Mistakes on the bases, an untimely error in the field, and most of all, missed opportunities to score — the Twins' 3-2 loss to the Tigers on Saturday displayed all the traits that knocked them out of the AL Central race in September.
Appropriately, it guaranteed that the 2022 Twins will not have a winning record.
Detroit managed only six hits, five of them singles, against Dylan Bundy and Ronny Henriquez, but still managed to hand the Twins their 11th loss in 16 games and drop them to 77-81 with four games remaining.
"Normally I don't focus on things like that. Normally I focus on managing a playoff team, building towards just winning games and getting to our ultimate goal of winning a World Series. That's what we're here for," Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. "Finishing .500 … I wouldn't have minded that. But we have things that are more important now than finishing a couple of games above or below .500. We have work to do and we know that."
Luis Arraez singled twice in five at-bats at Comerica Park, raising his batting average to .3155, giving him a slight lead over Yankees slugger Aaron Judge, whose 0-for-2 day in the Yankees' 8-0 victory over Baltimore lowered his average to .3129.
But Arraez also made one of Saturday's biggest mistakes. In the sixth inning, the score was tied 2-2 with Javier Baez standing on second base and one out when Harold Castro grounded a ball to Arraez's right. The first baseman fielded the ball, but his toss to Henriquez was too high and wide for the pitcher on the run, and the ball rolled toward the Twins' dugout.
Baez score the go-ahead run while the Twins scrambled to recover the ball. Neither team scored again.
The Tigers also capitalized on a first-inning error by right fielder Matt Wallner, with Riley Greene advancing to third base when Wallner allowed his single to get past him. Greene scored the game's first run when Baez followed with a single.
The Twins got a solo home run from Mark Contreras, his third of the season, in the fifth inning, and Gio Urshela drove in Arraez with a single later in the inning. But the chance to turn that into a huge inning died moments later when, with the bases loaded, Urshela was picked off second base by Tigers reliever Jose Cisnero, ending the inning.
"We had every chance to win the ballgame. You have every chance to execute all the plays and get through innings. You want to take advantage of those opportunities, those chances to win the game," Baldelli grumbled. "The game was right there in front of us, and we weren't able to take care of the parts we needed to take care of."
They loaded the bases again in the eighth, too, with just one out. But Ryan Jeffers, pinch-hitting for Wallner, grounded into a double play, the final missed opportunity on a night when the Twins went 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position.
For Bundy, too, it was a fitting ending to a frustrating season: his start was short, largely effective, but marred by a home run. The righthander, whose future in Minnesota will be determined by whether the Twins pick up his $11 million option for 2023, went five innings in his final start of the season, the 21st time in his 29 appearances he lasted five innings or fewer.
"He kept us in the game. There were some moments where he probably wasn't happy with what he was doing, but he just keeps pitching, keeps trying to do whatever he has to do next to get an out," Baldelli said. "I was pleased with his outing. That's what you're hoping for, to get five good innings from him."
Bundy didn't walk a batter, finishing with a career-low (not counting 2020) 28 walks this season, but struck out only three, giving him just 94 in 140 innings. And in the fourth inning, he left an 88-mph fastball too high in the strike zone, a pitch that Tigers catcher Eric Haase pounced on and drove into the bullpens in left-center. It was the 24th homer Bundy has allowed this season, most by any Twins pitcher.
The Star Tribune did not send the writer of this article to the game. This was written using a broadcast, interviews and other material.