MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins have continued to show their resilience throughout the season.
That will once again be put to the test following a 5-4 loss to the Royals on Sunday at Target Field. Minnesota dropped the series, including a pair of one-run games, despite outscoring the opposition by 15 runs over the weekend.
Crucial plays went the other way for the Twins during a playoff-like atmosphere over the weekend. They still own the the second American League Wild Card spot, but they're up just 1 1/2 games over the Angels and Orioles.
"This is a perfect practice of hopefully what we have coming our way," catcher Chris Gimenez said. "That was essentially a playoff game for a lot of these guys that haven't experienced it yet. Unfortunately, we didn't come out on the right side of two of the three. That's a good learning experience."
The latest defeat boiled down to a controversial sequence in the top of the seventh.
With Minnesota leading, 4-3, reliever Alan Busenitz was tasked with getting the final out of the frame when he relieved starter Ervin Santana. Royals center fielder Lorenzo Cain fouled off the first four offerings from Busenitz to begin the at-bat.
After missing with the fastball, Busenitz went back to the breaking ball, which landed in the dirt. Cain appeared to attempt a swing on the pitch, but home-plate umpire Marty Foster deferred to first-base umpire Mike Muchlinski, who ruled that Cain had checked his swing to even the count.
"I was hoping he went. I don't know," Busenitz said. "I executed the pitch I wanted and wanted him to swing over the top of it. It was close, but I guess he didn't go, so what can you do?"
Twins manager Paul Molitor expressed his frustration to Foster in the ensuing moments after the call and was subsequently ejected, marking his second ejection of the season and the sixth of his managerial career.
"Obviously, I thought he went too far," Molitor said. "It's pretty simple. Marty didn't get a good look at it, so he turned it over and we didn't get the call. With the game on the line, I thought he went plenty far to get the call."
The play proved to be pivotal, as moments later Cain laced a go-ahead triple to center. Minnesota mounted comeback attempts in the eighth and ninth, but fell short. It was the Twins' first series loss since Aug. 15-17 against Cleveland.
Now the Twins, who posted a 20-10 record in August after becoming sellers at the non-waiver Trade Deadline, will once again have to show their resiliency during the upcoming seven-game road trip against a pair of AL Wild Card-contending teams in Tampa Bay and Kansas City.
"We really have to flush it, honestly," Gimenez said. "We look forward to tomorrow. You can't dwell too much on a game like that, because it will drive you nuts."
Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. 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.