BOSTON – Miguel Sano had one last chance to atone for his latest error when the Twins third baseman stepped to plate against Boston’s Brad Ziegler with two outs in the ninth inning Sunday.
“I tried to get on base, get a good pitch and try to hit a homer,” Sano said, “or something like that.”
He took three balls from Ziegler before taking a strike, fouling a pitch off and then missing a fastball for the final out of the Twins’ 8-7 loss to Boston.
And that led to him having to discuss his defensive adventures — again.
Except for a 13-2 loss on Thursday, the Twins caused problems for the Red Sox all weekend at Fenway Park, knocking Boston out of first place in the AL East by winning 2-1 Friday and 11-9 Saturday. Sunday’s game turned on the Twins when they handed Boston an extra out in the fifth inning, and the Red Sox capitalized with four unearned runs.
With the score tied 3-3 with one out in the fifth, Dustin Pedroia homered off Tommy Milone to give Boston the lead. Xander Bogaerts — who batted a mind-blowing .656 against the Twins this season — then singled to center.
Milone, while facing Hanley Ramirez, seemed to have Bogaerts picked off first base. Bogaerts, however, raced to second and avoided Brian Dozier’s tag attempt. Ramirez reached on an infield hit, putting runners at the corners.
After Jackie Bradley Jr. struck out, Aaron Hill sent a hot grounder toward Sano. “It came like a low line drive,” Sano said. “The last bounce was high.”
The ball got by Sano for a run-scoring error, and instead of the inning being over, Boston led 5-3. Travis Shaw followed with a three-run homer.
“When I’m in the field, I try to do the most I can do every day,” Sano said. “And I try to play hard and catch every ball.”
But the one constant through the series was Sano’s glovework at third. He committed errors in each of the last three games, giving him a whopping 10 as a third baseman — all coming in his past 15 games.
Sano remains a threat at the plate. He had three hits Saturday, including a home run, then singled and scored in the eighth inning Sunday, but he’s canceling out his production with his glove.
“I haven’t seen the replay of the ground ball that got by Miggy,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “Instead of a potential one-run deficit and coming off the field, they turned in four extra runs, and now you have a mountain to climb.”
The Twins nearly climbed that mountain. Byron Buxton hit a two-run single in the seventh off starter Rick Porcello (13-2), who despite giving up five runs improved to 10-0 at home. Kennys Vargas hit a sacrifice fly in the eighth, and then, two batters later, Juan Centeno added an RBI single to pull within 8-7.
The rally fell short, as Buxton struck out with runners at the corners, making the Twins’ defensive work — Sano’s in particular — more glaring.
Friday, Sano dropped a routine pop-up. Saturday, he gave up on a pop-up, thinking it was going to left field, but it landed just a few feet away from him. There have been two other times in the past month he has dropped pop-ups — including one at Class AAA Rochester that hit him in the head.
“I miss too many pop-ups like that,” Sano said. “It’s tough for me. I feel frustration. I don’t like to make mistakes like that. And then I feel bad at that moment. It is important that the team wins. But I feel really bad in the moment like that because if I make an error like that in the ninth inning with the bases loaded, that’s bad.
“I don’t feel good when I make mistakes like that.”