MINNEAPOLIS — Twins manager Ron Gardenhire let out a deep sigh moments before addressing the media following Monday’s 6-1 loss to Kansas City.
It was one of those nights for Gardenhire and Minnesota.
"We had chances," the skipper said.
The Twins did indeed have plenty of chances to score in Monday’s series opener but didn’t capitalize on them. Minnesota finished the game a mere 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position and left 11 runners on base. While the pitching and defense also faltered for the Twins — who dropped to 37-44 with the loss — the offense was the biggest concern.
"I don’t know if they’re pressing. I think these guys, they want to win. They’re taking some big swings," Gardenhire said. "They’ve been facing some pretty decent pitching. I don’t know if it’s pressing. I just know we’re not getting enough big hits right now. We’re not putting any runs on the board."
Minnesota’s lone run Monday came in the fifth inning when shortstop Eduardo Nunez — playing in his first game since coming off the disabled list — singled to left field to drive in Chris Parmelee from second. Parmelee hit a one-out double in the fifth to extend his hitting streak to 10 games.
Outside of that, the Twins had more chances to drive in runs but simply failed to convert. Minnesota had runners on first and second and nobody out in both the sixth and seventh innings but came away without a run. The Twins also had two runners on base in the eighth and ninth innings with two outs but lacked the big hit late in the game.
"You have to try not to press" said Parmelee, who finished 2-for-4. "That’s the most important thing is not trying to do too much out of your comfort zone and just do your best to get those runs in, and we’re not doing it."
Minnesota won its final game of its recent six-game road trip to snap a five-game losing streak. The Twins had hoped that they could build off Sunday’s victory over Texas and start the current seven-game homestand on the right foot.
Thanks in part to a dormant offense, that didn’t come to fruition. There were more issues than just the bats on Monday, though.
Right-hander Yohan Pino wasn’t terrible, but wasn’t great either in his third career big league start. He allowed four runs on seven hits in 5 2/3 innings and left with his team trailing 4-1. The Twins also committed a pair of errors, both by second baseman Brian Dozier, and both runs came around to score in the eighth inning.
Still, Minnesota gave itself opportunities to get back into the game by getting runners on base. Yet despite the nine hits, the Twins had just one run to show for it. It was the most hits Minnesota had in a one-run game this season.
It looked as if the Twins might break through in the bottom of the sixth when Kurt Suzuki led off with a single to right and Joe Mauer drew a walk. But Josh Willingham flew out to right field on a ball that appeared to be headed for the stands. It instead stayed in play for an out, and Kendrys Morales and Trevor Plouffe were also retired to end the threat.
"That ball did stay in. It looked like it was one of those balls that should slide out into the stands, but it didn’t," Gardenhire said. "Their guy got there, and you’ve just got to move on from there. You’ve got to work your way from there. We hit a couple balls right on the screws."
Minnesota again had two on and nobody out one inning later, but pinch hitter Oswaldo Arcia popped out to second base for the first out and Dozier flew out to left field. Suzuki then hit a hard liner down the third base line that Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas snared and stepped on the bag for the final out of the inning.
A run at that juncture of the night could have changed the dynamic of the game. Instead, it was another missed opportunity for the Twins offense.
"Their third baseman made two great plays on us tonight," Gardenhire said. "He’s pretty good down there. With runners in scoring position, both of them. You know what, it is what it is. That guy can pick it. This is a very good defensive team out there."
Minnesota is now a season-high seven games under .500 and in last place in the American League Central. If things are going to turn around soon for the Twins, their bats will need to come alive.
"You don’t want to lose ballgames. Nobody’s out here to lose," Parmelee said. "We’ve got to figure out something to get those runs in."