In a one-run game, the little things can often be magnified. One missed opportunity could mean the difference between winning that one-run game or being on the losing end of it.
Such was the case Wednesday when Minnesota fell 3-2 to Kansas City at Kauffman Stadium. Though the Twins led 1-0 into the sixth inning, a sequence of miscues — on the basepaths, no less — cost Minnesota the chance to take the first two games in the series following Tuesday’s victory.
"Not good," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said of his team’s base-running blunders.
The Twins were picked off twice Wednesday at first base, and both instances erased potential runs on the basepaths. Minnesota also had a runner thrown out at home plate when Brian Dozier tried to score from third on a throwing error.
While it’s no guarantee that any of those runs would have scored, those were three outs that didn’t need to happen for the Twins. The first came in the top of the third inning. After Chris Parmelee walked, Eduardo Nunez grounded to second base for a fielder’s choice. Kansas City couldn’t turn the double play — it was initially ruled an out but the Twins challenged the play and it was overturned — to leave Nunez safe at first with one out.
But the Twins infielder got caught napping at first base. Royals catcher Salvador Perez fired a throw back to first base after a pitch from starter Danny Duffy to nab Nunez on the pickoff at first for out No. 2 in the inning. Minnesota’s Danny Santana ended the inning shortly thereafter with one of his four strikeouts in the game.
The Twins were picked off at first just one inning later. Sam Fuld singled to open the fourth inning against Duffy, but the Royals starter nabbed Fuld at first base with a quick throw from the mound.
"The guy’s really quick over there to first base," Gardenhire said. "The 3-0 one with Sammy over there, that’s inexcusable. Three balls and no strikes and you get picked off, I don’t care how quick he is."
Later in that inning, Minnesota committed yet another gaffe on the bases. Dozier drew a walk shortly after Fuld was thrown out, and Josh Willingham followed with a walk of his own. Despite Willingham’s less-than-stellar speed, he and Dozier successfully executed a double steal with just one out in the inning.
However, Perez’s throw to third on the play got away from Kansas City third baseman Mike Moustakas. When Dozier thought the ball got away, he took off toward home plate. Unfortunately for he and the Twins, though, the ball didn’t roll too far from Moustakas, who fired to Perez at the plate to easily get Dozier for the second out.
That play elicited exasperation from the Twins skipper after the game.
"A big play, but then you take off running home and you don’t know where the ball is," Gardenhire said. "He said he didn’t hear anything. I think Scotty (Ullger) was pointing, ‘Right here, right here,’ at the bag. I think we all saw that. He just took off. . . . Obviously you don’t just run because you don’t hear anything. That’s not a good play."
The Twins still led 1-0 at that point, but Kansas City scored three runs off Minnesota right-hander Phil Hughes to take a 3-1 lead in the sixth inning. Danny Santana’s RBI single in the seventh brought the Twins to within 3-2, but that was as close as Minnesota would get the rest of the night.
There were plenty of miscues by the Twins, who went just 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position Wednesday night. But three separate outs on the bases should not have happened, and may have cost Minnesota a win.
"Bad base-running early, we all saw that," Gardenhire said. "And one bad inning, and we left some men out there, too. We had plenty of chances."
FOX Sports North’s Jamie Hersch contributed to this report.