Minnesota wastes chance at key series win
JUL 05, 2012 5:23p ET
Something about the Minnesota Twins' three-run lead Thursday just didn't feel safe.
The Twins should have been up by several more runs, and although left-handed starter Scott Diamond put together another quality start, trouble seemed imminent.
Sure enough, the Tigers posted one run each in the fourth and fifth innings and trailed by only a run entering the bottom of the eighth. A five-run frame put Detroit ahead for good as the Tigers won Thursday's matinee, 7-3, to split the four-game series.
Despite the final score, Minnesota actually out-hit Detroit 14-9. But the Twins left nine runners on base Thursday, which loomed large at game's end.
The finally tally of runners left on base doesn't include the three other base runners who were tagged out at home plate. Two Twins were thrown out at the plate on back-to-back pitches in the second inning. With Darin Mastroianni on third and one out, Jamey Carroll grounded to third baseman Miguel Cabrera. Cabrera then fired home to catcher Gerald Laird to get Mastroianni for the second out.
Denard Span, the very next batter, singled to left field on the first pitch he saw from Tigers starter Rick Porcello. Twins shortstop Brian Dozier tried to score from second on the play but was gunned out at home by left fielder Ryan Raburn. The play ended the inning, and the back-to-back pays at the plate kept what turned out to be two big Twins runs off the board in the second.
"We left so many men on base early in the game," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said after Thursday's loss. "… We hit some balls hard right at people that they caught. The game could have been a bit of a different story, but you see that sometimes when a game's like that where you should have multiple runs and you end up with a couple and they come back and bite you with that kind of offense. That's what happened today."
Mastroianni was later thrown out at home in the top of the eighth inning, his second time in Thursday's game. He led off the inning with a single — his third hit of the day — and then swiped second base with Dozier at the plate. After Dozier struck out, Mastroianni stole third for his second steal of the inning, third of the day and seventh of the season. But he made an out at home plate after Carroll couldn't connect with a bunt on a squeeze play.
Without the contact, Mastroianni was hung out to dry and out easily at home plate, the third Twins run thrown out at home.
"We had a bunch of guys thrown out at home," Gardenhire said. "We had chances."
Because of the runs left on the board, the Twins leave Detroit with a series split after winning the first two games of the four-game series. Minnesota fell to Tigers ace Justin Verlander on Wednesday, and there was never a point when it seemed the Twins might win that game. But Thursday was Minnesota's game for the taken.
The Twins didn't take it. The Tigers did. Now Minnesota, desperately trying to make up ground in the American League Central before next week's All-Star break, falls to 35-47 after Thursday's loss. It seems as if whenever the Twins take a step forward — like winning the first two games of the series, for example — they take another step backward. Having three men thrown out at home plate and numerous others left stranded on the base paths isn't the way to move in the right direction.
Robby Incmikoski contributed to this report.
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