Twins suffer 12th walk-off loss of year, most since 1987
CLEVELAND — Addison Reed had pitched just twice since coming off the disabled list with an elbow impingement, but the Twins gave him a chance Thursday afternoon to make up for lost time out of their beleaguered bullpen.
It didn’t work.
Michael Brantley’s one-out single past a diving Miguel Sano at first base scored Greg Allen from third and sent the Cleveland Indians to a 5-4 victory and the Twins to their 12th walk-off loss. That matches the team’s total from 1987, when the Twins won the World Series, and stands three shy of the Minnesota club record of 15 from 1964.
Next up is the ’69 Twins, who lost 13 times in walk-off fashion despite winning 97 games and the division title.
“There were some people that have been overused here,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “We’ve got to get a look at everybody that’s out there at some point.”
Reed, pitching before a large contingent of friends and family from nearby Canton, Ohio, struck out Roberto Perez to end the eighth. With Trevor Hildenberger (five outings in the past seven days) and Trevor May (three outings in six days) likely off limits, Molitor mentioned before the game the likelihood of getting his deposed setup man into more high-leverage spots.
Greg Allen pulled a single through the right side to open the ninth, stole second and moved to third on Francisco Lindor’s groundout. Rather than go to a five-man infield at that point, the Twins let Reed go after Brantley, who ripped the fourth pitch he saw for the game-winning hit.
It was the second straight walk-off loss for the Twins, who saw Lindor beat them with a three-run homer in the ninth on Wednesday night. Reed also gave up a pair of walk-off homers in the season’s first 27 games (April 22 and May 3).
The Twins had taken three straight games started by two-time Cy Young Award winter Corey Kluber but fell to 11-11 in such games overall as well as 11 games out of first in the American League Central. They also fell to 9-19 in one-run games.
This time a spirited comeback from a 4-0 deficit was wiped out, overshadowing shortstop Jorge Polanco’s first home run since returning from an 80-game steroid suspension. Polanco’s three-run homer to right tied the score and ended a power outage of 138 at-bats, including 123 in the majors.
Polanco last homered way back on June 26 at the Tampa Yankees, two games into his rehab assignment for the Class A Fort Myers Miracle.
“It gives me a lot of confidence,” Polanco said through a translator. “We all know who Kluber is. He’s one of the best pitchers in the league.”
Twins all-star right-hander Jose Berrios struggled through the first four innings, issuing a career-high six walks (one intentional) while piling up 96 pitches.
Berrios struck out five and induced 13 swinging strikes, but he struggled with his fastball command from the outset. He walked four of the first dozen batters, gave up a 400-foot solo homer to Yonder Alonso and saw Lindor, his fellow Puerto Rican, drive in three more runs with a single and a double.
Just one Berrios start this year has ended sooner: a three-inning stint on April 29 against the Cincinnati Reds. That also happened to be a day game.
In fact, as Berrios alluded to, he is 0-3 with a 7.62 earned-run average in his past five day games, dating to the June 29 heat wave at Chicago’s Wrigley Field. He failed to last five innings in three of those starts, and his nine-inning walk rate was 6.23.
Considering Berrios also has two complete games and a career-high 12 strikeouts under the sun this year, the trend is somewhat perplexing.
“I’m not quite sure what’s going on,” Berrios said through a translator. “It’s just one of those weird things. Day games, it hasn’t been good for me, but I’m still doing my routine normally like I do all the time.”
Lindor, who clubbed Wednesday night’s three-run walk-off homer, had eight hits (two homers), a walk and seven runs batted in during the four-game series.
Twins rookie lefty Gabriel Moya secured eight big outs in middle relief in the longest outing of his brief career. Moya walked one, struck out one and didn’t allow a ball to leave the infield.