Twins can't rally, bullpen falters in finale

Twins can't rally, bullpen falters in finale

Twins can't rally, bullpen falters in finale
SEATTLE -- After winning just seven games in August and six in September last year en route to a 99-loss season, the Twins are hoping a similar spiral won't be taking place this season.

But the Twins have been struggling recently, and it was more of the same on Sunday against the last-place Mariners in a 5-1 loss at Safeco Field. It gave Seattle its first three-game sweep over Minnesota at home since the 2001 season.

The Twins scored just six runs in the series. Sunday's loss dropped them to a season-worst 20 games under .500, at 50-70, and they have lost nine of 10 following an impressive stretch that saw them win nine of 12.

"A bad series here," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We scored six runs in three days. That's not good enough. They pitched well, but we sure missed out on a lot of opportunities."

Minnesota simply couldn't capitalize on their chances with runners in scoring position, going 0-for-10 on Sunday to go just 3-for-28 in those situations in the three-game sweep.

It was frustrating for the Twins, who had been swinging the bats well until their recent skid. They haven't scored more than five runs in any of their last five games, which were all losses.

"Obviously we didn't have a very good series here," Twins catcher Joe Mauer said. "It's definitely not acceptable. You have your ups and downs in a season, but obviously you don't want to keep going in the direction that we have this series. We've played good baseball. We know we can play good baseball. It's just being consistent with it."

Right-hander Samuel Deduno again had trouble with his control, walking six and hitting a batter in six innings, but he was able to limit the damage. He surrendered two runs on five hits to mark his fourth quality start in eight outings. Deduno, though, wasn't pleased with his outing due to all the free passes.

"I don't know what to say about the walks," Deduno said. "Too many. Too many people. Too many bodies. I have to be better. That's too many."

But to his credit, he's managed to remain effective despite all the walks -- he has a 3.33 ERA despite issuing 36 walks in 46 innings this year.

"For him, he's a good pitcher because his stuff is nasty," said Mariners right fielder Eric Thames. "His fastball moves this way, that way, this way, and it's tough to have an approach [against] a guy like that, that's effectively wild."

Deduno gave up the two runs in the third inning, when he walked four batters, including John Jaso with the bases loaded and nobody out. Jesus Montero brought home the other run on a double-play ground ball.

But Deduno's high-wire act wasn't enough, as the Twins failed to do much offensively against the Mariners.

Minnesota scored just once against right-hander Blake Beavan, on a sacrifice fly from Trevor Plouffe in the second to score Josh Willingham, who doubled to open the frame.

The Twins wasted several scoring chances, including in the sixth inning, when they loaded the bases with one out. Matt Carson struck out before Pedro Florimon flied out to end the inning and the potential threat.

The Mariners broke the game open in the seventh, scoring three runs against reliever Jeff Gray. Gray served up a two-run homer to Michael Saunders before giving up an RBI double to Thames.

It effectively ended any chance for a late comeback for the Twins, and it doesn't get any easier for them on the road trip, as they head to Oakland and Texas, and both of those teams are currently very much in the playoff picture.

"We got out-pitched, we got out-hit, so it's something where we need to be better," first baseman Justin Morneau said. "Our intensity needs to be better. Our focus or whatever you want to call it needs to be a little better. The start of a long stretch on the road, and this is the one we needed to come in and set the tone for the road trip. A team with a very similar record to ours, and we just needed to come in here -- we didn't get that done."

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