NEW YORK – The Twins were the victims of a perfect game on Saturday.
Well, Friday, too. And it actually began on Wednesday.
Andrew Miller struck out Byung Ho Park in the eighth inning Saturday, the 27th consecutive batter retired by the Yankees bullpen over the past three games. The “perfect” relief game made all the difference, because the Twins, particularly shortstop Eduardo Escobar, were quite a bit less than perfect. An Escobar error enabled the tiebreaking run to score and the Yankees eked out their 10th win in their past 11 games against the Twins, 2-1 at Yankee Stadium.
“Good players learn from their mistakes,” Escobar said after committing his third error in two days here, giving him eight on the season. The sudden glove-slump “doesn’t make me not a good player,” he said. “I’m just going to learn from it and move on.”
Just like the Twins will move on from their latest plunge into baseball’s dark cellar. Saturday’s loss was their third in a row, a dismally common feat: In only 74 games, the Twins have managed a remarkable — eleven — losing streaks of three games or longer, a couple of them two or three times that long.
Escobar booted Starlin Castro’s potential inning-ending double-play ball in the eighth inning, and Aaron Hicks scored on the play to lift New York to its fifth consecutive home victory over the Twins. “What is there to say? I went to get it, the ball came out of my glove, and what happened, happened,” Escobar said through an interpreter. “It was hard, hit hard. At that point, there’s not much you can do but throw your glove at it.”
Twins manager Paul Molitor said he has lost no confidence in his starting shortstop. “He’s got a very accurate throwing arm, his hands are, most of the time, reliable,” Molitor said. “The numbers are still respectable. He’s just had a couple of rough days.”
The only Twins player who experienced a comparable disappointment was reliever Ryan Pressly, who took his fourth loss thanks to one bad break after another. Called upon to pitch the eighth inning of a 1-1 game, Pressly watched helplessly as Alex Rodriguez led off with a soft roller up the third-base line that nobody could reach in time. Brian McCann followed with a soft looper over Park’s head that landed on the right-field line, sending pinch runner Hicks to third.
After striking out Mark Teixeira, Pressly appeared out of the inning when he induced Castro to hit the ball directly at Escobar, normally an easy double play. Instead? “They got the bounce,” Molitor said, “and they got the win.”
Another potential Yankee run was erased when Robbie Grossman threw out McCann at the plate moments later on an inning-ending double play, a call that was upheld after a video review. But it wasn’t much of a break, not against this bullpen.
New York starter Michael Pineda gave up two hits over six innings, his strongest start of the season, but he was practically an afterthought to those who succeeded him. Dellin Betances needed only nine pitches to retire the Twins in the seventh, Andrew Miller hung around for 12 pitches in a 1-2-3 eighth, and Aroldis Chapman … wait, he gave up a hit? Yep, Joe Mauer slapped an opposite-field, two-out single off the Yankees closer, ending New York’s relief streak at 31 straight outs. Not that it did much good; Chapman simply struck out Brian Dozier on three pitches to end the game.
“They have one of the best pitching staffs in the whole game, same thing as Kansas City, and their bullpen is even better,” Escobar said. “You can’t take too much from them, and if you get to their bullpen, you’re basically done.”