LOS ANGELES — Sometimes the hitting goes bad and costs you a game. Sometimes, the pitching is the culprit. And sometimes, the paperwork gets screwed up.
Jose Berrios allowed four runs in an ugly fourth inning, and the Twins once again failed to capitalize when they put runners in scoring position. But the enduring image of the Twins’ third straight loss, 6-2 to the steamrolling Dodgers, will be umpires Lance Barrett and Bill Welke putting Paul Molitor through a lengthy mid-game tax audit.
With the Twins trying to keep their sixth-inning deficit at a manageable two runs, Molitor decided to execute a double-switch, inserting utility infielder Ehire Adrianza at shortstop, batting ninth, and reliever Ryan Pressly in the seventh slot, replacing shortstop Jorge Polanco. But as soon as Pressly threw a pitch, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts emerged with a complaint for Barrett: This isn’t the switch you told us about.
“What I think I said [to Barrett] and what he heard were two different things,” Molitor said.
Specifically, when Molitor explained what he called “a pretty obvious double-switch,” Barrett wrote down something completely different: Pitcher Matt Belisle was going to left field, replacing Eddie Rosario as the fifth batter, and Ryan Pressly was pitching and batting seventh. No, it didn’t make sense to Molitor, either, but “that’s what he wrote down” and relayed to Roberts. “I don’t know if I said a wrong name, or what I possibly might have said. I can’t imagine I said Belisle for Rosario, but he heard what he heard,” the manager said. “And if I didn’t make it clear, that was my responsibility.”
The umpires insisted that Rosario was out of the game, and Molitor eventually send Adrianza out to left field to explain it to Rosario and send him in. Even though Polanco was not in the game when it resumed, the umpires allowed him to return to the field, and he took his spot against at shortstop. “They looked at that as a correctable mistake,” Molitor said. Was Belisle then disqualified from a game he never actually entered? “They didn’t clarify that,” Molitor said. “If I needed Belisle, I would have had to go see what his status was, if that was also a correctable mistake.”
Even after Molitor gave up on his argument and made the changed insisted upon, Barrett and Welke put on headphones to communicate with MLB’s replay office in New York, a discussion that added another 10 minutes to the delay. Finally, after an 18-minute interruption that had the rapidly thinning Dodger Stadium crowd chanting, “Let’s play baseball!” the game resumed — and Pressly, who warmed up three times while waiting to pitch, surrendered three hits in quick succession to Yasiel Puig, Logan Forsythe and Chris Taylor, the latter two run-scoring hits that extended the Dodgers’ lead and helped drop the Twins below .500 for the first time since they were 10-11 on April 27.
“If something was miscommunciated, that’s my issue,” the manager said. “I told my team, I put them in a bad spot by not making it clear, and we had to play the game out from there.”
Barrett and Welke spoke to a pool reporter after the game and said they understood Molitor wanted Pressly fifth and Adrianza ninth and in left field; there was no discussion of Belisle. They said they simply made Molitor’s lineup comply with the lineup that Barrett had written down, and their discussion with New York was to make certain there was no rule covering such a situation that they had overlooked.
Despite the confusion, Minnesota, now 49-50 on the season, 4 1/2 games behind Cleveland in the AL Central race and three games behind Kansas City for the final wild-card spot, was likely doomed to defeat anyway, given Berrios’ fourth-inning scuffle. The second-year righthander dropped to 9-4 on the year, working his way out of trouble a couple times in the first three innings, but succumbing to a red-hot Dodgers offense in the fourth.
Four of the first five hitters he faced in the fourth smacked base hits, including Joc Pederson’s double off the center field wall. And needing one out to hold the damage at two runs, Berrios surrendered a double into the left field corner to Chris Taylor that scored two runs and put the Dodgers ahead for good. Los Angeles went on to win its 48th consecutive game in which it held a lead at any time.
After a sensational start to his second major league season — he was 7-1 on this date a month ago — Berrios has worn down as his innings have climbed. His ERA over his last six starts is 5.76, and he’s delivered only one quality start in that span.
The Twins took an early lead on a third-inning single by Zack Granite, who wouldn’t have been in the lineup if Byron Buxton wasn’t suffering from migraines that delayed his activation from the disabled list. In the fifth, the Twins put together a two-out rally thanks to a video review; Brian Dozier was called out on a ground ball to short, in which Corey Seager’s throw pulled Cody Bellinger off the bag. The call was revered when Molitor challenged it, and Dozier scored when Joe Mauer and Eduardo Escobar lined back-to-back two-out singles.
That interaction with the umpires paid off. The next one put the Twins at a disadvantage. “I suggested to them that they add microphones to their replay system,” Molitor said ruefully, “and we could check the audio.”