Twins starter Yohan Pino hung in for 6⅓ innings in his sixth career start Tuesday night, but the offense failed to produce timely hits once more during the early part of the post-All-Star Game season.
The Twins struggled with runners in scoring position once again, leaving 10 on base, as they fell 8-2 to the Cleveland Indians at Target Field.
They’ve left 39 men on base in the first five games since the All-Star break. The Twins went 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position against starting pitcher Danny Salazar and the Indians’ bullpen.
“It’s one of those things where it snowballs when you’re doing it well and hitting it and then you go into the funk and keep misfiring,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “Maybe they’re trying a little too hard to do a little too much.”
Sam Fuld and Danny Santana whiffed on the Twins’ best opportunity against Salazar in the second inning with the bases loaded after three consecutive walks. With the Twins down 3-0, Salazar fanned both Fuld and Santana to account for two of his six strikeouts.
Fuld was visibility upset after home plate umpire D.J. Reyburn called the first two pitches strikes. Gardenhire thought Fuld should have had a 2-0 count.
“They were two bad pitches, both high and not in the strike zone,” Gardenhire said. “We got a little unfortunate there because D.J. does a really nice job behind the plate.”
The Twins failed to score in the situation after Pino allowed three runs in the top of the second. The first three batters reached to load the bases. David Murphy gave the Indians a 2-0 lead on a one-out, two-RBI single to right field. Mike Aviles followed with a sacrifice fly to score Nick Swisher from third.
Fuld got the Twins on the board in the fourth on a fielder’s choice that scored Oswaldo Arcia from third. With two on and two outs, Brian Dozier struck out to strand Fuld and Danny Santana.
“One time it’s not getting guys on base to drive in runs, and then next time we’re getting guys on base and can’t [come] through with two outs, myself included,” Dozier said.
Salazar moved to 2-4 after allowing one run on six hits in five innings. Pino dropped to 1-3, conceding four runs on seven hits.
Three of Pino’s hits allowed came off Carlos Santana’s bat. He was a triple shy of the cycle after a double in the second, a single in the third and a towering solo shot that sailed into the right field concourse in the fifth and gave the Indians a 4-1 lead.
Dozier was also a triple short of his first career cycle. He responded in the seventh with a solo home run of his own that reduced the deficit to 4-2. It was Dozier’s 19th home run this season, surpassing his career high set last season.
All hope for a possible comeback faded in the ninth when reliever Matt Guerrier allowed four runs in the ninth on four hits and two walks. The trainers checked on Guerrier during his outing, but he insisted he was fine.
“It was one of those days where nothing was going good,” Guerrier said.
The Twins have lost seven of their past eight games at Target Field against the Indians, with the only victory occurring Monday.