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Minnesota Twins Can’t Catch a Break in Losing Streak

Blown Save Leads to Seventh Straight Loss, Injury to Trevor Plouffe

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COMMENTARY | The Minnesota Twins came into Tuesday, May 21 needing to get starting pitcher Mike Pelfrey deep into the game.

Not only had the Twins lost six games in a row, but they also had been getting terrible starting pitching, so much so that Caleb Thielbar was called up to replace starter Pedro Hernandez to give the Twins an extra arm in the bullpen.

The Twins' bullpen had pitched at least four innings in each of the last four days, so the Twins really needed Pelfrey to just give them innings, if nothing else. So, what happens? A long rain delay forces Pelfrey out after two innings, and they end up losing in 10 innings after the bullpen was forced to pitch eight more innings.

Pretty much everything that can go wrong has gone wrong during the last seven games for the Twins. The two starters that had been performing well early on, Kevin Correia and Scott Diamond both were roughed up in shortened starts during this streak.

Even Josh Willingham, who was the Twins' most consistent run producer in 2012, has been in an awful slump while the Twins struggle to generate offense. And now the Twins will probably be without Trevor Plouffe, who is batting .292/.365/.477 in May. Plouffe was taken out of the game Tuesday after the knee of Atlanta Braves second baseman Dan Uggla collided with his head while Plouffe was sliding into second base in the 10th inning.

Trevor Plouffe's Possible Concussion Could Mean a Long Stint on Disabled List

Plouffe was in obvious pain after the incident and was seen going in the clubhouse with his eyes shielded. Sensitivity to light is a common symptom of a concussion. The play was reminiscent of a similar play in Toronto nearly three years ago that gave Justin Morneau a concussion. It put him on the disabled list for the last half of the 2010 season with concussion symptoms, and he clearly wasn't the same player in 2011.

Not only does this take one of the few productive hitters out of the Twins' lineup, but it also leaves a hole on the field that the Twins will have a hard time filling. The Twins' Class AAA affiliate, the Rochester Red Wings are using a combination of weak-hitting utility players to cover third base, so there really isn't anyone the Twins can call up to fill third base on a daily basis.

The most likely scenario is the Twins will use Jamey Carroll at third base and call up Ray Olmedo or Brian Dinkelman to sit on the bench. This at least allows Carroll to continue to bat leadoff, but it will just mean more at-bats for second baseman Brian Dozier, who continues to flounder at the plate.

Carroll at third base will give the Twins better defense at third base. It may not offset the drop in production at the plate, but the Twins' starting pitchers put the ball in play more than any in MLB and better defense might help them go deeper into games.

Blown Save by Glen Perkins Couldn't Come at a Worse Time for Minnesota Twins

All of this could have been avoided if closer Glen Perkins had been able to put the game away in the ninth inning. It was Perkins' first blown save of the season, but it couldn't come at a worse time. The Twins were one out away from a nice comeback victory on the road against a very good Braves team when Evan Gattis homered off Perkins to tie it.

It was a fitting end to the game when Freddie Freeman got a single on a two-out, broken-bat flare to drive in the winning run. Just another bad break in a week full of them for the Twins.

Darin McGilvra has been a professional sportswriter since 1997 and has been a Twins follower since Kirby Puckett's breakout season of 1986. He has been published in The Californian, a newspaper covering Riverside County, and numerous other websites.

Follow Darin on Twitter at @SoCalTwinsfan.

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