One pitcher had found Target Field troublesome, but he was almost perfect. One pitcher had been perfect at Target Field, but he found trouble.
“Just a product of bad timing,” said Taylor Rogers, and he would know.
Rogers gave up his first run in front of the home fans all season Monday, and talk about bad timing: Orlando Arcia jolted an eighth-inning fastball into the left-field bleachers, a two-run homer that completed the Brewers’ comeback from an early four-run deficit. Milwaukee held on for a 5-4 victory that ended the Twins’ six-game winning streak.
The Brewers handed the Twins only their second loss this season in a game they led after seven innings. But the Twins, winners of 11 of their past 13 games, still hold a 10-game AL Central lead over Cleveland.
“It’s the nature of the business,” Rogers said after giving up his first home run since April 4. “It’s been a while since this happened so, good news. I don’t have my head in the sand, I know it’s going to happen. Probably happen again.”
The home run by Arcia, younger brother of former Twins outfielder Oswaldo Arcia, overshadowed what the Twins certainly hope was a breakout performance by Michael Pineda, whose gradual improvement this season has largely involved road games. Pineda entered the evening with a 6.20 ERA at Target Field but mowed down the first six batters he faced, and the final 12, too.
In between came a three-batter hiccup, the only hitters that Pineda allowed to reach base, but they did significant damage. Keston Hiura led off the third inning with a single, Eric Thames followed with one of his own and Arcia doubled in a run. Pineda reverted to his untouchable form after that, though a pair of sacrifice flies made it a three-run inning, the last scored by Arcia when Byron Buxton’s throw from center field struck him in the back as he neared home plate.
“I consider this a very positive start. That’s a tough lineup,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “You have to make a lot of good pitches to get through that lineup, and Big Mike did that. … He certainly pitched well enough to win. You play that out all over again, and he pitches a game we win.”
It certainly would have been more likely had the Twins triggered their standard homer barrage, but they were kept mostly in check. Only in the second inning, when three singles ahead of Buxton’s three-run blast into the bullpens gave the Twins a 4-0 lead — their 55th homer of the month, tying May 1964 as the most in one month in franchise history — did the offense resemble the wrecking crew that ran the White Sox out of town.
“Sometimes it’s a good day, sometimes no,” said Eddie Rosario, who singled and scored on Luis Arraez’s RBI single just before Buxton’s homer. “Everybody’s doing a good job. Byron did a good job today. [Offensive droughts] are just something that happens.”
So are ninth-inning rallies, which the Twins nearly pulled off against Milwaukee’s bullpen ace, fireballing lefthander Josh Hader. The Twins managed a serious threat with two outs to go, with Jonathan Schoop drawing a walk and C.J. Cron lining a single. But Hader, working his second inning, got Rosario to fly to shallow center on one pitch, then got into a classic power duel with Miguel Sano: Three pitches. Three fastballs. Three mighty misses.
“He is tough. He’s one of the best at what he does, and he has a real weapon that he can rely on,” Baldelli said. “You know what’s coming, and he challenges you. He does a good job.”