On a full-count pitch in the sixth inning Friday at Target Field, Robbie Grossman planted a Garrett Richards slider well into the seats in right, and the Twins took a one-run lead.
That is a dangerous time for the Twins. They headed to the late innings working with a 3-12 record in one-run games. And they promptly provided reasons why. Relievers Ryan Pressly and Addison Reed both gave up late home runs, and the Angels pulled off a 4-2 victory.
The record in one-run games remains unchanged, but the Twins now have lost 18 games by one or two runs — in only 60 games played. The Twins might test the theory that the cumulative effect of so many losses that way could leave them desensitized.
“I think you keep talking and finding ways to win,” manager Paul Molitor said. “We’ve done it at times. Our overall record, particularly in one-run games, is a big reason why we are where we are.
“You look at teams that have been more effective in finding ways to close out games and win those close ones — Seattle comes to mind, every time I look up they’re winning by one run. So, yeah, those can be swings in how your season unfolds.”
Pressly was handed the 2-1 lead in the seventh but gave up a double to Martin Maldonado. With two out, Pressly was ahead 1-2 to .218-hitting Ian Kinsler — a strike away from getting out of the inning — when he centered a breaking ball. Kinsler bashed it 411 feet and into the stands in left.
“Left a pitch hanging,” said Pressly, who has given up seven runs over his past four innings. “He hit it. Made me pay for it. He put a good swing on it.
“I probably should’ve gone with another pitch but it is what it is. I wanted it down. Obviously I left it up and that’s the way it happened.”
Reed took over in the eighth and gave up a 420-foot blast to Justin Upton.
Pressly, is tied for the AL lead in appearances with 33, has given up three home runs over his past five outings. Reed has given up three in his past four.
“I think for Reeder it’s been probably more location-based than stuff-based,” Molitor said. “For Pressly, it’s been a mixed bag. Sometimes his breaking balls are backed up. The other day he walked [Jose] Ramirez on four pitches, on offspeed pitches, and then challenged the next hitter [Edwin Encarnacion] with a fastball, and it went a long way [427 feet]. So I think he tries to reach back and throw everything as hard as he can, and sometimes not getting it to a spot maybe is more costly than maybe trying to back down and make sure he’s commanding his pitches.”
The offense isn’t doing its part either. The Twins managed only one hit over the past four innings — an infield single by Eddie Rosario in the seventh. It enabled the Angels to win their fifth consecutive game.
It also spoiled the latest good outing by Lance Lynn, who reached back to throwing 96 miles per hour when he had to.
Starting with a strikeout of Mike Trout with the bases loaded and two out in the second, Lynn retired 13 of the last 14 batters he faced. After going 1-4 with a 7.47 ERA over his first eight starts, Lynn has posted a 1.46 ERA over his past five.
“We just didn’t have enough offense overall,” Molitor said. “Came down to bullpens at the end for both sides. One strike from protecting the lead in the seventh and we make a mistake with the curveball. Even though Kinsler hasn’t had his best year, we still know he’s dangerous and we made the mistake.”