ST. PETERSBURG, FLA. - After being knocked down Monday then shut down Tuesday, the Twins know they need to respond as they are allowing the pack to creep closer in the fight for a AL wild card.
And they need to respond quickly.
“I don’t want to say it’s a must-win,” second baseman Brian Dozier said. “It’s a game we really need to win [Wednesday] to get going into Kansas City.”
The Twins were no-hit by Rays righthander Jake Odorizzi for 6⅓ innings Tuesday on the way to a 2-1 loss. Their challenge is to leave Tampa Bay with at least one victory before their four-game series against the Royals.
After losing 11-4 on Monday and shut down Tuesday, the Twins have dropped three consecutive games and four of their past five.
The Rays pulled within two games of the Twins for the second AL wild card. The Angels, after defeating Oakland in 10 innings late Tuesday night, are a half-game ahead of the Twins.
“The effort has been good, just the results haven’t been,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “The last few days in particular.”
Odorizzi made only his fifth career start against the Twins, but the visitors were familiar with him after facing him several times in spring training. They knew his pitches and how he uses them.
But it was as if Odorizzi was another person Tuesday.
He threw a lively fastball that Twins hitters either missed or were unable to square up. They chased his breaking ball and split-fingered fastball or watched them cut the plate for strikes. They were baffled, and the outs rapidly accumulated. He used all four sides of the strike zone. He retired the first 12 batters he faced before Eddie Rosario drew a walk to lead off the fifth.
“Oh yeah,” said pitching coach Neil Allen, who worked with Odorizzi in the Rays’ minor-league system. “Up, then down. Up, then down. Then a wrinkle. Up, down. Up, down. Then in, in and in. When he’s on, he’s really good.”
Twins righthander Bartolo Colon (6-11) wasn’t too shabby either, giving up two runs over six innings on a solo homer to Lucas Duda in the fourth, then an RBI double to Duda in the sixth.
The no-hitter ended with one out in the seventh, when Joe Mauer’s grounder up the middle deflected off second base for an infield hit. Odorizzi (8-7) held the Twins to no runs over 6⅔ innings on one hit, one walk and six strikeouts.
“Just wasn’t meant to be,” Odorizzi said. “The bases have been there since they created the game, so it’s just how it happens. [Mauer] is a good guy. I have heard awesome things about him.”
The shutout ended in the ninth when Robbie Grossman homered off closer Alex Colome. The Twins then put runners on first and third with one out, but Rosario went after Colome’s first pitch and grounded into a game-ending double play. The Twins finished with four hits and two walks. The Rays won for the sixth time while scoring two or fewer runs.
And now the Twins have to regroup and avoid getting swept in the three-game series.
“I know everyone here believes in themselves and believes in the team,” Colon said. “We have done it a lot these past few weeks, coming from behind and winning games. It feels fine in here.”