MINNEAPOLIS -- Eduardo Nunez has been the Twins' hottest hitter throughout the season, and manager Paul Molitor has done his best to keep his bat in the lineup.
Despite shortstop Eduardo Escobar coming off the 15-day disabled list on May 23, Nunez has taken over as the starting shortstop and the club's leadoff hitter. He once again provided a spark on Saturday, going 2-for-4 with two stolen bases, two runs scored and a walk to improve his batting line to .331/.360/.500, but also grounded into a double play with the bases loaded to end the fourth inning. The Twins fell to the Rays, 7-4.
The Rays had just taken a 4-3 lead on a three-run shot from Steven Souza Jr., and Minnesota looked primed to at least tie the game after loading the bases with one out, but Nunez grounded into a 6-4-3 double play.
"Nunez has been playing well for us," Molitor said. "But the double play with the bases loaded with one out, that was a little bit deflating."
It was another example of the Twins struggling with the bases loaded this season, as they're hitting .125 (5-for-40) with just one extra-base hit -- a double -- in those situations.
Molitor said it's been an ongoing problem this year, as the Twins are hitting .219 with runners in scoring position, which is tied for the third-worst mark in the Majors. Last year, Minnesota hit .279 with runners in scoring position, the third-best mark in baseball.
"I don't know if we've had enough to where we've had guys really thinking about that," Molitor said of his club's struggles with the bases loaded. "It's more of an offensive mindset that we know we're not getting big hits. So whether it's bases loaded or first and third with one out, there's a lot of situations where we haven't had good at-bats to get that one run at least at the minimum."
The Twins actually hit well with runners in scoring position on Saturday, going 5-for-14, but those five hits only produced two runs, as the other two runs came on an RBI groundout from Brian Dozier and a sacrifice fly from Joe Mauer.
The Twins ended up leaving eight runners on base, including two in the ninth inning after an RBI single from Mauer with two outs. Dozier struck out swinging against closer Alex Colome to end the game.
"We competed well, but we left too many runners on base," Dozier said. "We just have to get those big hits. We did have a couple hits with runners in scoring position, but it still means we're leaving people out there. To manufacture runs, you need to get those big hits."