ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Kids make mistakes. For all the growing anticipation over the crop of young players headed for Minnesota over the next few years, those three words are going to be gospel around the Twins for a while, and Monday’s 7-4 loss to the Rays was as good a reminder as you can get.
Aaron Hicks went 4-for-4 and lifted his batting average above .200 for the first time, and Oswaldo Arcia moved the go-ahead runner into scoring position with a single — but each made a rally-killing baserunning blunder, too. Samuel Deduno worked out of one jam after another — but gave up as many home runs in six innings as he had in his previous 49, including the tiebreaker. And Caleb Thielbar had only been perfect thus far this season, hadn’t given up so much as an infield hit in a month. But the ERA is 0.00 no more, after Ben Zobrist feasted on a pitch Thielbar left over the plate.
“It’s pretty disappointing,” manager Ron Gardenhire said after the Twins lost for the eighth time in nine games. “Guys are trying. But [Hicks] picked off at first base, Arcia trying to go to second base — silly stuff like that ends up shooting you in the end. And it did.”
The Twins collected 10 hits and put a runner on third base, at least, in six different innings. But a 2-for-12 night with runners in scoring position made the Twins’ self-inflicted outs in the fourth inning stick out even more. After Justin Morneau led off the fourth inning with his seventh home run, and fourth in his past seven games, Trevor Plouffe and Arcia singled. When the throw to third appeared to get past Evan Longoria, Arcia kept running, not noticing that the ball had bounced off pitcher Roberto Hernandez’s knee and back to Longoria.
“He lost sight of the ball. … He thought he had the base easy, but Longoria was standing there with it,” Gardenhire grumbled. “You’ve just got to make sure — there’s no outs there. Could be a big [inning].”
After a sacrifice fly by Chris Parmelee, Hicks lined a single, then contemplated, and aborted, a steal of second. Catcher Jose Molina fired the ball to first, and Hicks couldn’t get back.
“I was trying to get a bag, [but I] didn’t get the greatest jump,” explained Hicks, who is batting .400 since coming off the disabled list a week ago. “He just happened to catch me kind of still in the air, and made a good throw back to the bag.”
Limited to only two runs that inning, the Twins gave Deduno no margin for error. He gave up the tying run on a Longoria single in the fifth, then took the mound in the seventh hoping to keep it tied. But he left a changeup to Yunel Escobar over the plate, rather than his target outside, and it landed in the left-field seats. Luke Scott already had homered off Deduno, who had surrendered only two home runs in his previous eight starts.
“Just didn’t make pretty good pitches tonight,” said Deduno, now 4-4 after losing three of his past four starts. “Everything stayed up and fastball didn’t move.”
Desmond Jennings followed with a triple, and Gardenhire turned to Thielbar, whose numbers were reaching record territory.
They aren’t anymore.
“I just left a pitch up in the zone,” Thielbar said of the fastball that Ben Zobrist, who had not hit a home run righthanded all season, blasted into the bleachers. “Get it in there, and he probably just flies out to short left or something. Especially that situation, you’ve got to try to keep the game close there, and I didn’t do that. I didn’t really give us a chance to win those last two innings.”