Plenty of baserunners, little production as Twins fall to Guardians 3-1

Perhaps the most telling illustration of how the Twins' season is going is the fact that Alex Kirilloff has tripled in three consecutive games.

No, that's not the emblematic part — it's what happens after Kirilloff reaches third base. All three times, the triple came with one out. And all three times, Kirilloff didn't score.

"It's frustrating. I mean, we haven't cashed in much at all this year," manager Rocco Baldelli said of his team's costly inability to drive in runs, a failure that has reached epic levels in their two games at Target Field, the latest being Saturday's 3-1 loss to the Guardians. "It's not going to last forever, we know that, but all of these games matter and the sooner we figure this out, the better."

The Twins were held to only two hits Saturday, but it wasn't exactly a masterpiece by Guardians pitchers. No, the Twins inflicted this loss on themselves.

Minnesota hitters drew seven walks, were hit by three pitches and received that now-daily triple from Kirilloff. But all those opportunities produced just one run. The Twins went 0-for-11 with runners on second or third base, bringing their Target Field total to 0-for-23 after two games. Seven of those outs came in the form of strikeouts, half of their 14 whiffs overall. If you're keeping track, that's 29 strikeouts (10 of them on called third strikes) and only nine hits in 18 innings this year in their two home games.

"It just gets magnified when it's happening day after day," said Carlos Correa, whose two-out, ninth-inning single elicited mock cheers from what was left of the announced 25,806 in attendance. "There are some games out there you feel like you should have won. There's a lot of work to do on our end when it comes to our approach as a group. We've just got to figure it out sooner or later."

Sure, Carlos Carrasco, Nick Sandlin, Cade Smith, Hunter Gaddis, Scott Barlow, Tyler Beede and Emmanuel Clase deserve some congratulations for the seven hitless innings between the first and ninth. But two-hitters don't usually come with a whopping 11 runners left on base.

Carrasco, who had given up nine runs in his last two starts against the Twins, walked Correa in the first inning, then watched Kirilloff pull a sinker past first baseman Josh Naylor and into the right-field corner, scoring Correa. The play was originally ruled an error on Naylor, but official scorer Sarah Johnson reviewed the play and changed it to Kirilloff's third triple in three games.

Kirilloff joins Rod Carew, Dan Gladden, Delmon Young and Eddie Rosario as the only Twins ever to triple in three consecutive games, and he can tie the MLB record of four in a row on Sunday. But he's the first one to do it without ever scoring from third base.

That's because Byron Buxton followed with a ground ball to shortstop Brayan Rocchio, who threw Kirilloff out at home. Carrasco then struck out Kepler, and the pattern was set for the afternoon. The Twins advanced runners to second or third base in four of the next six innings, but always failed to get a run-scoring hit.

"You press when you're not getting things done," Baldelli said. "When you're not doing what you want, it is a game that can get in [your head]. It's part of our game."

BOXSCORE: Cleveland 3, Twins 1

Too bad, because, outside of one rough inning, Joe Ryan was mostly sharp again. The righthander pitched six innings and gave up only five hits and no walks while striking out seven. But he absorbed his first loss of the season, one that dropped the Twins to 3-4 on the year, because with two outs in the second inning and two runners on base, Ryan left an 83-mph sweeper over the heart of the plate.

Guardians catcher David Fry pummeled that mistake 424 feet into the upper deck in left field, handing Cleveland the only lead it would need.

"That pitch didn't spin the way it usually does. It was one of the lower movements of the day for the sweeper, so that's kind of annoying," Ryan said. "[The lineup] gave me a run today, and if I don't make that one pitch, it could be a different game and we're looking at a happy clubhouse now."