MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Twins hoped that the additions of Oswaldo Arcia and Josh Willingham back into the lineup would help boost a struggling offense.
Even with those two sluggers back and healthy, Minnesota’s lineup faltered once again.
The Twins scored just two runs in Monday’s 7-2 loss to the visiting Texas Rangers. Dating back to last Wednesday’s 2-0 win against San Diego, Minnesota has now scored two or fewer runs in its last five games and has now lost four games in a row.
"Another day where offensively, we just didn’t get it done," said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire. "We’re happy to get a couple guys back, but right now we’ve got to figure out how to put some more runs off the board and take the pressure off the pitcher."
Minnesota managed nine hits in Monday’s loss, the most the offense has had in the last eight games. Yet only two of those nine hits went for extra bases, including a solo homer by Trevor Plouffe for the first run of the game in the first inning. The other was a double by Arcia, who was then thrown out at third base as he tried to stretch his first hit in over a month into a triple.
The Twins finished just 1-for-6 on Monday with runners in scoring position, so they had their chances to put more runs on the board against Rangers starter Nick Tepesch. Kurt Suzuki was left stranded on second base with two outs in the third inning. Eduardo Escobar doubled with one out in the fifth, but Brian Dozier flied out to center and Joe Mauer grounded out to leave another man on base.
In all, Minnesota left six runners on base in Monday’s game as the offense sputtered once again.
"I think we’re just not getting hits right now," Gardenhire said. "We’ve actually put some nice swings on some balls on the road, and at people. Baseball does that. You go in cycles. You get some bloops and get some to fall in, and every once in a while you start hitting them hard at people and then you just go through a little bit of a funk. Hopefully we’ll be able to get out of this thing."
The Twins’ second and final run of the game came in the bottom of the second inning. Willingham, in his first plate appearance since he was hit in the hand by a pitch on April 6, was once again hit by a pitch that caught him in the ribs. He later advanced to third on Suzuki’s base hit to right and scored on a single to left by Eduardo Escobar.
Batting fifth in the Twins’ lineup, Willingham failed to record a hit in his first game in over a month. Though it was just one game, the returns of Willingham and Arcia didn’t quite provide Minnesota’s offense with the lift the Twins had hoped for.
"It felt good to get back out there with the guys," Willingham said. "I wish we could have won the game, but it felt good."
The Twins’ offense was anemic during a three-game series in San Francisco over the weekend. Minnesota scored a total of four runs in those three games the Giants swept the series. Those three straight losses dropped Minnesota to under .500, and Monday’s loss leaves the Twins at 23-25.
Things likely won’t get much easier for Minnesota’s lineup on Tuesday when Rangers ace Yu Darvish takes the mound. If the Twins’ offense is going to get back on track, it will have to do so against a pitcher who has allowed two runs or fewer in six of his nine starts so far this season.
That won’t be an easy task for Arcia and Willingham, who have each faced major-league pitching just once since early April.
"It takes a little time. A little different pitching up here than down there," Gardenhire said. "We’ll have to give them some at-bats and go from there. They can be big plusses. That’s how we started (the season). We wanted these guys to be out there, and now we’ll get them going and hopefully they’ll stay healthy and we’ll have those guys out there."