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Updated: April 30th, 2011 11:20pm
Twins Daily: Bullpen collapse extends losing streak to five games

Twins Daily: Bullpen collapse extends losing streak to five games

by Nate Sandell
1500ESPN.com
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There is no end in sight to the Minnesota Twins' losing streak. For the second straight game, the Twins (9-17) fell apart down the stretch. The Kansas City Royals (14-13) scored eight runs in the eighth inning, sending the Twins to their fifth consecutive loss with a 11-2 defeat.

The skinny

The Twins once again could not capitalize on an impressive outing from their starter. Brian Duensing showed why he can be considered the ace of the staff this season, giving up just two earned runs off eight hits in seven innings.

But, as has been the case, he received almost zero support from his offense. Royals starter Sean O'Sullivan did not have his best stuff Saturday, walking seven batters. That didn't stop the Twins from managing just two hits against him, going 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position. Their only two runs came in the first. From there, the Royals' pitching staff was locked in, shutting the Twins down for the remainder of the game.

Trailing 3-2, Duensing left the game after the seventh inning, yielding to Joe Nathan and the Twins' bullpen. That is when the nightmare began. Twins relievers could do little to stop the Royals as they came alive to blow the game open, racking up eight runs off five hits.

It has been a week, let alone a month, to forget. In the last five games, the Twins have been outscored 44-11. After trailing Cleveland by only four games on Monday, the Twins are now nine games back.

Turning point

It would be easy to point to the trouncing in the eighth, but the collapse began an inning earlier.

With the game knotted up at 2-2 in the seventh inning, the Royals' Chris Getz lined a pitch to left field. Instead of playing back to cut the play off, rookie left fielder Rene Tosoni dove for the ball but it was mistimed. The ball rolled all the way to the fence, allowing Getz to reach third with ease. Getz scored easily when the next batter, Mike Aviles, flew out deep to left field.

Tosoni's misplay was only further example of the mental mistakes in the field that have plagued the Twins all season. It was also a sign of things to come on Saturday. The Twins had a chance to escape the eighth with minimal damage. But, with  two outs and the bases loaded, Justin Morneau dropped a routine put-out at first base with the bases loaded, bringing in two runners. The Royals went on to score four more runs in the inning.

Numbers game

6: Errors committed by the Twins in their last six games.

16: Total number of errors committed by the Twins this season.

5: Games this season the Twins have given up 10 or more runs.

2.57: Combined ERA posted by Brian Duensing in his last three starts.

Health watch

DH Jim Thome (strained oblique) returned to the line-up Saturday after missing the last four games.

C Joe Mauer (bilateral leg weakness) did not travel with the team to Kansas City. His rehab is still ongoing and a return date is yet to be set.

On deck

Two weeks ago against Tampa Bay, Carl Pavano (2-2, 5.12) seemed to be channeling his 2010-form with a four hit, eight-inning shutout. In his two starts since, however, Pavano has posted an 8.03 ERA, giving up 10 earned runs in 11.2 innings. He will face Royals starter Luke Hochevar (2-3, 5.68) in the final game of the three-game series. Like Pavano, Hochevar has struggled recently. He surrendered six earned runs in each of his last two starts.

Coming up

·Monday: Off day.
·Tuesday: at Chicago White Sox, 7:10 p.m. LHP Francisco Liriano (1-4, 9.13) vs. RHP Edwin Jackson (2-3, 5.86)
·Wednesday: at Chicago White Sox, RHP Nick Blackburn (1-4, 5.14) vs. John Danks (0-4, 3.92)

Nate Sandell is a contributor to 1500ESPN.com.
Email Nate | @nsandell
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