Three final notes from the Twins’ 15th home loss of the season:
Miguel Sano looked at a 79-mph curveball from Luke Hochever in the seventh inning Tuesday, but didn’t move. It dropped into the strike zone, and Sano was out, his third K of the night.
And with that, the second-year slugger moved into a tie for the major-league lead in strikeouts.
Sano has 66 on the season, matching Justin Upton of Detroit and Trevor Story of Colorado, with Cleveland’s Mike Napoli right behind at 64. The Twins understood that their top prospect was strikeout-prone, but he looks mismatched more frequently lately. In fact, it’s been a pretty miserable month for the Twins’ 2015 MVP — since May 4, Sano is 10-for-64 (.156) with 27 strikeouts.
“I think he’s a little off. Like [Byung Ho] Park, he hits in between — a lot of check swings,” manager Paul Molitor said of Sano, who has whiffed 21 times in his last 11 games. “Like a lot of our guys, he’s young and frustrated and trying to get back on track.”
The Twins loaded the bases with no outs in the ninth inning, the sixth time they’ve set up such a ripe scoring opportunity this season. But Wade Davis showed why he’s one of the best relievers in baseball — remember, he’s allowed 18 runs in the past three seasons combined — by keeping all three runners where they were.
Eduardo Nunez and Joe Mauer struck out, and Sano, the newly crowned strikeout king, somewhat ironically ended the game by flying out.
And that kept the Twins’ run total in innings that started out so promisingly at a mere six. It was the second time they have failed to score at all.
While we’re at it, here’s one more rather amazing stat about bases-loaded-no-outs situations: The Royals haven’t had a single one this season.
The Twins’ bullpen, already the second-most-overworked unit in the AL (one inning behind Oakland), has been overloaded the past two days, with 11 2/3 innings dropped on them by a bad outing by the starter. That could trigger a roster move, though there may not be enough time.
“We’re talking about what we need to do and who’s available tomorrow. It’s getting pretty thin,” Molitor said after Tuesday’s game. “Nothing’s been concluded as of yet.”
If they’re going to make a move, it has to be quick. Wednesday’s game begins at 12:10 p.m., and while a reliever doesn’t need to be present at first pitch, it may be a lot of trouble to summon someone so quickly. With an off day Thursday, Molitor and general manager Terry Ryan could just cross their fingers and hope that Tyler Duffey goes deep into Wednesday’s game.
As for the pen, well, four relievers pitched Tuesday, after five went the night before, with Brandon Kintzler and Fernando Abad getting work both nights. They allowed only one run in Tuesday’s game over 5 1/3 innings, and that was a cheap one: Lorenzo Cain, fooled on the pitch from Ryan Pressly, served a soft line drive into right field to drive in Jarrod Dyson in the sixth.
“Pressy had a good night. He gave up a run on a pretty good pitch that Cain dumped into right field. [Michael] Tonkin did a nice job, Fernando continues to pitch well,” Molitor said. “These guys are taking the ball. I give them credit for that, because they’ve been asked to do that quite frequently.”