One month ago, Ricky Nolasco dominated the Brewers in Milwaukee, got plenty of run support and coasted to victory, his ERA at 2.66 and his record a spotless 1-0.
Little did he know: One win is all that Twins starters get.
So it seems anyway, because Nolasco hasn’t gotten another, and neither have any of his teammates in the rotation. On Monday, the veteran righthander gave up six runs, retired only eight batters and absorbed the loss in Kansas City’s soggy, rain-interrupted 10-4 rout of the Twins at Target Field.
“Right from the get-go things weren’t very good. [I was] struggling with mechanics, [and I] put the team in a big hole early,” Nolasco said after his ERA swelled to 8.09 in May and 5.54 for the season. “… I’d throw a good one and then a bad one. There just was no consistency tonight. This loss is on me.”
It’s his sixth consecutive start without a victory — his sixth consecutive start with four or more runs allowed, actually — but that’s a big club on this team. The Twins have played 44 games this season, and none of their starters has two wins to his name. Nolasco’s effort was the 16th game this season started by a one-win Twins pitcher — and it was the 16th time that starter failed to collect his second.
“Ricky’s had some decent starts along the way. Tonight wasn’t his best,” manager Paul Molitor said. “I thought, with his command, the breaking ball was kind of lingering over the heart of the plate. A lot of their hits seemed to be on offspeed pitches.”
Speaking of offspeed, the Twins’ rough night was punctuated by some slow-motion defense by Miguel Sano, who raced back to the right-field wall in an attempt to catch Salvador Perez’s deep fly ball in the seventh inning. The ball struck the wall and ricocheted toward the infield, but Sano didn’t pursue it at top speed. By the time center fielder Danny Santana arrived to pick up the ball, Perez had reached third, one of his career-high five hits on the night.
Molitor discussed the play with Sano between innings, but he was hesitant to be too critical after the game, since he hadn’t watched the video.
“I think maybe he assumed that either [Eduardo] Nunez or Danny were going to be in better position to recover after he got himself too close to the wall to make the catch,” Molitor said. “But yeah, you want him to go for the ball even if you think someone might be there to help you out. Sometimes you get caught assuming out there and it doesn’t look too good.”
Not much looks too good for the home team at Target Field these days, though the Twins did come alive with 12 hits, the most they have had since April 26. Worst of all, Molitor said, was the fact that the Twins took a 2-1 lead after the first inning — getting a homer from Joe Mauer and an RBI single from Robbie Grossman — but then gave it right back with a second-inning run. Kansas City then took control with four runs off Nolasco in the third before the rain came.
“We’ve talked about the deflation factor on a day-to-day basis, our ability to sustain through those things. [Royals starter Ian] Kennedy wasn’t particularly sharp early, so we did get a brief lead there,” Molitor said. “They answered right back. We always talk about, the innings after you score, trying to shut them down so you have a chance to add to the score, but it didn’t work out that way tonight.”