Hitting goes missing again as Twins fall to Royals

The Twins returned to their new offensive normal in a shutout loss.

The good feeling about the Twins offense lasted one day, actually about 14 hours.

After Twins hitters broke out against Kansas City on Tuesday night, lefthander Jason Vargas had them mumbling to themselves once again. Vargas was dominant during the Royals’ 4-0 victory Wednesday afternoon at Target Field.

“We’re not hitting,” Twins second baseman Brian Dozier said. “We’re not doing things that a good offense is supposed to do.”

The Twins had only three base- runners reach second all day, with one reaching there after help from instant replay. Most of the lineup was no match for Vargas, who held the Twins to four hits and two walks over seven innings. It was the second time in four days the Twins have been shut out.

Twins righthander Kevin Correia didn’t pitch poorly — he gave up two runs over six innings — but fell to 4-10 and is the first AL pitcher to reach double-digit losses this season.

Vargas, like righthander James Shields the night before, throws a good changeup. Funny how things can change from one pitcher to another. Shields is struggling against the Twins, going 1-3 with a 4.88 ERA in his past four starts against them. Vargas, in three starts this season vs. the Twins, is 2-0 with a 0.86 ERA.

The difference, besides which hand each one throws with, might be unpredictability. Vargas will throw changeups while trailing in the count, and that threw the Twins batting order out of whack Wednesday.

“That’s the way he pitches,” Dozier said. “He’s had a lot of success against us, especially this year.”

What the Twins might be more concerned about right now is the recent past and the immediate future.

Over the past 17 games, they have scored more than four runs in only four games. They are 6-11 during that stretch.

They head into this 11-game stretch before the All-Star break with leadoff hitter Danny Santana and first baseman Joe Mauer on the disabled list. Mauer is batting .362 during his current 13-game hitting streak but was placed on the 15-day DL Wednesday because of an oblique strain.

Now manager Ron Gardenhire has to replace two players who usually bat at the top of his lineup. Eduardo Nunez batted leadoff Wednesday and was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. Chris Parmelee batted third and played first base in place of Mauer and went 2-for-4 while running his hitting streak to a career-high 12 games.

Parmelee’s nice afternoon didn’t matter much against Vargas (8-3). Kansas City got RBI singles by Mike Moustakas and Jarrod Dyson in the second inning to take a 2-0 lead. Raul Ibanez, age 42, homered off Casey Fien in the eighth, and Eric Hosmer added an RBI single off Glen Perkins in the ninth.

The Twins lineup will have plenty of moving parts to it now, while Gardenhire figures out who has the best chance of producing each day.

“Now we’ll try to bunch them up and put all the good hitters at the top,” Gardenhire said before joking, “and the sucky ones at the bottom.”

He has to determine which player goes in which pile quickly, because here comes Masahiro Tanaka and the Yankees.



 

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