The Twins experienced something completely new Wednesday. Well, except for Trevor May, to whom it felt all too familiar.
The Mets pummeled the mistake-prone Twins with a dozen runs over the final three innings and handed Minnesota a humbling 14-4 loss, its third in a row. That’s the first time the Twins have suffered back-to-back-to-back losses this season, the first time in a decade a major league team had avoided such a brief slump for so long.
For May, though, the sudden skid felt much more personal. In two of them, he tried to sneak an 0-2 curveball past a power hitter and wound up surrendering a go-ahead home run instead.
“It’s a gut punch when you feel so good, you’re getting ahead of guys, you’re making the pitches,” May said of Dominic Smith’s pinch-hit, three-run homer into the right-field planters, a shot that turned the Twins’ 3-2 lead, due largely to a strong performance from Martin Perez, into a 5-3 deficit that quickly spiraled into double digits. “Sometimes they just earn it. Usually they don’t earn it this many times in a row, though.”
On Sunday, May had the same luck with an 0-2 curveball to Carlos Santana, a pitch that wound up deep in the right-field stands in Cleveland, turning a tie game into an Indians victory.
“I can’t lie and say it’s not fresh in my mind,” said May, who waited in front of his locker after the game to accept responsibility. “[It’s] extremely frustrating because as a competitor, I have to have full conviction in that pitch, even if that’s happened twice on two pitches.”
How close was it to a swing-and-miss?
“I mean, an inch lower, maybe,” May said. “He’d just swung through the same pitch. I was just fully, fully ready to strike him out and go on to the next guy.”
Instead, the Twins were left to endure a sudden spree of Mets’ offense, largely because of their own defense. An inning after May’s three-run mistake, Eddie Rosario dropped Adeiny Hechavarria’s two-out fly ball on the warning track, allowing two runs to score and the floodgates to open.
“I was concentrating on catching the ball, but when it was on its way down, I lost it in the sun,” Rosario said. “I just did my best there, and that was a difficult inning for us.”
It got a lot worse. The next three hitters all drove in runs against Matt Magill, capped by a monstrous, 474-foot home run into the third deck by Home Run Derby champion Pete Alonso. It was the longest home run at Target Field this season, the fifth-longest ever, and added six more unearned runs to the Mets’ total. Minnesota has allowed 11 unearned runs in five games since the All-Star break, and wound up with utility infielder Ehire Adrianza on the mound in the ninth inning, the first time all year they had resorted to a position player to pitch.
“We were in a good spot, and then the wheels kind of fell off, in a few different ways,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said, trying to put the ugly finish behind his team. “It didn’t look [like us]. The fact we haven’t seen many games like that, it’s obviously a good sign. But there are always going to be a handful of games like that over the course of the year.”
Combined with Cleveland's 7-2 victory over Detroit, the Twins' lead in the American League Central slipped to four games -- the closest the race has been since May 14. The Twins open a four-game series against Oakland tonight; Cleveland will try to finish a four-game sweep of the Tigers tonight and starts a three-game series against Kansas City on Friday.
The Twins got home runs from Nelson Cruz — his sixth career homer off Jason Vargas is the most he has had against one pitcher, and the most Vargas has allowed to one hitter — and Mitch Garver, but went 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position.
Still, Perez made the meager support work, holding the Mets to just two runs — one of them unearned.