The Twins have a reasonably good record this season, but they have a lousy sense of timing.
For the third consecutive series finale Sunday, the Twins were left to remind themselves that they did OK, that they made progress, that they are getting better. But it’s a lot harder to believe it when you get blown out.
This time it was an 11-3 loss to the Rays, a game in which Tampa Bay small-balled Twins starter Kyle Gibson, eviscerated Minnesota’s bullpen and piled up 19 hits, failures that obscure the overall successes of the weekend. The Twins took two out of three, remember.
“It’s like [last week’s] road trip — we went 3-3, but the last game [a 13-1 loss in Detroit] leaves a bad taste in your mouth,” manager Paul Molitor said. “Tampa has been playing very well, and we had a couple of nice wins. But today? Not very competitive.”
Actually, Gibson, who fell to 3-3, was impressive in how he worked out of three major jams in five innings, because his three runs could have been much worse. Three times, he left runners in scoring position.
“He was fighting a little bit. He’s not really a nibbler, but sometimes it looks that way from the side because he can’t seem to find the release point to make the pitches he’d like to,” Molitor said. “But he hung in there.”
But when Gibson departed after throwing 94 pitches, the Rays started rolling up the runs. Brian Duensing recorded one out and gave up three runs. Michael Tonkin got two outs, but allowed two more runs. Aaron Thompson served up three more runs in the ninth, while recording only two outs. It’s the most runs the bullpen has allowed in one game — tying the eight they gave up Thursday in Detroit.
All that offense really wasn’t necessary, considering the Twins couldn’t do much against Rays starter Chris Archer. The righthander walked Brian Dozier in the first inning, who moved up on a groundout and scored on a Joe Mauer single — but that was the extent of Minnesota’s offense until the game turned lopsided. Archer gave up only four hits over six innings, all of them singles.
Tim Stauffer’s relief outing didn’t go well, either. The righthander, on a rehab assignment with Class AAA Rochester, was supposed to pitch three innings against Lehigh Valley on Sunday, “and then we’ll make a decision,” General Manager Terry Ryan said. But Stauffer, recovering from a strained intercostal muscle, wound up recording only four outs. He was removed after allowing two runs on four hits and two walks.
Fien is pain-free
Casey Fien threw in the bullpen Sunday and reported no pain in his right shoulder. The Twins’ chief set-up reliever, on the disabled list since April 30, will throw another bullpen session Wednesday, Ryan said, before a decision is made on whether he can return to action right away, or go on a rehab assignment.
Just don’t get hurt
With their first games in National League parks coming up, Twins pitchers have been taking a watered-down form of batting practice lately. Molitor made it clear he doesn’t expect much from his pitchers when they go to the plate.
“You just don’t want guys to get hurt,” he said, “and if they get a chance to move a runner, that’d be great.”
By coincidence, the Twins’ two starters with extensive National League experience, former Met and Dodger Ricky Nolasco and former Met Mike Pelfrey, will start the two games in Pittsburgh.
“We’ve had them out a couple of times, bunting and swinging,” Molitor said. “It’s kind of challenging for the American League teams, because the [interleague] games are so spread out, to keep pitchers ready throughout the course of the season.”