Fernando Abad has been one of the best things going for the Twins this season. Now even he is faltering.
Abad left a 10th-inning fastball over the plate to Ian Desmond, and the outfielder planted it in the seats in right-center for a home run that sent the Rangers to a 3-2 victory over the Twins at Target Field on Friday night. Trevor Plouffe’s two-run homer was the only offense the Twins mustered as Texas lefthander Martin Perez pitched seven strong innings and was backed up by his bullpen.
Abad had a 0.47 ERA on May 29 but has posted an 8.22 ERA over his past nine outings. He has taken the loss in three of his past four outings, including two days in a row. His 1-1 pitch to Desmond was right down the runway, and Desmond didn’t miss it.
“I don’t see a big change,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said of his lefthander in recent outings. “Obviously that fastball wasn’t where he wanted it, but he’s still one of our guys back there at the end of games.”
A night of sputtering offense, poor execution and no relief from the bullpen fueled the Twins’ third consecutive defeat — a place they have been time and time again. They now have had 12 losing streaks of at least three games. And we’re just starting July.
Perez and Ervin Santana were locked in a pretty good duel. Perez, throwing 94-miles-per-hour fastballs with nasty sink, didn’t give up a hit until Plouffe’s infield single to start the fifth. Robbie Grossman followed with another a single, and Max Kepler bunted the runners over.
But the Twins tried to squeeze Plouffe home, and Kurt Suzuki popped up the bunt to Mitch Moreland. That began an inning-ending double play.
“Just one of those situations that came up,” Molitor said. “Didn’t work out. Didn’t get the ball down.”
Molitor’s next gamble came in the seventh with one on with one out. He went to the mound to check on Santana, who was sitting on 110 pitches, and left him in. Seven pitches later, Molitor was back on the mound, as Santana had walked Elvis Andrus.
Ryan Pressly replaced Santana and gave up singles to Moreland and Jurickson Profar, both coming on 0-2 pitches. The latter single scored Andrus and Prince Fielder for the first runs of the game.
Santana said he was excited to get the chance to get through the seventh. “I was just trying to look for a ground ball double play to get out of the inning,” he said, “but, sorry.”
Plouffe answered in the bottom of the inning when he blasted a tying two-run homer to right. It was Plouffe’s seventh home run of the season and 91st of his career — but according to baseball-reference.com, it’s the first time he has hit one to straightaway right field.
The Twins returned to regular programming after that, as they stranded a runner in the ninth and wasted a leadoff single by Kepler in the 10th.
“We just tried to find another way to keep pushing,” Molitor said. “We couldn’t get another run across.”