As if Minnesota’s offense hasn’t struggled enough over the past few weeks, the Twins were nearly no-hit by Rangers starter Matt Harrison.
Trevor Plouffe’s single with two outs in the seventh inning finally broke up Harrison’s no-hit bid, but the Twins could muster only one more hit against Harrison and three total hits the entire night as Texas topped Minnesota 8-0.
After Plouffe singled to left to break up Harrison’s no-hitter, the Rangers crowd gave Harrison a standing ovation as Twins infielder Jamey Carroll stepped into the batter’s box. Carroll responded by singling to right field. But Harrison got Alexi Casilla to ground out for the third out of the inning and breezed through a perfect eighth inning to complete his night.
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It appeared Harrison’s no-hitter might end earlier in the seventh inning as Minnesota’s Ryan Doumit sent a shot to shallow left field. But Rangers left fielder David Murphy dove and made a highlight-reel catch to preserve Harrison’s no-hitter.
That, Harrison said, was when he thought he might have something special going.
“I was able to make a lot of pitches, but I’ve got to give credit to my defense,” Harrison said. “That play that Murphy made in the seventh inning, that diving play was awesome.”
Whatever Harrison did on the mound, Minnesota’s hitters simply did not have an answer at the plate. Harrison struck out five Twins and walked two. The only other base runner was Ben Revere, who reached on a throwing error by Harrison with two outs in the third inning.
“It didn’t really look like he had to throw too many breaking balls. A few changeups, it looked like,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said of Harrison. “He was pounding his fastball and going right at us, working ahead in the count and putting us on the defensive side pretty much all night.”
Friday’s game continued a recent trend by what was once a respectable Twins offense. Since scoring nine runs in a 9-3 win over Detroit on Aug. 13, the Twins have averaged just 2.6 runs per game over their last 10 games.
Not surprisingly, Minnesota is just 1-9 during that stretch and is now 2-13 in the last 15 games.
Friday also marked the second time in the past three games that the Twins registered just three hits on offense. Minnesota had a similar performance in Wednesday’s 5-1 loss to Oakland, in which the Twins scratched across just three hits.
For most of the season, Minnesota’s starting pitching had been its Achilles heel. Lately, however, the offense has not been pulling its weight either. By being shut out Friday, the Twins snapped a streak of 54 games in which they scored one or more runs — the longest such streak in baseball.