Twins Thursday: Minnesota’s skid continues to swell

Even during last year’s dismal 96-loss season, the Minnesota Twins never had a skid quite like this.

Following Thursday’s 7-6 loss at the hands of the Detroit Tigers, the Twins have now lost a season-high nine games in a row. Minnesota’s longest losing streak last season was just six games. The Twins are now approaching their longest skid in 2011 — 11 games during the 99-loss season.

For a while Thursday it appeared as if Minnesota’s skid might finally be snapped. Left fielder Josh Willingham broke out of a slump to hit two home runs, including a solo shot in the top of the seventh to make it a 6-3 Twins lead. But that three-run cushion quickly disappeared thanks to a three-run bottom of the seventh inning for the Tigers against Minnesota’s previously reliable bullpen.

Detroit scored the go-ahead run in the bottom of the eighth inning. For the Twins, it was the type of play that personifies a team on a nine-game losing streak. With Omar Infante on second base and Miguel Cabrera on first, Detroit first baseman Prince Fielder hit a tapper up the middle. The ball deflected off pitcher Jared Burton’s glove and made second baseman Brian Dozier change directions. What looked like a potential inning-ending double play instead trickled into shallow right field and allowed the go-ahead run to score.

It’s been that kind of a slump for Minnesota lately.

“That looked like it was probably a double-play ball,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “Stuff happens. When you’re going good, it goes right to him. And when you’re scuffling and trying to find ways to win, it bounces the other way. Tonight it bounced the other way for us.”

Thursday marked the third one-run loss during the current nine-game skid, which began back on May 14 with a loss to the Chicago White Sox. Minnesota has lost three games by five or more over the last nine. Thursday’s six runs were the most the Twins have scored during the last nine games, but it still wasn’t enough against Detroit’s potent lineup.

If the Twins hope to snap the losing streak (the longest active slump in baseball) while in Detroit, they’ll have to do so against an impressive Tigers rotation — and they avoided facing ace Justin Verlander this series. Anibal Sanchez (4-4, 2.77 ERA) takes the mound Friday, followed by Doug Fister (5-1, 3.62 ERA) on Saturday and Max Scherzer (6-0, 3.61 ERA) in Sunday’s series finale.

Mastroianni has surgery on ankle: Twins outfielder Darin Mastroianni had successful surgery on his left ankle Wednesday to repair a bone chip, and Twins assistant general manager Rob Antony told reporters in Detroit that Mastroianni is expected to miss six weeks.

“What they did was exactly what they wanted to accomplish,” Antony said of the surgery. “They were very comfortable that they went the right way with the decision to repair it instead of remove it.”

Antony said that Mastroianni will be in a cast for a week and have his ankle checked out next week. From there, the Twins outfielder will wear a walking boot for a few weeks.

Mastroianni, 27, played in just eight games this season and had 10 plate appearances before he was sidelined with a stress reaction in his left foot.

Florimon leaves with finger injury: Minnesota shortstop Pedro Florimon left Thursday’s game in Detroit with a sprained right index finger and is day-to-day after injuring the finger in the third inning. Florimon slid head-first into third base while advancing from first on a double by Jamey Carroll. After jamming his finger on the slide, Florimon later came home to score on a base hit by Joe Mauer, but Eduardo Escobar replaced him at shortstop in the bottom of the third inning.

“He went and tried to throw but couldn’t throw tonight,” Gardenhire said of Florimon. “I think he’ll be able to put some pressure on it tomorrow and hopefully in an emergency we can use him.”

FOX Sports North’s Kevin Gorg contributed to this report.

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