MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Twins have struggled to get runners on base lately. Even when they did against the Chicago Cubs on Saturday, it didn’t end well.
Baserunning mistakes by Byron Buxton, Eddie Rosario and Joe Mauer short-circuited any chances for generating offense late in the game, and the Twins lost 4-1 to the Cubs in 10 innings.
“Little things like that that make a big difference in those close ballgames,” manager Paul Molitor said.
Kurt Suzuki homered in the second inning for Minnesota, and Trevor May allowed one run and seven hits in 6 1/3 innings.
But the Twins mustered only seven hits against Jon Lester and five relievers, and Starlin Castro’s two-run single off Blaine Boyer (2-3) in the 10th inning got the Cubs rolling to the victory.
Lester allowed one run and three hits in 6 1/3 innings, and Anthony Rizzo had two hits and an RBI. Jason Motte (4-1) pitched a scoreless inning for the win and Hector Rondon picked up his 12th save in 15 chances.
Buxton led off the eighth inning with a walk, but the speedy rookie was thrown out at second base on a fly ball to center field from Brian Dozier. Dexter Fowler made a perfect throw, and replays showed the play was very close, but second base umpire Todd Tichenor ruled he was out.
Molitor said he liked Buxton’s aggressiveness. But Rosario followed with a single, only to get picked off first base on a throw from catcher David Ross.
“The tag-up on that ball, the guy threw it from the edge of the track and he beat the play, just couldn’t get his hand to the base,” Molitor said. “Rosario has been doing a lot of good things on the bases. Got caught a little out of balance on his secondary and the guy made him pay.”
Mauer walked to lead off the ninth inning, but he slid over second base while trying to steal and was tagged out by second baseman Addison Russell. Mauer was initially ruled safe, but the Cubs challenged the play and it was overturned on review.
“He has the bag stolen, but we talked about it all camp about keeping the tag on the runner,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “Addison did, thus he’s out. Very simple. … You have to give Addison a lot of credit right there and our video guys a lot of credit right there (for challenging it).”
Suzuki put Minnesota in front in the second inning, driving a 93-mph fastball 410 feet into the seats in left. It was the 10th homer of the year allowed by Lester, which is tied with Travis Wood for the most on the team.
But Lester retired the next 10 in a row and the Twins only got one runner to second base the rest of the way.
Cubs: OF Jorge Soler was still favoring his sprained left ankle during batting practice on Saturday, Maddon said. But Soler did some light running and could start a rehab assignment early next week.
Twins: INF Eduardo Nunez was given the day off after he was hit in the hands by a pitch on Friday night. Molitor said Nunez was available but still sore.
RHP Kyle Gibson (4-5, 3.33 ERA) starts the series finale for the Twins against RHP Jake Arrieta (6-5, 3.40 ERA). In eight home starts this season, Gibson is 3-2 with a 2.84 ERA. Arrieta is coming off of a rough start in which he walked a career-high six while giving up five runs in four innings.
VARGAS AT FIRST
Kennys Vargas started at first base to allow Mauer to get a rest day at designated hitter, and he made a great play in the fifth inning after the first two runners reached. Vargas made a diving catch on a liner from Fowler, and then made a quick throw from his knees to second base to double up Ross.
“There’s nothing like coming up when you get a guy make a great play on a ball and it gets you two outs on one pitch,” May said.