MILWAUKEE — The Minnesota Twins flirted with trouble for much of the day on Wednesday, Aug. 14.That is, until the eighth inning.
For the second straight game, a Twins reliever allowed a late three-run home run. Tuesday night, it didn’t doom the Twins. Wednesday, it did, as it plunged them to a 6-5 loss to the Brewers (63-58) at Miller Park when a potential late rally fell short.
After a Jorge Polanco error — his second of the game — and a Brewers single, rookie Trent Grisham drove the fifth pitch of his at-bat against Sergio Romo out of the park to right-center field, and all of a sudden, a lead the Twins (72-48) had been protecting since the top of the first inning when Mitch Garver led off the game with a home run had evaporated.
“I know I can’t make too many mistakes, because the mistakes I make with the situation that I’m privileged to be pitching in, they’re loud,” Romo said. “They’re loud. It hurts. I ain’t gonna lie, it hurts. I made quality pitches and just one today wasn’t.”
But perhaps it would have been just a two-run, tying home run instead of a go-ahead home run if not for the Polanco throwing error that led off the inning. Or perhaps the rest of the inning would have unfolded entirely different without it.
“We’ve definitely given away too many outs, especially in the second half. It feels like it,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “I don’t know if that’s what it actually says if you looked at it. But I think a lot of spots have been in crucial type (moments), towards the end of the game. We just have to make the plays. We have guys that can make those plays.”
The Twins led Wednesday’s game from the first inning when Garver and Eddie Rosario homered. It was the 100th career homer for Rosario. A Miguel Sano home run followed in the third inning, and an inning later, Polanco delivered a two-run single, opening up a 5-2 lead for the Twins.
But the Brewers kept chipping away, putting at least one runner on base in every inning. Kyle Gibson was able to limit them to three runs in his five innings, despite giving up eight hits and three walks. He gave up a run in each of the first, third and fifth innings but played a large role in the Brewers stranding 10 men on base.
“I was just talking to Garver. Not much went our way today. A lot of ground balls found holes, and I was talking with Skip too, I felt like the walks were an inch or two off the plate each way,” Gibson said. “I had a couple of balls where if I get it maybe an inch or two in another direction, it’s an out instead of a hit, so it just kind of seemed like that’s the way it goes.”
Still, he pitched well enough to give the Twins a lead when he left. A lead which the Twins held until the game-changing home run in the eighth.
Wednesday’s loss came after a somewhat similar game the night before in which Martin Perez worked around baserunners all night but gave up just one unearned run. In that game, though, after the Brewers hit a three-run blast, the Twins responded with one of their own. Wednesday, though they they came away scoreless in the ninth despite loading the bases on three walks.
“Once there are a couple of guys on base, anything can happen. It’s one pitch. A guy puts one good swing on the ball and all of a sudden there’s a three-run homer,” Baldelli said. “I think we have to stop that inning from getting to that point. It was kind of self-inflicted, and we have to make those plays.”