Yes, the Twins are playing with an injury-depleted roster. But that can’t be an excuse.
And grizzled veterans were just as much to blame as the greenhorns Saturday for one of the Twins’ most blunderful games of the year.
Christian Yelich’s home run to left-center in the eighth off Addison Reed was the decisive blow in the Twins’ 5-4 loss to the Brewers. The Twins, losers of five of their past six games, are in danger of being swept in the three-game series if they drop Sunday’s finale.
“When you are a little bit shorthanded and you are trying to find a way to hold your own or win your fair share of games, you have to make sure you are doing the little things in the game,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “And when you don’t, they are magnified, and they cost you opportunities at various times.”
Those times occurred throughout Saturday’s game:
• The Brewers scored without a hit in the first inning when Bobby Wilson threw wildly to second in an attempt to throw out Lorenzo Cain, who was advancing on a wild pitch by righthander Fernando Romero. Cain advanced to third, then scored on a sacrifice fly.
• The Twins drew six walks off Milwaukee starter Freddy Peralta. But just two of them scored; the rest were stranded or erased on double plays.
• Speaking of double plays, the Twins hit into three of them to kill scoring opportunities.
• Romero threw two wild pitches, including one that enabled Manny Pina to score from third in the fifth.
• Logan Morrison doubled to open the sixth inning. But, despite not having that big of a lead, he was picked off base when Brewers reliever Dan Jennings whirled and threw to shortstop Orlando Arcia, who had sneaked behind Morrison.
“It’s just one of those things,” Molitor said. “He’ll be the first to tell you. He probably just can’t assume anything at any time, and once you’re off the base you’re vulnerable and you gotta be ready.”
• The Twins never reached second base again as the Brewers retired 10 of the final 13 batters. And nine of the last 11 Twins struck out.
Despite all of this, the Twins still had a chance late.
They led 2-1 after Wilson’s two-run double in the second. When Milwaukee tied it in the fourth, the Twins answered in the bottom of the inning when Jake Cave blasted a two-run homer to right in his first major league game. It was a thrill for him and his family, who flew in from Hampton, Va.
“I just wanted to go out there and compete today,” Cave said. “To be able to get the barrel on the baseball like that, it’s cool. It’s everything I thought it would be.”
The Brewers struck back with two in the fifth, including the wild pitch from Romero, to tie the score. Then Yelich connected on a 2-1 pitch from Reed in the eighth to take the lead.
Brewers lefthander Josh Hader, who strikes out nearly everyone he faces, issued a leadoff walk to Robbie Grossman in the ninth, and Byron Buxton pinch ran for him.
The Twins needed a big hit, but Hader stuck out the next three batters to end the game.
“The numbers are plenty hard, 93-95 [miles per hour], but no one seems to be able to time it,” Molitor said of Hader, who has struck out 56 batters in 27⅓ innings. “I don’t know how many swings and misses we had consecutively when you know it’s going to be a fastball and you still can’t put the bat on the ball.”