Twins Way has gone wayward once again

Baserunning blunders and booted fielding chances -- something past squads seemed to avoid -- keep plaguing the team.

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PHOENIX - Just when you thought the Evil Twins were ditched in some fish market in Seattle, they made their way to the Valley of the Sun.

This is where a once-promising road trip was ruined, sticking the Twins right back into the sinkhole.

More mistakes on Sunday led to a 3-2 loss to Arizona, which finished a three-game sweep of the series. The Twins quickly changed and headed for a flight back to the Twin Cities following a 3-4 road trip.

They arrived in Arizona with a three-game winning streak and signs their offense was finding a groove. The Twins had chances to win all three games. They were one ninth-inning swing of the bat away from tying games on Friday and Sunday and led in the eighth inning on Saturday before the Diamondbacks scored six runs in the eighth.

"We had our chances, like you said," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We made some pitches and some crazy things happened. Bottom line, they played a little better at the end than we did, in all those games, from the seventh inning on."

There's nothing that can harsh a team's mellow like a bad bullpen. Things could get worse with lefthander Glen Perkins on the 15-day disabled list because of a right oblique strain. Then again, things could get better, if righthander Kevin Slowey gets shipped to Class AAA Rochester to start games and the Twins can add someone who likes working out of the bullpen.

Other fundamental failures flared up time and time again during the series against the D-backs.

The Twins botched another rundown (that's at least three this season) in the first inning, enabling Ryan Roberts to steal second. Alexi Casilla was thrown out trying to steal second in the seventh, and Gardenhire pointed out that Casilla was supposed to run on a breaking-ball count but was impatient.

Trevor Plouffe, trying to bunt Ben Revere to second in the eighth, bunted directly at hard-charging third baseman Roberts, who forced out Revere at second base and killed a threat.

Even the way the winning run scored was offensive to Twins baseball. Alex Burnett hung a slider in the seventh to Willie Bloomquist, who hammered it to center. Revere watched the ball kick off his glove, and Bloomquist advanced to third. He scored on a sacrifice fly.

So Arizona can commit five errors on Saturday and still win, while the Twins foul up one play Sunday and lose.

That's how the Twins are rolling these days. Evil Twins, that is. Because anyone who watches them turns evil.

"It's not the way we are taught to play, that's for sure," first baseman Justin Morneau said. "We put in all that time in spring training. A lot of it is mental preparation, knowing the situation before it happens and playing it out in your head."

The Twins began the road trip with yelling in the clubhouse following a loss to Seattle last Monday. The Twins won their next three games, suggesting that Morneau's anger directed at younger players might have worked.

Now they are 14 1/2 games out of first place in the AL Central.

"It's frustrating," Gardenhire said. "We've won a lot of baseball games around here. We're not used to this losing stuff -- and we don't want to get used to it. That's the impression we are trying to make on these players. This is something we're not going to accept.

"So there will be more moves. I'm not afraid to move people around. We are going to try to get the right chemistry as we go along here. I want people who can play the game. I don't want to sit in the dugout telling everybody to move here, move there all the time. That's not the way you like to manage."

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  • INTERLEAGUE PLAY arizona 3, twins 2

    Up next: Three-game series vs. Seattle at Target Field • Game 1: 7:10 tonight TV: FSN (1500ESPN)

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