Another long night for the Twins, who can’t wait to get home after tomorrow’s game:
— No starting pitcher has gone more than six innings since last Sunday, and none has survived even five innings since Tuesday. So Ervin Santana’s meltdown Saturday was exactly what the Twins didn’t need. The bullpen, already worn thin, was beaten and battered by an Indians team enjoying some hittable pitching.
Santana, his manager said, was obviously overmatched from the start. “He obviously wasn’t locating his fastball, and his offspeed pitches [the Indians] were taking,” Paul Molitor said. “They were squaring up almost every fastball in the zone.”
The veteran righthander mostly shrugged, saying he couldn’t explain it, either. “Every pitch I threw, location was not good. I was behind the count for the most part,” Santana said. “You hope they hit it at people, but today they didn’t.”
Santana, who gave the Twins hope with back-to-back scoreless starts in mid-July after being suspended for the first half of the season, lost his third straight start on Saturday, and this one was his ugliest yet: He retired just seven batters and allowed eight runs. Santana’s ERA in his last three starts is 10.93.
— Lost in the carnage of the pitching staff was the Twins’ best power showing on the road this year: Three home runs, tying the three they hit in Milwaukee on June 27. And the identity of the sluggers was even more unique: Joe Mauer, whose last homer came exactly one month earlier; Kurt Suzuki, who hadn’t hit one since June 20; and Eddie Rosario, who had never hit a home run on the road.
— Blaine Boyer’s problem with first batters makes him a bad risk with the bases loaded, but Molitor didn’t feel like he had much choice on Saturday. Ryan O’Rourke had walked all three hitters he faced, and thrown a wild pitch, so Molitor didn’t want him facing right-handed pinch-hitter Jerry Sands. Boyer got the call, and his familiar problem — the first batter he faces has 16 hits and five walks in 50 plate appearances — cropped up again at the worst time. Boyer quickly fell behind 2-and-0, then left a fastball over the plate. Sands became the first pinch-hitter to crush a grand slam against the Twins since Jason Bartlett, then of the Rays, in 2010.
— Despite the gloom in the clubhouse, Shane Robinson’s enthusiasm for getting to pitch was a nice highlight. He said he was nervous, but took on all the mannerisms of a pitcher, even stalking around the mound after walking the first batter, mostly out of nervousness, he said. Since the bases were loaded, he couldn’t throw as hard as he wanted, because he was fearful of throwing a wild pitch, so each of his pitches tracked by mlb.com were labeled changeups. “I was throwing darts out there,” he said. He said Trevor Plouffe told him that he was hoping to pitch in the game, “but I was like, ‘No, you’re not. You’ve got a little too much contract. Just stay over at third base.”
And after striking out Sands to end the eighth, he checked the pitch-tracker in the clubhouse. “I spotted it,” Robinson said. “I watched it on k-zone — it’s right on the edge” of the strike zone.