Lance Lynn made his Twins debut in Pittsburgh on April 2, and he closed the month with a start against Toronto on Monday. And in between?
“It has been the worst month of my career,” Lynn said, “and I’m ready for it to be over.”
So are the Twins. They finished the month with their 10th loss in 11 games, 7-5 to the Toronto Blue Jays at Target Field, and enter May with only two fewer losses than they had during their horrific 2016 slog. Goodbye April, indeed.
“Everything that could possibly happen, happened. That kind of seems to be the way things are going right now,” Lynn said after falling to 0-3 and boosting his ERA to 8.37. “I’m looking forward to May, that’s for sure.”
Lynn’s 16 April victories are the most of any month, and he had never posted an ERA higher than 3.63 to open the season. But Monday, he gave up six runs on seven hits (two of them home runs) and five walks in five innings, the fourth time he has given up five or more runs.
It’s not just him, of course. For the seventh time in nine games, the Twins starter didn’t reach the sixth inning. The team hasn’t received back-to-back quality starts since their first series of the year at Baltimore.
Lynn’s control was a mess again; with five walks Monday, he has 23 on the season, tying him for the most in the majors. He also has run the count to 3-0 on 11 batters, sixth most in the majors this year (and behind teammate Jake Odorizzi, the MLB leader with 15).
“He’s still having a little trouble with his command,” manager Paul Molitor said. “He expects a lot from himself. I thought the [eight-pitch, 1-2-3] first inning might be something, but it kind of regressed. I’m not going to doubt that he’s going to keep getting after it and find a way to get going in the right direction.”
All those extra baserunners make Lynn vulnerable to bad bounces and unlucky breaks, as was the case in the second inning, when the Blue Jays loaded the bases with one out.
That brought up Lourdes Gurriel, whose MLB career was only 25 at-bats old. It produced the mismatch the Twins were looking for, when Gurriel was overpowered by a low fastball. He tapped a slow roller up the third-base line, and catcher Mitch Garver quickly caught up to the ball. But rather than pick it up and tag Yangervis Solarte as he was forced to run home, Garver chose to let the ball roll, hoping it would go foul.
Perhaps it did — replays were close — but when Garver picked up the ball, umpire Adam Hamari ruled it fair, a call that’s not reviewable by replay, and all the runners were safe.
“Not sure what the thought process was there,” Molitor said. “We were looking to make an out on that play if we could.”
After a strikeout, Lynn walked Curtis Granderson to force in another run, a hint of things to come. Toronto loaded the bases without scoring in the third inning, then struck for three more in the fourth — one run scoring on a Garver passed ball, two more on Justin Smoak’s long home run. And Russell Martin added a solo shot in the fifth.
The Twins managed to get within a run, getting a two-run homer from Eduardo Escobar and a triple and two doubles from Max Kepler. But in the ninth inning, they gave up an unearned run after an Eddie Rosario error, then left the tying run on second against closer Roberto Osuna.
So the night’s best news is that Tuesday is May 1.
“We can’t do anything about the past,” Garver said. “It’s a new month. … We’re going to go out and give ’em hell.”