MILWAUKEE – The Twins hoped that getting away from Chicago and getting a fresh start against the Brewers would change their fortunes.
Sorry, bad baseball travels. And some of the issues that led to five losses in six games vs. the White Sox and Cubs last week reappeared Monday in a 6-5, 10-inning loss to the Brewers.
With the Twins up 5-1 after Robbie Grossman’s fifth-inning grand slam, Kyle Gibson gave up three runs in the bottom of the inning; Fernando Rodney blew his second save in a row in the ninth; and rookie Zack Littell, thrust in a tough situation because of bullpen overuse, loaded the bases in the 10th before walking Brad Miller to force in the winning run.
“You imagine the frustration of fighting, playing a good game for the most part and having a chance there,” manager Paul Molitor said. “You put a young kid in a tough spot bringing him in there in his second appearance, out of his routine of starting. There’s not a lot of margin of error there. It is what it is.
“We got the big hit from Robbie, and then we got shut down the rest of the game. They inched closer, especially in the fifth. We just couldn’t hold on to the end. It’s kind of a familiar story line, but it’s reality.”
• The Twins are 4-15 in one-run games.
• They have suffered nine walkoff losses.
• They are 3-6 in extra-inning games.
• They have lost four in a row despite scoring 30 runs over those games. They have also lost six of seven and nine of 11.
“It gets cumulatively frustrating to keep losing games,” Gibson said, “but I don’t think it is doing anything to roll into the next day. I expect us to come out and play a solid game and have a chance to win.”
Gibson singled and scored the Twins’ first run in the third inning. He then singled to left to start the fifth. Eddie Rosario beat out an infield hit. Then Brian Dozier singled to left to load the bases — Gibson was held up at third when most other players probably would have been waved home.
Brewers pitching coach Derek Johnson went to the mound to talk with righthander Brent Suter. Surely, he didn’t advise him to throw an 84-mile-per-hour fastball over the heart of the plate. But Suter did, and Grossman homered to left-center for his first career grand slam and 5-1 Twins lead.
But Milwaukee responded with three runs in the bottom of the inning, getting a leadoff homer by Manny Pina and an unearned run on third baseman Willians Astudillo’s fielding error.
The Twins bullpen held the score there until the ninth. But Rodney, pitching in only his second game since June 23, loaded the bases and gave up a game-tying sacrifice fly to Travis Shaw. It was Rodney’s fifth blown save of the season.
Littell, who was sent down to Class AAA Rochester following the game, looked nervous as he loaded the bases with no outs in the 10th. Molitor went to a five-man infield and got a forceout at home. But Littell kept misfiring until Miller walked on four pitches to force in the winning run.
Gibson had two singles and scored twice, but it was hard for him to talk about his night at the plate.
“I’d like to have a little bit more fun with that,” he said, “but I’d rather go 0-for-5 and throw eight innings.”