0-for-12 with runners on second or third on a rainy Friday night in Yankee Stadium.
“That’s something that shouldn’t happen. There’s a lot of kids that watch, and if it’s my kid out there, I don’t want to see him throwing his helmet in Little League.”
It’s a wonder the Twins don’t take bats to their team bus these days, though. They’ve lost seven in a row, fallen 16 games below .500, and 13 games out of first place in the AL Central.
“This hasn’t been a fun time,” said Morneau, who never had thrown equipment on the field before. “We got off to a decent start, and now we’ve kind of dug ourselves a hole again these last few weeks.”
Frustration is rampant. The Twins are 19-for-107 (.178) with runners in scoring position in the past 13 games, and have been shut out twice. Oswaldo Arcia has struck out seven consecutive times, and 11 times in his past 13 at-bats.
And Minnesota has lost seven in a row to the Yankees, too — mostly because of Robinson Cano. After the Yankees’ All-Star second baseman chewed them up in Target Field last week by going 7-for-15 with three home runs, the Twins vowed to pitch around him, and starter Scott Diamond walked him twice. But Diamond was out after a 73-minute rain delay in the fourth inning, and Brian Duensing got a pitch up to Cano with Brett Gardner on third. Cano slapped it into center for the Yankees’ second run, and the Twins’ night was basically over.
All that was left was the equipment throwing. Morneau said Barksdale warned him that he had committed “an equipment violation, that’s all you got. If you want anything else, keep going,’’ he recounted. Pretty understanding umpire, right?
“He probably knew that I’d be more miserable finishing the game than sitting in here, out of the rain,” Morneau shrugged.
• Aaron Hicks made one of the most incredible plays of the season Friday — by accident. When Vernon Wells led off the sixth inning with a blast to the center field fence, Hicks took a couple of seconds to track the ball down, and Wells decided he could leg out a triple. But Hicks picked up the ball and threw it 350 feet or so to nail Wells at third — on the fly. “I was just trying to hit the cutoff man,” Hicks said, “but the ball was wet and slipped out of my hand.”
• Friday was the deadline for players drafted by major league teams to sign contracts, and the Twins added one player just in time. Seth Wagner, a lefthanded pitcher from Mifflin County High in Lewiston, Pa., reached an agreement with the Twins, turning down a scholarship offer to Penn State. Wagner, the Twins’ 39th-round pick, is 6-8 and 220 pounds.
• Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter strained his right quadriceps while making his 2013 debut Thursday, and he won’t play against the Twins this weekend. The Yankees said their shortstop, out all year because of a broken ankle, will be evaluated again after the All-Star break.