KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- If ever there was a good time for a break for the Twins, Monday would seem to be it.
Sunday was the last day of a stretch of 13 games in 13 days in which the Twins saw three players land on the IL and two more sit after getting banged up.
Monday, June 24, they rest.
The Twins finished the difficult two weeks with a 6-1 loss at Kauffman Stadium, settling for the series split on Sunday afternoon in Kansas City.
“Physically, mentally, I think our guys have earned it and I think it’s time,” manager Rocco Baldelli said.
With Byron Buxton (wrist), Ehire Adrianza (abdominal issues), Marwin Gonzalez (hamstring), Mitch Garver (ankle/heel) and Jonathan Schoop (foot) out, the Twins offense has lost some serious firepower, though the injuries have given others opportunities to step up. Like Jake Cave, who homered on Saturday, or like rookie Luis Arraez, who collected the first four-hit game of his MLB career on Sunday.
“When it’s big pieces like that, definitely we feel it right now,” Nelson Cruz said. “But the guys that got called up, they’re doing a good job, too. Hopefully we get Buxton back the next series and get a more balanced lineup.”
But still, the Twins (50-27) only scored a run on Sunday despite having some opportunities and leaving 11 on base in the loss. That run came in the fourth inning when Eddie Rosario connected on his 20th home run of the year — and first since June 9 — off Royals (27-51) starter Homer Bailey.
Bailey, in his 5 1/3-inning start, only threw one 1-2-3 inning, but evaded series trouble in the other frames. He gave up five hits and struck out five in his outing.
“I think we had to work for everything. I think he made a lot of good pitches when he had to,” Baldelli said. “I think we had some opportunities and left some guys on base and again, that’s going to happen.”
The Twins never led in the game as starter Michael Pineda suffered a rocky third inning. Pineda, aside from the third, threw four scoreless innings and gave up just three hits.
But in the third, the Royals ambushed him for five runs, scoring two runs on a Nicky Lopez bunt and an Alex Gordon double. The dagger came when Hunter Dozier connected with a Pineda slider and sent it 409 feet out to left field for a three-run home run which put the Twins hole they couldn’t dig out from.
“I got a couple of soft contact base hits and I (hung) one pitch, my slider, so I gave up the big homer,” Pineda said. “That cost my game, the slider up.”
And so the Twins wrap up their the difficult stretch 7-6 in their last 13 games. Baldelli said there weren’t many games where the team was “clicking on all cylinders,” but said he was proud of the way his team handled the last couple of weeks.
“You have to find ways to do it until you get everything kind of moving in the right direction again, you get healthy and you start playing really well and that’s really what I think we were able to do,” Baldelli said.