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07/23/08 6:37 PM ET
Frustrated Twins fall in finale to Yanks
Mental errors, light hitting doom club in fourth straight loss
By Kelly Thesier / MLB.com
NEW YORK -- Every time that the Twins have come to Yankee Stadium since the start of the 2002 season, it has been a series to forget. Such was the case this week, as Minnesota lost its first two games in New York to complete a seventh consecutive series loss there. But the Twins were hoping for a positive sendoff in their final contest at the storied ballpark on Wednesday afternoon. Instead, Minnesota only watched as things unraveled yet again in a 5-1 loss to New York, which completed a series sweep. "You wanted to show yourself a little better in this series, and we didn't," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We played terrible baseball pretty much the whole way through. Funny things happen here to us. I don't know why." Frustration had appeared to be setting in for the Twins following their loss on Tuesday night to the Yankees. But on Wednesday afternoon, it boiled over. Carlos Gomez snapped a bat over his leg after recording an out in the third inning. Nick Punto threw his helmet across the field after grounding into a double play in the fifth. And starter Glen Perkins verbally lashed out at Alexi Casilla after the second baseman forgot how many outs there were in the fifth inning -- a blunder that sent Minnesota into a tailspin. The Twins and Yankees had been embroiled in a scoreless contest until the bottom of the fifth. Perkins, who had allowed just two hits in his first four innings, gave up back-to-back one-out singles. That's when he got catcher Jose Molina to hit a ground ball directly to third baseman Brendan Harris. It looked like a tailor-made double-play ball, except Casilla was not at second base. He ran to the bag to make the catch for the second out of the inning, but Casilla couldn't turn the double play because he started running toward the dugout as if the inning was over. So instead of getting out of the inning, the Twins were left with runners on first and third with two outs. All because Casilla had mistaken the number of outs. "There are scoreboards everywhere in this game," Gardenhire said. "Not knowing how many outs there are, that's just not excusable. That blew our team apart today." Casilla declined requests to speak to the media after the game. It wasn't the first time in his career that Casilla has made such a blunder. It happened last season in Baltimore when he was on base and stopped in the middle of an attempted steal when a ball was hit, forgetting there were two outs in the inning. That time, it was just a frustrating mental error, as Casilla still made it to second base. But on Wednesday, it proved costly. Things immediately went downhill after Casilla's mental mistake. Perkins was visibly agitated following the play, and he couldn't settle himself down in the ensuing at-bat. On a 1-0 pitch to Justin Christian, Perkins gave up a double that scooted just inside the left-field line. It scored two runs to give the Yankees a 2-0 lead. "Perk, I think, lost his concentration," Gardenhire said. "And it showed. We have young players and we don't like to talk about that much. But we played young in this ballpark, and that's a little disappointing." The Twins would never recover from the difficult inning. Perkins (7-3) struggled again when he came out for the start of the sixth, allowing three runs in the inning. And once again the club watched as it was unable to do anything right in this ballpark. "I think it was the three games here where we didn't play our best, obviously," Perkins said. "And it came to a head today." Having been outscored, 25-7, in the series against the Yankees and suffering another sweep on the road, the Twins will now head to Cleveland for a three-game set that will follow Thursday's off-day. Gardenhire said he plans to hold a meeting on the first day of the series to hopefully get his club to regroup. "We've got to figure out something when we get to Cleveland to get our mojo back, because we lost a little bit of it here," Gardenhrie said. "It's not a good feeling right now." Not that the Twins are unfamiliar with finding ways to bounce back from disappointing series. It was shortly after a disastrous four-game series in Chicago against the White Sox that the club started on a streak of winning 18 of 21 games. Following a three-game sweep in Boston earlier this month, Minnesota then took three of four in Detroit. It's a trend that the team hopes to continue this weekend. "We've followed up those tough series with good ones," Justin Morneau said. "It's probably good that we are young with short memories and forget those series quick. You just hope we spend the off-day watching movies, playing golf and forgetting about New York." One positive for the Twins is they can now say goodbye to a ballpark that has been quite unkind to the club recently. The Twins are just 3-19 at Yankee Stadium since the start of the 2002 season, and hope is for better memories to come in the Big Apple. "I guess what we have to look forward to is the new stadium," Gardenhire said. "Maybe we can leave all that other stuff behind here and do better there."
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.