After taking a hard swing at a Patrick Corbin offering in the second inning in the Minnesota Twins 12-6 loss to the Washington Nationals, Ehire Adrianza paced around outside of the batter’s box, tacitly indicating he was hurt and not happy about it.
He seemingly avoided eye contact with, or even acknowledging the presence of, Rocco Baldelli and the team trainer who went to out tend to him. Neither Baldelli nor Adrianza knew the extent of his injury at the time. Unable to swing, he laid down a bunt and moved two runners over with no outs in the inning, hoping that he wasn’t the latest Twin to get injured.
An inning later he was diagnosed with an oblique strain and was replaced by Ronald Torreyes. He will not make the trip to Cleveland.
“It has been a little injury bug here recently,” said Kyle Gibson, who gave up eight hits and five earned runs in his first start since going on the injured list with ulcerative colitis. “But we’ve got a couple of weeks left to get healthy. We’re going to need AD (Adrianza) and once Marwin [Gonzalez] gets back we’ll be needing him and Kep (Max Kepler) as well. We’re staying afloat. Hopefully in the next weeks we can get healthy and be at full strength going into October.”
But to get to October, or at least get a series when the month changes, they have to fend off the Cleveland Indians. The Tribe swept the Los Angeles Angels after taking two of three in Minnesota, and now the Twins head to Northeast Ohio 3.5 games up in the AL Central.
“(We’ve shown) who we are here. We find we are by the wall and we push back,” said Nelson Cruz, the Twins veteran leader. “We all believe in each other and this is what we are here for. Anyone you ask, we want to be in this situation. We want to be in this important game. We are going to get a few guys back tomorrow, so that’s a good thing for us.”
Baldelli made no such promises. All year long he’s been careful to set timelines for players, and he doesn’t want to injure a player who could make an impact in October by forcing him to play in a critical series against the Indians.
“It’s possible. I think there are guys on the verge of coming back,” said Baldelli. “We’re not going to push guys out on the field until they’re ready to play. It doesn’t matter who we’re playing or what’s going on in the season; if guys are healthy and ready to go, they’ll be out there. That’s kind of how we leave it, and I think that’s the right thing to do for us as a group to try to win the game and also for the player.”
The Twins depth got exposed a bit in the loss to Washington, both on the pitching and hitting side. Kohl Stewart allowed four earned runs, a double-steal and didn’t cover first on a double-play. Trevor Hildenberger had a 1-2-3 eighth inning, but hit No. 8 hitter Victor Robles and gave up a home run to Yan Gomes in the 9-hole. And at one point in the game there were four players in the lineup with a .000 batting average, and one who was sub-.100.
That isn’t to say that Hildenberger couldn’t be used down the stretch, or LaMonte Wade Jr. or Ian Miller couldn’t be used in the right situation. But the injuries are piling up, and doing so at the wrong time for the Twins.
“This isn’t the first time that we’ve dealt with a situation kind of like this,” said Baldelli. “In the middle of the year, we were dealing with something just like this. It’s kind of crazy because I don’t think I’ve seen a situation like this in a long time.
“We’ve had multiple periods of time this year where we’ve been seemingly short on players. You usually don’t see it in September because of the expanded rosters and the ability to carry as many players as you can, but that’s what we’re dealing with. I don’t think anybody is making any excuses at any point. We’re just going to continue to play, and we’ll be ready to go tomorrow.”
The Twins got through it in the middle of the year. Now, with three critical games against Cleveland, they are being put to the test again.