When Trevor May gave up a home run to Carlos Santana, which ended up being the deciding run in the Minnesota Twins’ loss to the Cleveland Indians on Sunday, the issue was that the Twins couldn’t complete the sweep of the Tribe, and Cleveland would be 6.5 games back instead of 7.5 following the three-game series in Northeast Ohio.
When another one of his curveballs landed in the seats behind him on Wednesday against the Mets, the stakes were a little different.
Once again May had thrown a curveball in an 0-2 count, and once again he would be tagged with the loss. This time it was Dominic Smith, who pinch-hit for J.D. Davis in the seventh inning with two men on. A 3-2 Twins lead immediately became a 5-3 deficit.
“An inch lower, maybe,” May said when asked where he wanted the curveball. “He’d just swung through the same pitch. It’s a little bit hard to explain how that happens twice in the last three days, especially in that situation.”
Things unraveled from there. Eddie Rosario lost the ball in the sun and dropped a routine fly ball with two outs in the eighth inning. The Mets scored six runs after that — and 12 in the final three innings. Ehire Adrianza became the first position player since Chris Gimenez in September of last year to pitch in game.
Squint and the 58-36 Twins of this year looked like the 78-win team from last season at the end of the game.
“Most of the time, I have a good read on most of the fly balls. I was trying to concentrate in there. When it was coming down, I was right in the middle of the sun,” said Rosario. “Unfortunately, I dropped it there in that situation. It was unfortunate. I have to move on.”
The Twins have a four-game series against the Oakland A’s, then three games against the New York Yankees before hitting the road to face the Chicago White Sox. Cleveland is 4.5 games back and are in the middle of a series with the Detroit Tigers, then play the Kansas City Royals, Toronto Blue Jays and K.C. again. They’ll have a chance to close the gap.
The bigger issue at hand is that Minnesota has a young core, is dealing with some injuries while facing tough competition and is coming off years of either .500 or very poor play.
The 2010 San Diego Padres were 6.5 games up on the San Francisco Giants on Aug. 25, lost three games for the first time all season from Aug. 26-28, then proceeded to lose the next seven. The Giants ended up winning the NL West and the World Series.
Right now the Twins appear to be doing fine. May was hard on himself in the clubhouse, but that is to be expected. He’s mostly figuring out when and how to use his curveball. Rosario was upset about dropping the ball, but appeared to have moved on from it. Rocco Baldelli maintained the same calm, focused demeanor he has had all season.
“A lot happened in the final three innings. None of it looked really good. Occasionally, I think we’re going to see situations like that,” said Baldelli, whose team has had three bad losses to the Houston Astros and one to the Tampa Bay Rays this season.
“We were right in the game and competing very well. Martín threw the ball very well. I think we were in a good spot and then the wheels kind of fell off in a few different ways. There’s a lot that went on. To sum it up really nicely, I don’t think we’re going to be able to do that.”
On Sunday they lost to Cleveland 4-3, and on Monday they had the bases loaded with Nelson Cruz up when he flew out to end the game. On Tuesday they were up 3-2 entering the seventh inning. A good series against Oakland could make this become irrelevant in the long term. A losing streak could make it a turning point in the season.