CLEVELAND — It may be the lamest yeah-but in history: The Twins closed one of their worst road trips ever on Sunday by being routed yet again, this time 8-1 to the Indians.
Yeah, but: They weren’t no-hit.
Joe Mauer, after barely avoiding a strikeout on a foul tip into the dirt, lined a solid single to left field in the seventh inning, ending a serious no-hit bid by reigning Cy Young winner Corey Kluber. Thus disappointed, Kluber gave up a double to Shane Robinson and an RBI double to Aaron Hicks in the ninth, spoiling his shutout bid, too.
The Twins, who fell below .500 at 55-56 for the first time since they were 11-12 on May 1, struck out 10 times, popped up a couple, and in what felt like it might be their biggest scoring threat of the day, Hicks drew a one-out walk in the fourth inning, only to be quickly erased on a double play.
Kluber appeared in total control all day, and seemed headed to becoming the sixth pitcher ever to no-hit the Twins. Instead, Minnesota was held to just three hits, the ninth time this season they have been held to three or fewer hits.
The no-hit bid briefly took the attention away from the ongoing futility of the Twins’ pitching, and in particular the starting pitchers. Phil Hughes was the starter in this one, a happy coincidence manager Paul Molitor said, because he could be counted upon to turn in a six- or seven-inning performance.
Instead, he became the fifth consecutive Twins starter to fail to manage five innings. Hughes lasted only three innings, his shortest outing of the season and equaling his shortest as a Twin, and he allowed seven runs, his worst outing as a Twin.
Hughes gave up nine hits, four of them doubles plus a two-run homer by rookie outfielder Abraham Almonte, and appeared shell-shocked as he trudged to the dugout after a four-run third inning.
That just makes him like his teammates, however, because this week of torture in Toronto and Cleveland has decimated the pitching staff, particularly the starters. In seven games, six of them losses, Twins starters lasted just 27 1/3 innings, or fewer than four per game, while allowing an average of two hits per inning, 54 in all, and eight of them home runs.
The grim total: 42 runs by the starters, a cumulative ERA of 13.83.
The Twins left Minnesota one week ago in possession of a wild-card berth, and four games above break-even. After being outscored 60-27 over the past seven days, they are four games out of a playoff spot.