DETROIT — The ball from Jermaine Palacios' first major league hit has been sitting in a plastic bag on Rocco Baldelli's desk at Comerica Park since the second game of Tuesday's doubleheader.
Now it will travel to Toronto and take up residence in Baldelli's office at Rogers Centre.
In order for the Twins manager to award the game ball to his rookie shortstop, the Twins have to win a game. And that did not happen once again Thursday as the Twins fell for the third time in a row, 3-2 to the Tigers. Daz Cameron's two-run homer in the eighth vaulted Detroit to the victory.
The Twins have lost seven of their past 10, but at 30-23 remain in first place by five games in the American League Central.
A three-game series against the Blue Jays — who are on an eight-game winning streak — begins Friday with the Twins' roster depleted on a couple of levels.
Injuries are one factor, including Sonny Gray, who will miss his Friday start while on the injured list with a right pectoral strain. COVID is another, as Joe Ryan and Carlos Correa are both out sick. And with Canada's vaccine laws, several players will be flying back to Minnesota instead of across the border because they are not vaccinated. The Twins will announce those players and their replacements before Friday's game.
"We're pretty banged up, COVID and physically, with different ailments," starter Chris Archer said. "Even guys that are on the field, we're pretty banged up. … Just understanding that it's a long season and teams go through ebbs and flows, that's just how it is."
Archer, a 33-year-old veteran, demonstrated how to keep an even keel on the mound. He hit his first batter with a pitch and walked the next before Jonathan Schoop hit an RBI single. But Archer locked it down after that, allowing just two more hits until he came out after the fifth.
Archer threw only 57 pitches but said he, Baldelli and pitching coach Wes Johnson had decided before the game that Jhoan Duran and Emilio Pagan would finish out the game with two innings each.
Except that didn't go quite as planned. The Twins had come back for a slim lead thanks to RBI doubles from Gio Urshela and Nick Gordon in the third and fourth innings, respectively. Duran held that line, but Pagan took the mound for the bottom of the eighth and surrendered the homer to Cameron.
"Yeah, a really bad one," Pagan said of that mistake. "Arm side. He put a good swing on it. Just [trying to throw it] down. Get back in the count. Left it up on the inner half, and he hammered it."
Offensively, the Twins were again a bit hesitant. They totaled five hits, all coming in the fourth through sixth innings, when the team also broke a 22-inning scoreless streak.
"You need baserunners in order to make it happen, and you need someone to get a hit. You can't bank on it happening one time, two times over the course of the game," Baldelli said. "You just need a steady line of guys getting on base, and we didn't have that, really, at any point."
Gordon did that three of his four trips to the plate and was a part of both Twins runs. He also threw a runner out at second from left and made a diving catch. But that was not a consolation.
"I mean, I played a good game, but winning definitely matters," Gordon said. "I would have liked to have won the game there."