MIAMI – Marlins righthander Tom Koehler could not throw strikes in the first inning Wednesday. The first four Twins batters reached base. Joe Mauer and Josh Willingham hit RBI singles, and a third run scored on Oswaldo Arcia’s groundout.
The Twins led 3-0, and it looked as if it was going to be a laugher.
Instead, the Twins flew back to Minnesota kicking themselves over wasted opportunities.
They failed to finish off Koehler, who rediscovered the strike zone and kept the score 3-0 until the Marlins came through with three runs in the fifth and two in the sixth to win 5-3.
“We let them hang around long enough,” said Twins first baseman Justin Morneau, who struck out in a pinch-hitting appearance in the ninth. “And being a scrappy, aggressive team like they are, they found a way to come back.
“It’s too bad, because it’s definitely a game we should have won.”
The Twins left two runners on base in the third when Chris Parmelee flied out to center. Parmelee batted again with the bases loaded and two outs in the fifth and grounded out to first.
Koehler lasted four innings. Former Twins pitcher Kevin Slowey entered the game and pitched three shutout innings to get the win. And he got a single off Scott Diamond.
“It’s a funny game, isn’t it?” Morneau said.
The Marlins won both games of the short series.
“They outplayed us in this series,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “They got it done and we didn’t.”
Not ready to catch
Ryan Doumit pinch hit in the ninth inning Tuesday and looked limited when he ran to first during a flyout. His right ankle continues to bother him after he was injured on Sunday while diving into home plate.
Doumit was unable to catch Wednesday, so Mauer caught a day game following a night game.
“It’s not a perfect scenario right now, squatting and bending with that ankle,” Gardenhire said. “I think you saw him pinch hit and take off running. He wasn’t running great. He’s a tough guy and he’s going to tell you he can go and I respect that, but I also have to be careful of the situation.”
Both Gardenhire and assistant general manager Rob Antony, who is traveling with the club, don’t believe they will have to place Doumit on the disabled list. But Gardenhire wants assurances that Doumit won’t be out several days.
Rest for Morneau
There appears to be a shift in how Gardenhire is handling Morneau.
Morneau didn’t start on Sunday in Cleveland because Gardenhire believed Morneau needed a break. But on Wednesday, Morneau was not in the starting lineup again.
The former MVP is not injured. But Gardenhire believe he needs to start looking to give Morneau an occasional day off. So he picked a day game after a night game on Tuesday. He also pointed out that Parmelee needs at-bats and that the team has just started a stretch during which it will play on 20 consecutive days before the All-Star break.
“I’m going to start watching over him and give him his days when he needs them,” Gardenhire said. “He’s never going to say he can’t play.”
Morneau doesn’t like addressing the possibility of playing less.
“I want to be effective playing in August and September,” he said. “There’s no real magic formula to figure out what’s going to help. I don’t know. It’s not up to me.”