December 3, 2022

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'Tough sledding' at plate continues in shutout

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KANSAS CITY — When the Twins boarded their charter plane following an eight-run outburst against the Red Sox on Patriots Day at Fenway Park, optimism was in the air. Minnesota was off to return to the Midwest, and was hopeful that the series finale victory over Boston would be a springboard to a successful series against the Royals.

The weather in Kansas City has been cool, and so have the Minnesota bats, continuing an early season trend. Twelve games in, the Twins are asking themselves one basic question: Where’s the offense?

On Wednesday, Minnesota lost 2-0 to Kansas City at Kauffman Stadium while managing just five scattered singles. That means the 4-8 Twins have now scored three or fewer runs in eight of their 12 games.

Chris Paddack allowed two runs and five hits over five innings. Caleb Thielbar followed with a scoreless sixth, and Cody Stashak finished the game with two perfect frames.

The Royals started young left-hander Daniel Lynch, and Jorge Polanco delivered a sharp single to left to start the game. But No. 2 hitter Carlos Correa promptly bounced into a double play, and Lynch was off and running. That early sequence symbolized the Minnesota plight.

“It’s been tough sledding recently,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “There have been some days that were better than others. This one didn’t resemble [Tuesday], when we swung the bats really well. We didn’t swing the bats well at all [Wednesday]. We had some pitches to hit. I think the plan we went into the game with made a lot of sense. But we didn’t execute our plan up and down the lineup.”

Even though Baldelli had been happy with the way Minnesota made solid contact in the series opener, the result was a 4-3 loss. In that game, the Twins managed to put together eight hits from the third through the fifth and yet wound up with just three runs for the night.

On Wednesday, the Twins hit into three double plays and never put serious pressure on Lynch and a Kansas City bullpen that was lights out for the second night in a row.

“When it comes time to get a hit, we aren’t getting them often enough,” Ryan Jeffers said. “We’re not hitting for power when we need to hit for power. It’s frustrating.”

Jeffers complimented Lynch on the outing, but said Minnesota should have done more at the plate.

“Good arm,” Jeffers said. “I think we could have hit him better than we did.”

Lynch surrendered four hits over five innings. When he allowed a leadoff single to Correa in the sixth with the Twins down by two, Royals manager Mike Matheny went to right-hander Collin Snider. The first hitter to face Snider was Gio Urshela, and he promptly rolled into a double play. It was simply that kind of night for Minnesota.

Certainly, the Twins’ offense could get a boost when Byron Buxton and Alex Kirilloff get healthy and hit their stride. But for now, the other Twins will have to figure it out for themselves.

“It feels like when we get a baserunner or two, we’re trying to do a little too much,” Baldelli said.

Jeffers said he’s confident the Twins will elevate to a more consistent offensive pattern in the near future.

“We feel like we are really close, but it’s just not happening,” Jeffers said. “I don’t think anyone in this [clubhouse] is worried, though. Twelve games in? Hey, we’ve got a good team here.”

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