A late-season swoon apparently has cost the Minnesota Twins a playoff spot. It also may end their run of six straight winning seasons.
The slumping Twins hope to avoid their first eight-game home skid in more than a decade when they open a three-game series Monday night against the Texas Rangers.
Starter Scott Baker made a costly error in the second inning and the Twins were unable to erase an early four-run deficit Sunday in a 6-4 loss to Detroit. Brian Buscher drove in a pair of runs for Minnesota (72-77), which has dropped four straight and 14 of its last 19 games.
“We had lots of chances and just couldn’t come up with the final big hit to get it back in there,” Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said.
The Twins, AL Central champions four of the last five years, need to go 9-4 to avoid their first losing season since 2000, when they finished 69-93.
Sunday’s loss was Minnesota’s seventh straight at the Metrodome. They have been outscored 40-17 while batting .221 (51-for-231) during that span.
The Twins haven’t dropped eight in a row at home since a nine-game slide from April 25-May 11, 1997.
Although Justin Morneau will come close to the numbers he put up during his 2006 MVP season, his second-half slump helped prevent Minnesota from making a late run to the playoffs. Morneau is batting .249 with six homers and 32 RBIs since the All-Star break after hitting .295 with 24 home runs and 74 RBIs in the first half.
Texas (70-79), likely headed for its third straight losing season, snapped a five-game losing streak Sunday with a wild 11-9 victory at Oakland.
Michael Young drove in a career-high seven runs, including a go-ahead grand slam in the eighth, during a game that featured a bench-clearing altercation in the first inning.
“(Padilla) pitches inside,” Rangers rookie manager Ron Washington said. “The ball came inside and hit him. He pitches inside. He always pitches inside. There’s not much more to it than that.”
Young is batting .348 (8-for-23) in six games this season against the Twins, but has no RBIs.
Kevin Slowey (3-0, 5.44 ERA) moves back into Minnesota’s rotation, replacing an ineffective Boof Bonser. A rookie right-hander, Slowey was originally scheduled to start Sunday, but instead pitched 3 1-3 innings at Kansas City in relief of Carlos Silva on Wednesday.
Slowey gave up three runs and six hits, including two homers after Silva left with a groin injury.
Although he has avoided his first loss in eight starts, Slowey has allowed four runs or more in five of those appearances while yielding 14 home runs.
Edinson Volquez (2-1, 4.24) looks to rebound from the worst of his three starts this season for Texas. The right-hander was reached for five runs and seven hits in six innings Wednesday in a 5-1 loss at Detroit.
He walked four and struck out a career-high six after giving up only three runs over 11 innings in his first two starts.
Volquez, who has never faced the Twins, is 1-5 with a 10.22 ERA in six career road starts.