Twins fall in 9th against Rangers 2-1
The short-handed Minnesota couldn't muster enough offense against the Texas Rangers on Saturday night.
Playing without injured catcher Joe Mauer and traded first baseman Justin Morneau, the Twins fell 2-1 to the Rangers on Leonys Martin's two-out, bases-loaded single in the bottom of the ninth inning.
"We got ahead of a guy and made a good pitch, and they roll one up the middle and there's the ballgame," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.
Minnesota had started well, with leadoff batter Brian Dozier hitting a home run into the left field seats against Matt Garza.
After that, not much.
The Twins finished with five hits against Garza, Jason Frasor and winning pitcher Joe Nathan (5-2) - another key player from Minnesota's winning years.
Morneau had been traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates earlier Saturday. Minnesota could have used the third-leading home run hitter in team history, leading this year's Twins with 17 homers and 74 RBIs.
"To have him not out there was a little strange early in the game, and then you just go play baseball," Gardenhire said.
The Twins played well. After giving up a first-inning run on Adrian Beltre's sacrifice fly, right-hander Mike Pelfrey did not allow a run over the next six innings.
"We like the way he's throwing the baseball. This was probably his best outing, if not for the year, in a long time," Gardenhire said.
"After the second inning I thought I had all four pitches working. I felt fresh. Unfortunately the guy on the other side was pretty good too," Pelfrey said.
Gardenhire mixed and matched three relief pitchers in the ninth inning before the left-handed-hitting Martin, hitless in his first four at-bats, sent the ball past left-hander Brian Duensing and into center field.
Opponents had batted just .136 (6 for 44) against Duensing in his 11 previous appearances.
Dozier's 15th home run set a season record for a Minnesota second baseman, breaking a tie with Tim Teufel (1984).
The second leadoff homer this season for Dozier also was his 48th extra-base hit, the most for any active Minnesota player now that Morneau is gone.
Dozier wasn't looking for excuses.
"We battled obviously one of the best teams in the league that's playing really good baseball right now," he said.
"We never really got into scoring position to have that chance to really extend innings. We just didn't hit. Bottom line."
Their 11 strikeouts marked the 51st game this season in which Twins batters have struck out at least 10 times.
"Garza's got good stuff. He was commanding all of his pitches to righties and lefties," Dozier said. "He comes at you with the fastball."
"Garza threw the living fire out of the ball," Gardenhire said.
"Normally when you give up two runs you win a ballgame. We were really happy with Pelfrey. We thought he was unbelievable. We just couldn't come up with any hits to knock in any runs."
Pelfrey, who did not walk anyone, threw 98 pitches in matching his longest outing this season.
The Rangers managed only six hits, all singles, against him. Pelfrey retired 13 consecutive batters between the third and sixth innings.
Notes: The Twins recalled catcher Josmil Pinto from Triple-A Rochester to take Morneau's roster spot. Outfielder Alex Presley, acquired from Pittsburgh in the Morneau trade, will join Minnesota on Sunday. Manager Ron Gardenhire said Presley would play center field and bat leadoff.