Twins take solace in their winning road trip

Twins take solace in their winning road trip

ST. PETERSBURG -- After starting a 10-game road trip with a three-game sweep at the hands of the Yankees, the Twins were in danger of slipping out of the playoff race with seven games on tap against the contending Orioles and Rays.

But the Twins righted the ship, winning six straight games until a 5-4 loss to Tampa Bay on Thursday night at Tropicana Field. So while it ended with a defeat, the Twins still came away mostly satisfied with their 6-4 road trip through the American League East.

The Twins remain firmly in the mix for the second AL Wild Card spot, as they trail the Rangers by a half-game and are tied with the Angels at 65-62.

"You try to get greedy and get wins when you're rolling, and keep the momentum going, but hopefully we'll look at the bigger picture coming off this trip," manager Paul Molitor said. "How we recovered and put together a nice little run. So to go on the road and win a series, you're happy, but you're not in the moment because you're disappointed you couldn't find a way to finish them off."

The major issue on the trip was Minnesota's starting pitchers not getting deep into games, and it was again the case in a loss to the Rays with left-hander Tommy Milone going 5 1/3 innings. Twins starters did not reach six innings in all but two of their 10 games on the road, averaging just 5 1/3 innings per start. The last starter to go more than 5 2/3 innings was Tyler Duffey on Aug. 20, when he went 7 2/3 frames, so it's led to an overworked bullpen.

"It's extremely frustrating," Milone said. "As starters, you want to get at least six innings, but we haven't been able to do that."

But Milone echoed his manager's sentiments and said the Twins still have confidence after winning six of seven to finish their road trip heading into a six-game homestand against the first-place Astros and White Sox.

"I think if you look at the road trip as a whole, we have to be pretty happy about it, especially after the way it started," Milone said. "We get to go home and start a new win streak."

Catcher Kurt Suzuki also held his head up despite allowing the go-ahead run to the Rays on a passed ball in the sixth, as he said the only thing he can do is move on and keep a positive perspective about the road trip.

"It was a great success, but obviously it would've been nice to get today's win," Suzuki said. "Obviously, it didn't happen. So we just go home and have a tough series against Houston, and hopefully, we start it off right tomorrow."

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.