Carlos Correa was positioned perfectly. The statistics showed that Charlie Blackmon tended to pull the ball to the right side, and when the Rockies designated hitter swung over the top of a sixth-inning fastball from Dylan Bundy, his ground ball hopped directly to the Twins shortstop, shifted to a spot about 15 feet on the right field side of second base.
And that's how the Twins lost to the Rockies.
With nobody to cover second base, Correa rushed to tag the bag and force out Yonathan Daza. But his throw to first base was too late to double up Blackmon and end the inning. Blackmon's hustle allowed Conner Joe to score Colorado's one and only run, which, for the 10th time this season, was enough to beat the oddly slump-prone Twins, 1-0 at Target Field.
No regrets about the game-deciding play, Correa said.
"A play [at] home, it's too risky," he said of his split-second decision to try for the inning-ending double play. "I'd rather let them score one run and trust that our offense can score, rather than throw it away and give them a chance to score three."
That trust turned out to be misplaced. Two days after the Twins erupted for 10 runs in seven innings, they are on a stretch of offensive impotence that has produced only one run over their past 19 innings. They mustered five hits in Thursday's 1-0 victory over Cleveland, then managed only three against Colorado righthander German Marquez and closer Daniel Bard.
All of which wasted Bundy's second consecutive quality start, three shutout innings by Tyler Duffey and Tyler Thornburg, three double plays converted by the Twins infield and a diving, run-saving catch by Max Kepler.
"I don't think anybody's going to be able to put a finger on" the cause of the frequent offensive blackouts, said catcher Ryan Jeffers, who doubled and walked twice. "We're one of the best offenses in the league. We believe that, whether or not we throw up goose eggs like we did today."
Bundy, who gave up one run over eight innings last Saturday at Arizona, got a lot of zeroes, too, facing only three batters in four of his six innings. He was touched for back-to-back singles in the sixth inning, setting up Blackmon's RBI forceout, and was pulled after throwing just 60 pitches.
But that lone run was enough to beat the Twins, who doggedly keep up their one-shutout-per-week average despite ranking fourth in the AL in scoring.
"It's a significant amount, but the last few [shutouts], I think [about] how many balls we absolutely got into," Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. "If we weren't hitting balls hard, it it was just a quiet, soft exit to the [shutout], I'd probably have a lot more to worry about."
Marquez, who came into the game with a 6.16 ERA but peeled half a run off of it, forced the Twins to hit ball after ball into the ground, recording 14 of his 23 outs on the ground.
The Twins' biggest threat — indeed, the only time a Twins player managed to reach third base — came in the eighth inning, when Jeffers led off the inning by coaxing Marquez's fifth walk. Pinch runner Kyle Garlick eventually reached third base with two outs, but Rockies manager Bud Black replaced Marquez with Bard, and he retired Kepler with just one pitch, a weak grounder to second.
Bard then pitched a routine ninth inning to record his 15th save and send the Twins to their fourth loss in five games.