Variations of an old quote dictate that once is an accident or maybe happenstance. Twice could be a coincidence or fluke. But three times is probably a pattern.
Or enemy action, according to a James Bond novel. But that seems a little extreme for explaining how the Twins are 0-3 in extra innings this season.
Taylor Rogers swears the Twins aren't developing some Pavlovian losing response to free baseball.
"I don't think it's anything that we know about to be in our heads to try to get over it," Rogers said after taking the loss Saturday in a the Seattle Mariners' 4-3 victory in 10 innings at Target Field. "I don't even think we realize that that's the case."
But Rogers did admit to not being thrilled at owning a 0-1 record now despite giving up only one hit and one unearned run in his two innings Saturday. He said the rule where teams start with extra innings with a runner at second base — implemented during 2020's 60-game season and carried over into 2021 — is "tough."
Seattle advanced its runner, Taylor Trammell, off Braden Bishop's bunt single that Rogers couldn't grasp firmly, putting runners at the corners.
"You feel like your joints are moving a little bit slower than normal," Rogers said of playing in the chilly 47-degree temperature. "Just the grip alone is difficult. That's a tough play. He's a little bit of a fast runner. You've got to be clean with it to get him. And I wasn't all the way clean with it. So had to pocket it and try to not make things worse."
Rogers got one out when J.P. Crawford grounded to third without scoring Trammell, but he then gave up a sacrifice fly to Mitch Haniger after getting ahead 0-2. In the bottom of the inning with Jorge Polanco on second, Willians Astudillo popped out, Jake Cave — who pinch ran for Nelson Cruz and scored the tying run in the eighth inning — did the same and Byron Buxton grounded out to seal the loss.
The Twins haven't managed any production in these three 10th innings of 2021, but manager Rocco Baldelli isn't jumping into panic mode yet. "I'm not going to evaluate anything going on based on a dozen at-bats," he said. "… We have good hitters. We're sending guys out there that we think are good matchups in those situations, and our guys are going to come through."
Baldelli added he could see the Twins changing the strategy a bit in the future for something like a sacrifice bunt just for the sake of advancing the free runner. But he still prefers trusting his hitters to do their thing and winning the game outright.
"You never like to say it comes down to chance," he said. "… It has come down in those few games for us to plays that may not seem like big plays."
An announced sellout crowd of 9,817 saw the Twins rally twice to tie earlier in the game. Trammell and Haniger homered off Michael Pineda in the third inning, but the Twins tied it on Cruz's two-run homer in the bottom of the inning. In the eighth inning, Seager's two-out RBI single drove in Crawford from second, but the Twins again tied it when Cave scored on a wild pitch.
Pineda lasted six innings, giving up four hits and two runs while striking out six. Seattle lefthander Yusei Kikuchi also went six innings, giving up five hits and two runs with two walks and six strikeouts.
Pineda said the Twins aren't trying to focus too much on the extra-inning rule since it's ultimately outside of their control. And even Rogers finds some positives in it, such as being spared from a 17-inning marathon that could result in relievers being sent to the minors for fresh arms.
"Bigger picture, I think that's probably the best move," he said. "But right now, it kind of stings."