Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said there is something to play for in the remaining 24 games. Teams can embrace the spoiler role against teams contending for the postseason. And teams such the Twins can work on escaping the AL Central cellar.
“Us and the White Sox are in our own little race, which is not fun to be in,” Gardenhire said.
The last-place Twins entered Tuesday’s game at Target Field two games behind the White Sox in the division, so there is the motivation to not be the caboose of the AL Central train. Individually, players can try to impress for next season, but a couple of Twins pitchers fell a tad short of that Tuesday in a 6-3, 10-inning loss. The Twins have lost eight of their past 10 games, and things are smelling a lot like last September when the club floundered to a 8-20 record during the final month of the season.
Will this year’s group settle into that worn-out groove once again? It’s possible, if they pitch like they did Tuesday.
Righthander Lester Oliveros made his first major league appearance since June 14, 2012, hitting 95 miles per hour with a couple of his fastballs. But he tried to blow one fastball too many past Dayan Viciedo in the 10th inning, leaving one in the middle of the strike zone, and the White Sox slugger hit an opposite-field homer to break a 3-3 tie.
“It was a little up,” Oliveros said.
Three batters later, Tyler Flowers cranked another fastball to the opposite field for a two-run homer to make it 6-3. Flowers hit two home runs in the game, his first multi-homer game, and drove in four runs.
“He’s got a great fastballs but [it’s] two different levels,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said of Oliveros. “You better be able to spin the ball, and he really didn’t spin the ball very good.”
The Twins shut out Chicago for seven innings to extend the game, making up for another poor outing by lefthander Tommy Milone, who has a 7.84 ERA in five starts since joining the team.
Milone was erratic once again as he was knocked out in the fourth inning with a whopping 86 pitches thrown. He missed his spots all night and left one big fat pitch over the middle of the plate to Flowers in the second that was driven into the bullpen area for a two-run homer.
In 3 ⅔ innings, Milone gave up three runs on five hits and four walks — tying a season high — while striking out three. Milone doesn’t throw hard and has little room for error.
“They did a good job of getting on base and putting pressure on me,” Milone said. “After the first inning I wasn’t making good pitches. Hats off to them for forcing the issue.”
Another prospect down
Nick Gordon, the fifth overall pick in the June draft, will miss the rest of the Appalachian League playoffs and perhaps all of instructional league play after suffering a broken left index finger.
Gordon, a shortstop prospect, was jammed with a pitch during a game against Junction City but felt well enough to stay in the game. When it swelled after the game, an X-ray was ordered and the break was revealed.
Twins assistant general manager Rob Antony said by the time Gordon recovers, he will have missed most of the organization’s fall instructional league.
• The Twins, before Wednesday’s game, will honor the career of White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko, who is retiring after 18 seasons, 16 with the White Sox.