Big things, memorable things, historic things, sometimes the Twins do them pretty well. Home runs, for instance: Brian Dozier became the 13th Twin (and the first middle infielder) to hit 30 home runs in a season Wednesday, and the Twins reached the 150-homer milestone, too, on pace for their most long balls since 1987.
But the little things, the small mistakes both mental and physical — those continue to bedevil and ultimately wreck the Twins. So it was yet again Wednesday, when a baserunning gaffe cost Minnesota a run, a failure to turn a difficult double play provided the Tigers an extra out, and Detroit took advantage of it all to roll to a 9-4 victory at Target Field.
“Nine runs with two outs — it’s kind of painful,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said, but it’s a pain he’s well familiar with: The Twins have allowed 287 runs with two outs this season, easily the most in baseball, a whopping 38 more than the next-worst AL team, and already far more runs than the 261 they allowed last year.
Miguel Cabrera collected four hits, including a home run and two doubles, to lead Detroit’s 14-hit onslaught, and the Twins had little luck against Matt Boyd. But at least they have Dozier, who smashed a fifth-inning fastball into the left field seats, making him the first Twin since Josh Willingham in 2012 to reach the 30-homer milestone.
“He’s getting pitches, and he’s not missing,” Molitor said. “It’s been incredible to watch.”
With a week to go in August, the second baseman needs only one more homer to join Harmon Killebrew and Jimmie Hall as the only Twins ever to connect a dozen times in a single month. And that’s with a home run wiped off the books earlier this month by a rainout.
For the eighth time this month, however, Dozier’s home run came in yet another loss, this one the Twins’ sixth in a row. That’s the longest losing streak since May 3-13, and has dropped the Twins to 28 games below .500 at 49-77, one loss away from the season’s low-water mark.
They hurt their case with those seemingly minor mistakes. In the first inning, with the bases loaded and one out, Eduardo Escobar bounced a ball to Tigers second baseman Andrew Romine. Jorge Polanco veered out of the baseline to avoid the tag, and was called out; Romine’s throw to first base resulted in an inning-ending double play. Had Polanco stopped between bases, forcing Romine to either chase him or throw to first base, a run would have scored.
‘‘There’s just not a way you can allow them to finish the double play to get off the field,” said Molitor, who talked to Polanco about his mistake between innings. “He thought he could outrun the play.”
In the third inning, the Tigers had a runner on first when first baseman Trevor Plouffe fielded a hot smash and tagged first base. But his relay to second was off-line, and the double play, admittedly a challenging one, wasn’t completed. The Tigers made the Twins pay when Cabrera doubled, and after an intentional walk, J.D. Martinez singled and Justin Upton capped the five-run inning with a three-run shot deep into the left field stands.
That ended Tyler Duffey’s night, another dud: six runs over three innings, the fifth time in seven starts he’s allowed five or more runs. Duffey’s ERA has ballooned to 6.24 on the season.
• Hector Santiago’s next scheduled start will be taken by Pat Dean on Friday in order to give Santiago’s bruised left thumb a chance to heal completely.
• Lefthanded reliever Buddy Boshers (elbow inflammation) will pitch a bullpen session Thursday, and another one this weekend if all goes well.
• Tommy Milone and Trevor May won’t throw off a mound until the Twins return from their upcoming weeklong road trip. The Twins won’t have the option of giving them rehab appearances, because minor league seasons end Sept. 5.