The Minnesota Twins have a lot of work to do if they want to repeat last season’s late push to the playoffs. A four-game winning streak would be a nice start.
The Twins hope to get another strong performance from their starting pitcher on Saturday night as they continue a three-game series against the Texas Rangers.
Nick Punto scored on a wild pitch with no out in the bottom of the 10th inning as Minnesota opened a six-game homestand Friday with a 2-1 victory.
Texas’ Marlon Byrd misplayed Punto’s shallow fly ball, putting him at third. With Joe Mauer at the plate, reliever Jamey Wright bounced a pitch that got past rookie catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, and Punto dashed home with the winning run.
“It was a ball I was going after I thought I could dive for and get the catch and get the out,” Byrd explained. “I went hard after it and when I realized it was going to drop I tried to put my body in front of it and it kicked off and got by me.”
The Twins remained six games behind AL Central-leading Cleveland, and 6 1/2 games in back of wild card-leading Seattle after the Indians and Mariners also won on Friday. Minnesota won 16 of its final 23 games last year, overcoming a 7 1/2-game deficit on Aug. 16 to win the division on the final day of the regular season.
The Twins’ Carlos Silva remained winless in three straight starts despite giving up only one run and five hits in seven innings.
Minnesota starters have compiled a 2.61 ERA in its last four games. The last Twins’ starter to struggle was Boof Bonser (5-9, 4.77), who is 0-7 with a 5.37 ERA in his last 11 starts since beating Washington on June 10. He is the first Twins pitcher to go winless in 11 consecutive starts since LaTroy Hawkins in 1998.
Bonser gave up five runs and nine hits in 5 2-3 innings Sunday in a 6-2 road loss to the Los Angeles Angels.
“I’m not a ‘me’ guy. I’m just worried about us going out and winning ballgames,” Bonser said. “It’s just frustrating that we’re not winning.”
Despite his struggles, Bonser has pitched well in three straight home starts, yielding three runs or fewer in each outing. He is 3-3 with a 4.29 ERA in 13 starts this season at the Metrodome.
Bonser also is 1-1 with a 6.00 ERA in two career starts against the Rangers.
Texas (53-68) has lost five straight and nine of its last 11 road games. Tampa Bay at 20-41 is the only major league team with a worse road record than the 21-39 Rangers.
Kameron Loe (5-9, 5.80) makes his first start in three weeks for Texas after spending time on the disabled list with lower back tightness. The right-hander, who was placed on the DL on Aug. 4, struggled in a rehab start for Double-A Frisco on Monday, allowing three runs on one hit with five walks in three innings.
“Honestly, that umpire was the worst I’ve ever seen,” Loe said. “The line doesn’t look great but I’m ready to go—my back felt really good.”
Since going 4-0 in a five-start span from June 14-July 6, Loe is 0-3 with a 7.84 ERA in his four most recent outings. He pitched very well in his first two career starts against the Twins, but allowed five runs and eight hits over six innings in a 7-1 home loss to them on May 22.
Minnesota’s Justin Morneau is 5-for-8 with two home runs against Loe.