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Twins tidbits: Ugly loss to Mariners leaves only one real cause for concern

MINNEAPOLIS — The Twins were shut down by lefthander Tommy Milone, who had a 4.79 ERA in three seasons in Minnesota. Manager Rocco Baldelli’s team committed five errors, including two on one play by Miguel Sano in the top of the 10th inning. Blake Parker couldn’t get an out coming of the bullpen during an appearance in which he gave up three runs (two earned) and two hits.

All of this caused plenty of angst among Twins fans on social media Wednesday night during a 9-6 loss to Seattle at Target Field in which the Twins rallied from a 6-1 deficit by scoring three runs in the eighth and two in the ninth. The tying runs came when Byron Buxton blasted a two-run home run to left-center of Mariners reliever Anthony Bass.

So what meant something and what meant little? The Twins, who will wrap up their three-game series against the Mariners on Thursday afternoon at Target Field, are 44-22 and 10.5 games up on second place Cleveland in the American League Central.

In other words, it’s far from panic time. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t some concerns. Using the United States Armed Forces DEFCON system — where DEFCON 5 is least severe and DEFCON 1 is most severe — let’s take a look at what happened in downtown Minneapolis.

THE MILONE AFFECT

The Twins’ offense entered Wednesday either first or tied for first in 10 categories in Major League Baseball and were tied with Seattle with 127 home runs. Mariners manager Scott Servais had enough concern about Milone that he used an opener — righthander Gerson Bautista — to get the first four outs of the game.

Milone entered in less than ideal conditions, coming in with one out and runners on first and second in the second inning, but he got Miguel Sano to strike out swinging and Buxton to hit into a fielder’s choice. The veteran pitcher continued to use his changeup to fool the Twins and ended up giving up three runs and four hits with six strikeouts in six innings.

Milone retired the first nine hitters he faced and did not surrender a run until Marwin Gonzalez sat on that changeup and hit a home run to left to tie the score at 1-1 in the seventh. The Twins’ offense went back to being the Twins’ offense in the eighth and ninth innings, Max Kepler also homered for Minnesota, against the Mariners bullpen.

DEFCON STATUS: 5

FIELDING

No way to sugarcoat this one. It was ugly.

The Twins’ error parade started in the eighth when C.J. Cron’s fielding miscue enabled a run to score to give Seattle a 3-1 lead. The 10th inning was worse. Cron, who has been excellent at first base this season, made a nice play to short hop a ball hit by Mallex Smith with Dee Gordon on third, but Mitch Garver failed to catch the throw home in part because he was concerned about getting the tag down on the quick Dee Gordon.

Two batters later, Edwin Encarnacion hit a ball to Sano but the third baseman bobbled it and then threw it away for two errors that enabled two runs to score. Sano has played a very respectable third base since returning to the Twins after sitting out the beginning of the season because of an injury but this a case of poor fielding followed by a poor decision.

A few more games like this and it might be time to be concerned. But right now?

DEFCON STATUS: 5

BULLPEN

With lefty Taylor Rogers unavailable for a second consecutive night because of back stiffness, the Twins used Mike Morin, Trevor May, Parker, Ryan Eades and Tyler Duffey out of the bullpen. This came after Jose Berrios, who didn’t have his best stuff but still had a strong start (one run, seven hits, two walks, six strikeouts), departed after 6.2 innings.

May, who got his first save of the season on Tuesday night, entered in the eighth and departed after only getting one out. He gave up two runs, a hit and walked a batter. Parker came in and gave up a single before Cron’s error. He  left without recording an out. Eades then surrendered two hits in 1.2 innings with two strikeouts.

Duffey gave up a double to Gordon to start the 10th and walked Shed Long before Dylan Moore’s sacrifice bunt put runners on second and third. Garver and Sano’s errors meant all three runs against Duffey were unearned but he still gave up a key hit and two walks to go with two strikeouts.

It’s no secret this bullpen needs some help and the sooner it gets it the better. Without Rogers, the team’s best relief pitcher, the urgency becomes greater. Baldelli voiced his support for Parker after Wednesday’s game but Parker has a 15.19 ERA in his past six appearances and that doesn’t come close to cutting it.

This Twins’ offense is too good to have to worry about the bullpen. An effective arm or two is needed.

DEFCON STATUS: 2





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Previous Story Making their pitch: Could Twins have their sights set on Trevor Bauer? Next Story Twins make a change in the bullpen, recall Fernando Romero