CLEVELAND – You've probably heard it since Little League: Tie goes to the runner. The Twins are changing that unwritten rule this year, though: Tie goes to the other guys.
And they're really getting tired of it.
The Twins blew a couple of leads Monday night, but held on to force a 10th inning — and everyone knows what that means. The visitors failed to score in their turn at bat, and the game lasted only three pitches longer. Jordan Luplow hit it, from luckless reliever Alexander Colome, into the left-field bleachers, handing the Twins their third consecutive loss and 12th in the past 14 games, 5-3 to Cleveland.
The Twins, whose seven victories tie them with Detroit for the fewest in baseball, fell to 0-5 in extra innings, and in four of those five they failed to score in the 10th inning. Colome absorbed his third loss, and the bullpen its eighth, most ever this early in a Minnesota season.
"The number of extra-inning games, and the number of these types of ballgames that we've played through [in] the first 21 games is almost not believable," Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. "I mean, it's pretty crazy."
So too, he insists, is the futility of Colome, one of the most consistent and successful late-inning relievers — until signing with the Twins over the winter. Colome, whose ERA stands at 6.75, has blown three saves, the first time he's done that in a single month since 2015, and he's lost three games, most ever for a single month of his career. Luplow's homer, on a cutter across the middle, was the second Colome has given up, after not giving up any in 2020.
"The first thing you do is show confidence. You continue to put him out there in situations he's familiar with, and where Alex has pitched for a long time, and pitched very well," Baldelli insisted. "Yeah, he's going through a tough time right now. We also can help him with some specific things on the mound to get him back to where he needs to be — and maybe also in some different types of situations."
But everyone in the Twins' clubhouse is going through difficulty now, Baldelli said.
"There's nobody in their right mind that could go through what has gone on the last three weeks and not think about it a little bit, and not at times find themselves wondering what we could do differently or what we could do better," the manager said. "[We] have to find a way to look up and know that what we do to get ready for games has worked for us very well."
Making the sudden loss more painful was the fact that it appeared for a while that the Twins' early-season peasants would rise up and storm Progressive Field. Four players in Minnesota's recently toothless lineup walked up to the plate, perhaps noticed their paltry sub-.200 batting averages in six-foot letters on the giant scoreboard, and proceeded to make a critical contribution to a run-scoring rally.
For Brent Rooker, hitting .095 coming in, it was a 412-foot homer to straightaway center, his first of the season. For Alex Kirilloff, 0-for-15 in his career at that point, it was a double to deep left-center, a hit that moved Nelson Cruz to third base, where he would score when Jorge Polanco, batting .197 at the time, drove him home with a deep fly ball. Jake Cave ignored his .150 average and led off the eighth by beating out an infield single, which turned into a tiebreaking run on Luis Arraez's two-out RBI hit.
But all that welcome assistance from their most slump-ridden corners still couldn't amount to enough to keep Cleveland at bay.
Jose Berrios surrendered a two-run lead before making a confusing and unexpected departure, and when the Twins went ahead once again, Tyler Duffey couldn't hold it, letting Jose Ramirez hook a home run just inside the right-field foul pole.
That set things up for extra innings, which have been cruel to the Twins all season.