There are slumps, and then there are craters. The Twins, who had won four out of five games before Thursday’s sudden short-circuit, have fallen into a Target Field-sized hole.
One day after going down in order in five straight innings and eking out a mere four hits, the Twins outdid even their own recession-ridden standards with eight 1-2-3 innings and three lousy hits, falling 8-1 to the Texas Rangers.
“We got three zeroes from [starter Fernando] Romero to start the game, and we didn’t have anything going. We got one hit,” Twins manager Paul Molitor grumbled. “The way we’re swinging the bats right now, we just couldn’t mount anything.”
That’s being charitable. The Twins, who dropped seven games back in the AL Central, have been held to fewer than a half-dozen hits three times during the first four games of this homestand. To be fair, injuries, suspensions and demotions have stripped the Twins of five of their projected regulars plus super-utility Eduardo Escobar, leaving Molitor to write a lineup where Robbie Grossman bats cleanup and shortstop Ehire Adrianza hits fifth for the first time in his career.
But no Twin has advanced even as far as second base in 15 of their past 17 innings.
Brian Dozier tried Friday, smacking a sharp first-inning single off Rangers starter Mike Minor into the left-field corner. He accelerated around first base, but was easily thrown out by Joey Gallo at second, a symbolic start to another long night.
“It was probably a hair aggressive,” Molitor said. “But you hook one toward the corner, and you’re thinking two out of the box. He got committed and was not able to retreat.”
“With two outs, you’ve got to try to get to second,” Dozier said. “He made a nice throw. I’d do it every time.”
Romero allowed four runs over six innings. The Rangers added four runs in the ninth, battering Matt Belisle for five hits and giving the Twins a seven-run margin of defeat for the second straight day.
Max Kepler doubled into the left-field corner in the sixth inning and scored the Twins’ lone run when Joe Mauer hit a line drive to nearly the same spot. But even that potential inning was undone by a mistake, when Ryan LaMarre misjudged a wild pitch and was thrown out trying to advance.