Twins Wednesday: Minnesota establishes dubious team mark

MINNEAPOLIS — The record was going to be broken, whether the Minnesota Twins wanted it to happen or not. And with a Chris Colabello strikeout in the bottom of the fifth inning, a new mark was set.

Colabello’s strikeout was the 1,122nd time a Minnesota batter was fanned this season, the most in a single season in Twins history. The old record of 1,121 strikeouts was set back in 1997. Minnesota entered Wednesday’s game just four strikeouts shy of tying that mark, and Colabello struck out swinging for the fifth and record-setting strikeout.

“We’re striking out way too much,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said after Wednesday’s 8-1 loss, which included 10 total strikeouts by his hitters. “I think we’ve all seen that.”

Wednesday’s 10-strikeout performance was the 49th time this season that Minnesota’s offense fanned 10 or more times. And with 31 games remaining in the 2013 season, the Twins’ club record for strikeouts in a season will only continue to grow before it’s all said and done.

This wasn’t something Gardenhire saw coming at the beginning of the year.

“We have a few guys that we know are going to strike out, but they’re guys that swing for home runs,” Gardenhire said. “I didn’t think that we would have a whole group like this. It’s kind of hard to imagine this many strikeouts — trying too hard, whatever you want to call it — but we have a lot of strikeouts. Way too many.”

According to Baseball Almanac, the most strikeouts by a team in a single season is 1,529, which the 2010 Arizona Diamondbacks accomplished. The American League single-season record is 1,387, set last year by Oakland.

Minnesota has some work to do to get to that mark. Gardenhire hopes his team doesn’t get there.

“We definitely care about it, because it’s not fun. It’s not fun watching guys strike out,” Gardenhire said. “They’re going to go up there. They’re working hard. They’re doing everything they possibly can. It’s not like they’re trying to strike out. It is what it is. We can’t do anything about it other than go out there tomorrow and try to put the ball in play a little bit better and put some better swings on it.”

Albers faces Royals again: Twins left-hander Andrew Albers’ big league career began on Aug. 6 against Kansas City, and he nearly pitched a shutout. Instead, Albers settled for 8 1/3 scoreless innings in a victory in his major league debut.

Wednesday, he faced those same Royals again — the first time in his brief MLB stint that he pitched against a team for the second time. While he didn’t come close to matching his first outing against Kansas City, he was again solid. Albers went seven innings and allowed three runs (two earned), but it wasn’t enough in a losing effort.

“It’s one of those things where you make the adjustments when they need to be made,” Albers said. “Today, I felt like I was going to wait to see how they came out and attacked me and see how aggressive they were and things of that nature. It ended up being a pretty similar game plan.”

Albers allowed a pair of home runs to Alex Gordon and Salvador Perez, but otherwise scattered six hits over his seven innings of work. With two outs in the sixth, Albers threw a pitch high and tight to Perez, which the Royals catcher seemed to take exception to.

After the game, Albers said he wasn’t trying to hit Perez — especially not near the head — but noted that the ball just got away from him. Regardless, home plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt issued warnings to both dugouts.

“I don’t have good enough stuff to just stay away, away, away,” Albers said. “I’ve got to come in.

“Unfortunately, it looked bad because he obviously hit two lasers the first two times up and it was the first pitch. But I’m not trying to go after his head. I’m not trying to hit him in that situation. I am trying to go inside. Sometimes it gets away.”

Perez was a Twin killer on Wednesday, as he went 4-for-5 with four RBI and two home runs in the Royals’ victory. His second homer came off reliever Casey Fien, who came in to replace Albers to start the eighth inning.

Albers has now made five career starts in the majors — all against AL Central teams — and fell to 2-2 while his ERA dropped slightly to 2.92 following Wednesday’s two earned runs allowed.

“He gave us a chance,” Gardenhire said. “Three runs wasn’t bad for seven innings. … Unfortunately, we’re just not scoring.”

Morneau moves up home run list: The lone bright spot offensively for Minnesota on Wednesday was Justin Morneau’s solo home run in the ninth inning. Morneau took Royals reliever Aaron Crow deep to right-center for his 16th home run of the season.

With that blast, Morneau is now tied with Tony Oliva for third on the Twins’ all-time home run list. Wednesday’s homer was the 220th of Morneau’s career.

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