The Twins have spent, it feels like, almost an entire season waiting for their lineup to get healthy. They’ve been patient, careful to not bring players back too quickly because even in a 60-game season where every game holds greater importance, making sure their players are healthy for the postseason has been a top priority.
Friday, in their 7-2 loss to the Reds at Target Field, they trotted out one of their strongest lineups of the season — one that resembled a playoff lineup. It lasted just an inning.
Third baseman Josh Donaldson exited after the first inning with a right calf cramp, the Twins say. He is day-to-day, but any calf injury is worrisome for Donaldson, who has had a history of issues with both of his calves. Donaldson missed half of the season with a right calf strain suffered at the end of July. Upon his return earlier this month, the Twins eased him back into action.
Later in the game, Byron Buxton was hit on the helmet by a pitch, and fell to the ground immediately. Buxton was able to get up and walk off under his own power, but left the game with a trainer. The Twins say Buxton has a head contusion and is day-to-day. He will be re-evaluated on Saturday.
Baldelli said he did not have a thorough update on either after Friday night’s game, but expected to know more on Saturday.
“We would love to have our group out there on the field and playing over the next couple of days,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “Obviously we’re still playing and hopeful to play to win the division as well. The health of our players is going to come first and foremost and trying to get ready for the playoffs as well. It’s a balance as we’ve said amongst all those things but we’re going to evaluate them first and start there.”
The Donaldson and Buxton news is more worrisome for the Twins (35-23) than the loss itself. The Twins maintained their hold on first place as the White Sox were blown out by the Cubs. The White Sox trail the Twins by a game, and now so do the Indians, who walked off the Pirates in Cleveland on Friday night.
Jose Berrios, who is lined up to start the second game of the Wild Card Series next Wednesday, gave up four runs to the Reds (35-23) in his final tune-up. Two of those came in the fourth inning on a Mike Moustakas home run with another two an inning later — one on a Freddy Galvis home run.
“(The) pitch to Moustakas, I wanted it to be more down. I left it up a little bit. And then with Galvis, I wanted to go in but I left the ball in the zone. And then with a man on second with Nick Castellanos, I wanted a slider to chase, but I left it there, and he had the chance to hit it to left field,” Berrios said. “Other than that, I felt great. My fastball was there. It felt strong. My breaking ball, I think, had the shape. Everything’s working good for next week.”
Moustakas later welcomed rookie Edwar Colina, making his major league debut, to the big leagues with a home run to lead off the ninth inning. Colina gave up three runs and recorded just an out in his debut.
The Twins, though they had some opportunities throughout the game including the first inning when they left the bases loaded, scored just twice in the loss. Their first run came on an Ehire Adrianza RBI double in the third which drove in Max Kepler and their second came in the sixth when Marwin Gonzalez delivered a two-out run-scoring single.
The Twins went 2-for-13 with runners in scoring position and left 11 men on base in the loss.
“It is hard when you’re battling in a fairly competitive ballgame and the more times those opportunities come up and we’re not able to get it done, the more difficult it feels like it becomes going forward in the game but no, we just weren’t able to get it done when we needed it,” Baldelli said.
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