The Twins have been working on their comebacks from large deficits lately. But, despite scoring 16 runs over their past two games, they still have two losses to show for it.
They suffered another agonizing defeat Thursday night, when they dug an early huge hole in the opener of an 11-game homestand but began barreling pitches against a shaky Cleveland bullpen to tie the score. While trying to come up with one final run, they watched Indians star Francisco Lindor cap a signature performance with a solo homer in the eighth inning off Addison Reed to lead the Indians to a 9-8 victory at Target Field.
Now the Twins have lost seven of their past eight games and are eight games under .500. After falling behind 9-0 and 8-0 the past two nights, they have every reason to be frustrated. But Miguel Sano, whose three-run homer in the seventh created the 8-8 tie, said that is not the case.
“We come back late in the game and started hitting,” Sano said. “This was a great game because we kept fighting and competed.”
The Twins turned boos in the early innings into cheers from the announced crowd of 19,148. Maybe this was the night they would complete the largest comeback victory in club history. But Lindor would have none of that.
The All-Star shorstop finished off a lengthy at-bat against Reed by punishing a fat slider over the fence in straightaway center. Lindor was ridiculous all night, going 4-for-5 with two homers, two doubles, four RBI and three runs scored.
Reed fell to 1-4 on the season — the four home runs he has given up responsible for all four losses.
“A cement-mixer slider right down the middle to a pretty good hitter,” said Reed, pitching in his fifth game in the past seven days. “That combination is never good, and he did what he was supposed to do with it.”
Twins manager Paul Molitor has become a little miffed by mistakes his team has made in recent days. He gathered the team at second base before the game, with a message that players need to clean up their game, baserunning, defense, situational hitting. Everything.
“No excuses,” Molitor said before the game. ”There’s no sympathy being thrown our way. You’ve got to go out and try to find a way to play better.”
So much for the talk, as Cleveland took a 8-0 lead through four innings, and Twins looked awful during it.
Brian Dozier — a 2017 Gold Glove winner at second base — dropped a routine pop fly to short right field.
Catcher Mitch Garver fumbled a throw from the outfield that would have nabbed Edwin Encarnacion at the plate.
Eddie Rosario was picked off first on the back end of a strikeout by Sano.
And Jake Odorizzi lasted only 3⅔ innings, giving up those eight runs.
But just as they did Wednesday, the Twins responded. Back-to-back singles by Robbie Grossman and Ryan LaMarre in the fifth inning produced two runs. Back-to-back home runs by Logan Morrison and Eduardo Escobar in the sixth made it 8-4.
Then Rosario’s RBI single in the seventh preceded Sano’s tying blast off Zach McAllister.
But Lindor spoiled the rally.
“We got some big hits to enable that to happen,” Molitor said. “… Lindor took some tough pitches before he got one that was a bit of a mistake and he didn’t miss it again. You get 12 total bases in a night, that’s a pretty good night.”