Baserunning gaffes, costly stumbles, pop-up miscues -- the Twins are getting more creative in their futility on the field.
Ryan Doumit held out his hands as if to ask, "What the heck happened there?"
Jason Marquis stared at Trevor Plouffe. Plouffe looked away in disbelief.
Fans groaned ... then booed.
It was a snapshot of a season that has gone terribly wrong for the woebegone Twins. A pop-up no more than 10 feet in front of home plate in the fourth inning finding turf instead of leather. A run scoring from second. Players stunned. A fan base sickened.
It was the worst play among many candidates in a 6-2 loss to Toronto, one that gave the Twins their 14th defeat in 17 games.
"Things happened out there," manager Ron Gardenhire said, "that really don't happen in high school."
The first boos were heard four batters into the game, when Twins starter Jason Marquis walked Edwin Encarnacion. That turned out to be a throat-clearing exercise for the announced crowd of 31,438 at Target Field. This game deserved circus music for a soundtrack.
The Twins started a speedy outfield of Darin Mastroianni, Denard Span and Erik Komatsu, but that speed got them into trouble in the second inning. Komatsu reached on a two-out bunt single, but when the ball was thrown away by Blue Jays righthander Henderson Alvarez, Komatsu failed to pick up third base coach Steve Liddle and slowed down between first and second base. He accelerated too late and was thrown out trying to reach third.
In the top of the third inning with the Blue Jays up 2-0, Yunel Escobar scored from second because Alexi Casilla fell over second base while catching Plouffe's throw from third for a force play, failing to keep an eye on Escobar, who rounded third and never stopped. Toronto added two more runs that inning -- the last one unearned following a Doumit passed ball -- for a 5-0 lead.
The botched pop-up occurred with runners on first and second and two out in the fourth. Encarnacion popped up a Marquis pitch in front of the plate. He screamed at himself and slapped his bat to the ground, but Doumit didn't pick up the ball off the bat. Marquis raced in and was in position to catch the ball, but gave way when he heard Plouffe racing in from third. Plouffe, however, wasn't there in time. The ball landed between Doumit, Marquis and Plouffe, and Escobar scored to make it 6-1.
If any fan hadn't booed yet, they did then.
Gardenhire said that, after Doumit lost the ball, Plouffe should have caught it.
"That's a routine pop-up," Doumit said. "That's a play that's got to be made to help out our pitcher."
Plouffe then allowed himself to be tagged out between first and second in the bottom of the fourth to start an inning-ending double play. "When it rains it pours," Doumit said. "And it's pouring right now."
Fans were so fed up with the Twins' play that they gave them a Bronx cheer in the fifth when Span caught a fly ball in short center as Mastroianni and shortstop Brian Dozier converged.
Gardenhire sounded embarrassed afterward. The few players in the clubhouse when it was opened to the media stared into their stalls. It's a fiasco in the making.
"Trying to stay positive but it has been tough," first baseman Joe Mauer said. "We haven't pitched. We haven't hit. We haven't played defense. It's tough to win ballgames like that.
"We have to figure things out. The guys are pressing. If we keep doing that, things are going to get worse."
|Fla Gulf Coast||62|
|Sam Houston St||67||FINAL|
|Miss Valley St||0|
|Stephen F Austin||92|
|Cal State Fullerton||62||FINAL|
|Long Beach State||69|
|(18) Texas A&M||57|
|East Tenn St||73|
|Sam Houston St||73||FINAL|
|Stephen F Austin||56|
|Miss Valley St||0|
|(15) North Carolina||84|
|Cal State Fullerton||66|
|Long Beach St||60||FINAL|
|UC Santa Barbara||36|
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