MINNEAPOLIS — Plenty of things jump out in the box score of Saturday’s lengthy game between the Twins and Red Sox — a 12-5 Boston win that took nearly four hours. For Minnesota, one of the most glaring problems was how many runners didn’t score.
The Twins left 13 runners on base in Saturday’s loss at Target Field and were only outhit by the Red Sox by one (13 hits to 12). Minnesota was tagged out once at the plate and left the bases loaded several times. The Twins finished 4-for-13 with runners in scoring position, leaving plenty of potential runs on the bases.
“We scored some runs, but we just didn’t come up with enough big hits,” said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire.
After scoring three runs in the bottom of the fifth to cut Boston’s lead to 7-5, Minnesota had a chance to trim the deficit even more. With the bases loaded and one out, Aaron Hicks popped out to second baseman Dustin Pedroia in shallow right field. The ball wasn’t hit very far out of the infield, but Twins catcher Ryan Doumit tagged up from third and was thrown out at home by Pedroia.
Doumit bowled over Red Sox catcher Ryan Lavarnway, but Lavarnway hung on to end the inning as the Twins squandered an opportunity to score. Minnesota wouldn’t score the rest of the game, while Boston responded to the play with four runs in the top of the seventh inning to put the game out of reach.
“I think when (Doumit) tried to go on the fly ball, I think (third base coach) Joe (Vavra) was telling him, ‘Off the bag, it might fall. I think it’s going to fall,'” Gardenhire said. “He just went and tagged up and tried to make a play. He’s an aggressive guy and it didn’t work out too well. Luckily he came out of it unhurt. He was just trying to be aggressive and just trying to make a play, but probably not wise.”
That was the last good scoring chance the Twins had in Saturday’s game as Boston’s bullpen shut them down the rest of the way. But Minnesota certainly had its opportunities to tack on runs and perhaps change the course of the game.
The Twins did force Red Sox starter Ryan Dempster to throw 127 pitches in just 4 2/3 innings. Dempster also walked a season-high six batters. Despite the ability to get on base against Dempster, Minnesota tagged him for just five runs.
“We made him throw pitches, a lot of them,” Gardenhire said. “We ran the bases aggressively to get back in the game. But we couldn’t finish off.”
Minnesota loaded the bases in the second inning but managed just one run. Trevor Plouffe grounded out to third for the first out, and Doumit was tagged out in a rundown between third base and home for the second out. The Twins got their first run of the game on a Pedro Florimon single up the middle, but Joe Mauer struck out to leave the bases loaded.
One inning later, Minnesota again filled the bases with back-to-back two-out walks by Oswaldo Arcia and Plouffe. But Hicks flew out to right field to again leave the bases full without pushing across a run.
The 13 runners left on base were the most by the Twins since leaving 14 on base in Texas on Aug. 23, 2012. Minnesota has actually had decent success with runners in scoring position this year; the Twins were batting .274 and scored 141 runs with runners in scoring position, both of which were good for 11th in all of baseball.
On Saturday, though, Minnesota just couldn’t get anything going with men on base. While the Twins’ pitching didn’t help matters by surrendering 12 runs on 13 hits and eight walks, the offense failed to produce when it had the chance.
“Thirteen runners left on base, we had opportunities,” Gardenhire said. “We couldn’t come up with enough big hits.”