Major League Baseball is willing to look into pushing back the trade deadline so teams can have more time to evaluate their rosters.
If this year’s deadline was later in the summer, the Twins might suddenly be sellers instead of buyers.
They currently hold one of the two wild-card spots in the American League, but that hold has become tenuous. Wednesday afternoon’s 10-4 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates at Target Field was a doozy, featuring poor defense and baserunning.
“Things just aren’t going our way,” outfielder Aaron Hicks said. “One big hit after another. We’re trying to stop it and it hasn’t been happening. And errors aren’t helping, either.”
They sizzled into the All-Star break with a deep starting rotation, functional bullpen and enough offense to string together victories. Since the break they are 3-8. They have been outscored 63-41, a minus-22 run differential.
Seven times since the break, the Twins have given up at least four runs in an inning.
These are not traits of a playoff team. They are representative of the previous four seasons of 90-loss baseball.
“You can look at a lot of areas that need improvement with the way we have been playing,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “Starting probably with managing and coaching. When you look around and we’re making mistakes defensively and on the bases, little things you’d like to clean up, I don’t think we have played a clean game for a while.”
Their three errors Wednesday tied a season high.
Twins righthander Ervin Santana, whose scoreless streak of 16 ⅔ innings ended, failed to catch a throw from Joe Mauer while covering first base.
That was only a warmup for the sixth inning.
With two on, two outs and the Pirates ahead, Andrew McCutchen lined a single to right field that Eddie Rosario allowed to skip by him and roll to the wall.
“Rosario got caught in between on McCutchen’s ball and the ball scooted by him. Maybe partially concert-related, but I’m not sure,” said Molitor, alluding to parts of the field that had to be replaced because of a concert held before the homestand.
Two runs scored, and McCutchen headed for third. Rosario’s throw got by Eduardo Nunez and rolled into foul territory behind third base. Nunez turned and went for the ball, only to crash into McCutchen, who had rounded third.
Both men fell. McCutchen jogged home as the ball rolled into the Pirates dugout because the Twins didn’t back up the play.
Rosario and Nunez were charged with errors.
Santana (2-1) gave up six earned runs, eight hits and four walks over 5 ⅔ innings. His five Twins starts have consisted of three outstanding outings and two wrecks.
The Twins could not hit their way back into the game against former teammate Francisco Liriano and the Pirates bullpen. Liriano (7-6) gave up two earned and 10 hits over 5 ⅔ innings, with no walks and four strikeouts.
Hicks was the best thing going for the Twins on Wednesday, going 3-for-5 and driving in a run.
Miguel Sano was 2-for-5 with two RBI but was thrown out at first base in the third inning when he overran the bag following an RBI single. He made the final out of the game the same way, when he hit an RBI double, then was thrown out while thinking about third.
It was a fitting end.
The Twins have a chance to reach the postseason for the first time since 2010. General Manager Terry Ryan and his staff are working the phones, trying to find, at least, bullpen help. Five teams are within 3 ½ games of the Twins in the wild-card standings — with the Twins falling back to the pack.
They are turning back the clock to 2014.
“The games have gotten off to a decent start, for the most part, and have been deteriorating late,” Molitor said. “So we’re going to talk about that individually or maybe as a group about how we’re handling the situations we’re in.”