In loss, Twins make gaffes 'that really don't happen in high school'
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MINNEAPOLIS -- In a 6-2 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays on Thursday night the Minnesota Twins found new ways to dig the hole deeper and deeper.
The Twins played about as embarrassingly sloppy as a baseball team can play on Thursday night, and Jason Marquis labored through four murky innings, allowing five earned runs on seven hits and three walks while throwing 86 pitches.
It all added up to the Twins' 23rd loss in 31 games to start the season.
Asked about his overall thoughts on the slew of mistakes made by the Twins, manager Ron Gardenhire said, "Do we have enough time? How long is your show?"
"It's disappointing. Things happened out there that really don't happen in high school. People scoring from second base on a double-play ball, pop flies landing in. What else do we got? Running into tags at second base. Double plays."
The mess was low-lighted by a bizarre sequence in the top of the third.
With Yunel Escobar on first base and nobody out, Marquis threw an inside fastball that appeared to graze the jersey of Jose Bautista. Bautista and Blue Jays manager John Farrell each appealed to home plate umpire Bill Welke to no avail.
On the very next pitch, Marquis threw another fastball inside that hit Bautista square in the kidney area, but Welke signaled that the ball hit Bautista's bat. After a long, animated argument from Bautista and Farrell, umpires gathered and overturned the call.
Edwin Encarnacion followed with a groundball to third, which Trevor Plouffe fielded and threw to second for a force out. But while second baseman Alexi Casilla sat on the ground looking at the umpire for the call Escobar sprinted all the way home from second base to score the Blue Jays' third run.
Shortly after, catcher Ryan Doumit allowed a passed ball to sneak behind him, but it took him several seconds to locate the ball, resulting in fans showering him -- and the team -- with boos.
More boos rained down with two outs in the top of the fourth when Doumit lost track of a pop-up -- in a cloudless but dark-blue, dusk sky -- between home plate and the mound. Doumit immediately threw his hands up, looked to Marquis for a moment, then looked back up. The ball fell to the ground with Doumit, Marquis and third baseman Plouffe all nearby.
"I didn't see it at all," Doumit said. "It was twilight and the time of game where it's tough to see. I didn't see it at all. ...
"That's a routine pop-up. It's a play that's got to be made to help out our pitcher."
Escobar scored easily from second base to put the Blue Jays up 6-1.
"I was trying to tell Doumit it was straight up." Marquis said. "I looked at him, and I looked back up and I couldn't find it. I thought I heard somebody say something so that's why I pulled away. I never called for it."
Gardenhire added, "Talking with Plouffe, he says 'I've got to catch the ball.' Yes. That's correct."
Erik Komatsu also committed a gaffe to end the bottom of the second inning, getting thrown out at third base because he didn't pick up third base coach Steve Liddle. Komatsu beat out an infield single, but pitcher Henderson Alvarez's throw skipped up the right-field line. Komatsu slowed up as he approached second base, not realizing that nobody had picked up the ball yet. By the time he revved back up to full speed he was gunned down by several feet.
In the bottom of the fourth inning Plouffe -- running from first base on a grounder to second baseman Kelly Johnson off the bat of Komatsu -- ran directly into a tag that allowed Johnson to quickly throw to first for a double play. Had Plouffe stopped running, Josh Willingham would have scored the Twins' second run from third base.
Alvarez held the Twins offense to just two runs (one earned) on seven hits and three walks while striking out two in seven innings. Willingham hit a solo home run in the sixth, and the Twins scored on second baseman Johnson's throwing error in the third.
"It's been tough," Joe Mauer said. "We're just trying to stay positive, but it's been tough. We haven't pitched, we haven't hit, we haven't played defense. It's tough to win ballgames like that. So we've got to figure things out. I think the guys are pressing. I think if we keep doing that it's just going to get worse. ...
"You have to try and relax. ... Being, what, 8 and 23 now, there's a lot of negativity around. But you've just got to try to stay positive and try to keep working and work yourself out of it."
Doumit added, "When it rains it pours, and it's pouring right now."
80-31: The margin the Twins have been outscored by in innings 1-3 this season.
3: Scoreless innings of relief thrown by Anthony Swarzak, who struck out three and allowed only two hits.
.270: Mauer's batting average after going 0-for-3 with a walk.
17: Strikeouts in 12 1/3 innings this season for Glen Perkins, who struck out the side in the eighth.
The Twins are still hopeful first baseman Justin Morneau will rejoin the team in time for next week's road trip.
"I don't know where else to go with that one, folks."
-- Gardenhire at the end of his post-game press conference.
Friday: vs. Blue Jays, 7:10 p.m. RHP Nick Blackburn (0-4, 6.84) vs. RHP Kyle Drabek (2-3, 3.34)
Saturday: vs. Blue Jays, 6:10 p.m. RHP P.J. Walters (0-0, 0.00) vs. RHP Drew Hutchinson (1-1, 6.65)
Sunday: vs. Blue Jays, 1:10 p.m. LHP Scott Diamond (1-0, 0.00) vs. LHP Ricky Romero (4-0, 3.56)