CHICAGO – Twins righthander Lance Lynn suffered the shortest start of the season and the third shortest of his career Sunday when he was knocked out in the second inning, during which the Chicago Cubs scored eight runs to take an 8-1 lead before holding off a late rally to win 11-10 and complete a sweep of the three-game series.
Lynn (5-7) lit the fuse himself, putting the Twins in a hole they could not fully escape.
He gave up a three-run home run to Cubs pitcher Jon Lester, who feasted on a 3-2 pitch. The next batter, Ian Happ, sent a grounder toward Logan Morrison at first base. Morrison looked to flip the ball to Lynn, but Lynn was late covering the bag. Morrison then tried to beat Happ to the bag but was late.
That would have been the second out. Jason Heyward followed with a groundout. But Ben Zobrist walked, Anthony Rizzo hit an RBI double and Javier Baez added a two-run double as the Cubs took a 6-1 lead. And that was all for Lynn.
Matt Magill entered and gave up run-scoring hits to Kyle Schwarber and Willson Contreras as Chicago took an 8-1 lead.
Lynn was charged with seven runs over 1⅔ innings and has a 14.84 ERA over his past two starts.
“We don’t want to go out to the ’pen in the second inning, given the shape of our bullpen,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said, “but we had to do it.”
The Twins kept chipping away at the lead, scoring five runs in the eighth — including a two-run triple by Willians Astudillo and a two-run homer by Mitch Garver — to cut the Cubs’ lead to one run.
The Cubs scored a whopping 35 runs in three games, the most the Twins have allowed in a series since May 29-31, 2017, when Houston scored 40 runs at Target Field.
It was the first time the Twins have given up double-digit runs in three consecutive games since Sept. 4-6, 2016.
The Twins did make things interesting with five runs in the eighth inning, including a two-run triple by Willians Astudillo and a two-run homer by Mitch Garver. Eddie Rosario then hit a two-out single off closer Brandon Morrow in the ninth and moved to second on a wild pitch.
But Eduardo Escobar, who hit his 34th double of the season in the eighth inning, grounded out to end the game. Had the Twins rallied to win, the comeback from eight runs down would have been the biggest in team history.
The international signing period begins Monday, and the Twins are set to land one of the better prospects out of Venezuela.
Misael Urbina is ranked as the 10th-best international prospect by Baseball America. He’s a switch-hitting center fielder with some power, and observers believe he will be able to remain in center, where his power would be a plus.
The Twins will not make the signing official until after Urbina passes a physical.
Alexander Pena, another outfielder from Venezuela, is also linked to the Twins.
Twins next for Larnach
With an NCAA championship secured for his Oregon State Beavers, outfielder Trevor Larnach now can sign with the Twins.
Larnach was never expected to be a tough sign, and the sides are putting the finishing touches on a deal that could be announced early this week. Larnach is expected to be in the Twin Cities this week to take a physical and sign the contract.
The Twins selected Larnach with the 20th overall pick of the draft, and the recommended bonus for that slot is $3.1 million.
Oregon State beat Arkansas on Thursday to win the three-game final series at the College World Series.
“[Scouting director] Sean Johnson obviously will connect and take the next steps around this,” Twins Chief Baseball Officer Derek Falvey said. “I’m hopeful that it’s soon.”