MINNEAPOLIS - The Minnesota Twins haven’t figured out a way to win a game this season when tied or trailing after seven innings.
That trend continued Thursday, as the Twins lost to the Rangers 4-3 in 10 innings at Target Field in front of 8,760 fans. They lost three out of four to Texas, needing a win Thursday to end the home stand above .500. The Rangers scored in the top of the 10th after Jonah Heim got to third on a Tyler Duffey wild pitch, then scored on a base hit to right.
The Twins had Nelson Cruz at second to start the bottom of the 10th, but Willians Astudillo and Josh Donaldson struck out, and Miguel Sano flew out to right to end the game.
The Twins fell to 11-19 on the season, are 0-7 in extra inning games and 0-11 on the season when tied or trailing after seven innings. They're 3-for-23 with 10 strikeouts and no walks in extra innings this season. The Twins have now lost four home series this season.
"It’s certainly beyond unexpected. It’s not like there’s one thing to point to here. We get those opportunities too with guys in scoring position, and we’ve got to find a way to get it done. We’ve had an opportunity to win these games, we have to find a way to get that done. We haven’t done that yet," Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said.
If that’s not enough, Byron Buxton pulled up lame running to first after hitting a grounder to third in the ninth and left the game. He did the same thing earlier in the game, and Baldelli said after the loss he didn't know specifically where Buxton got hurt. Team officials say he's now day-to-day with a hip strain. Buxton was named the American League Player of the Month for April earlier this week.
The loss spoils the major league debut for Nick Gordon, who reached base twice and got his first big league base hit on a solid single to right. He also became the first Twins’ player to steal multiple bases in his major league debut, and the first MLB player to do it in his debut since Vince Coleman in 1985. Playing second base, he also made a nice play up the middle in the fourth to end a Texas scoring threat.
"Nick had a great debut out there. He seemed to be playing pretty confidently from the start. He played a great game, he did a hell of a job and he’s going to go to bed tonight wishing we had won that game," Baldelli said.
Gordon was a Twins’ first round draft choice in 2014, and before the start of the 2020 season, tested positive for COVID-19. Speaking with reporters before the game, Gordon was all smiles talking about his debut.
"To feel it all for yourself is definitely different. It’s a kid in a candy store. It’s definitely something that I can’t really explain. I wish everyone had this feeling, it’s definitely a great feeling," Gordon said.
Max Kepler led off the game with his first homer of the season, a 413-foot blast to right center. The Twins took a 3-2 lead in the third on Astudillo’s two-run single to left, scoring Kepler and Buxton. Astudillo had three hits on the day, but struck out as the tying run in the 10th.
Michael Pineda pitched six innings, allowing two earned runs on six hits while throwing 87 pitches, 59 for strikes. Baldelli went to Hansel Robles for the seventh, and Heim got him for a game-tying homer in left center over Buxton’s glove.
The Twins finished with eight hits, but couldn’t get one when they needed it in the late innings. They’ve lost three straight as they head to Detroit for a weekend series.
The Twins might have gotten some positive news as they took the field for the first pitch. Gov. Tim Walz unveiled a three-phase plan to ease COVID-19 restrictions and end the state-wide mask mandate by July 1. It’s possible the next time the Twins play at Target Field on May 14, it could be in front of a capacity crowd as restrictions are being lifted for outdoor events.
"We are currently exploring how to incrementally increase Target Field attendance safely and responsibly, beginning with our games of May 14-30, and ramping up to full capacity as appropriate. We look forward to announcing further details, including ticket plans, in the coming days," Twins officials said in a statement.