These days, it feels like nothing is going right for the Twins.
When they hit well — or well enough to win a game, at least — they don’t have the pitching to match. When they pitch well, the bats fall silent. There have been injuries. There have been illnesses. And errors — both physical and mental — have popped up, some with little to no effect and others more damaging.
A mental error Monday forced manager Rocco Baldelli to remove starter José Berríos earlier than intended, turning the game over to the bullpen, which later faltered in the Twins’ 5-3 walk-off loss to Cleveland at Progressive Field. Jordan Luplow’s two-run home run off Alexander Colomé in the 10th sent the Twins to their third straight loss and 12th in 14 games.
Lifting Berríos earlier than desired, to be fair, did not lose the Twins (7-14) the ballgame. Baldelli was forced to take Berríos out in the sixth after he had given up two runs to tie the game. Both admitted they had forgotten that pitching coach Wes Johnson had visited the mound earlier in the inning which, by rule, meant that the starter must be removed.
Berríos said Baldelli came to the mound and asked him if he wanted the next batter, Josh Naylor. He said “yes,” and Baldelli turned to leave.
“That’s on me. I was locked in on something else at the time,” Baldelli said. “I actually called down to the bullpen to get (Hansel) Robles going. Not a great moment. But obviously I’m more concerned about everything that went on in the game and the results and what happened and a little less so on that.”
What came next was the Twins gaining a lead in the eighth on a Luis Arraez RBI single and then quickly watching their second lead of the night dissipate in the bottom of the inning as Tyler Duffey surrendered a game-tying blast to José Ramírez on a curveball that Ramírez just hooked fair in right field.
After Taylor Rogers worked out of trouble in the ninth, pitching over a second and third one-out situation to escape unscathed, Colomé’s April difficulties were front and center once again. The reliever, who has a lengthy history of late-inning effectiveness, at one point leading the American League with 47 saves in a season, was brought in this offseason to fortify the back of the Twins’ bullpen. But he has been unable to do so.
Colomé served up a no-doubter to Luplow, sending him to his third loss on the season to go along with three blown saves. In eight innings pitched so far, he has given up 13 runs — six earned.
“He’s going through a tough time right now, and I think we also can help him with some specific things on the mound to get him back to where he needs to be and maybe also in some different types of situations, which also could help too,” Baldelli said. “But we will have to do everything we can to help a player going through a difficult time.”
The difficult times certainly aren’t exclusive to Colomé. The Twins’ scuffling offense did see some positive signs on Monday, though, even as the team had just five hits.
Brent Rooker hit a home run off Cleveland starter Zach Plesac, the same guy who hit him with a pitch last season, breaking his arm. Rookie Alex Kirilloff snapped an 0 for 15 streak to begin his career, doubling in the fourth inning. And while the even-keeled outfielder might not have shown much emotion, plenty around him were very happy to see his first career hit. Jorge Polanco had a sacrifice fly, and Jake Cave, who has started to heat up a little bit, also had a hit.
In the end, though, it wasn’t enough, leaving the Twins frustrated and disappointed once again, in search of answers and improvement.
“There’s nobody in their right mind that could go through what has gone on the last three weeks and not think about it a little bit and not at times find themselves wondering what we could do differently or what we could do better,” Baldelli said.