Pirates add to Twins' struggles

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Megan Ryan, Star Tribune
·2 min read
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Not even brief sprays of snowflakes could wake up the Twins on Sunday in a 6-2 loss to Pittsburgh.

After the excitement of Friday's almost-no-hitter at Target Field — in which the Twins held on for a 2-0 victory — the rest of the three-game series with the Pirates was kind of a bore. The Twins fell behind early Saturday before losing 6-2. And in the finale, a hit-filled first inning gave way to a middle-inning lull that nearly put the 9,396 fans in attendance into a collective afternoon nap.

The Twins have lost 11 of their past 13 games.

Twins starting pitcher Matt Shoemaker allowed three hits to the first three batters he faced, including base hits for Adam Frazier and Phillip Evans and an RBI double for Bryan Reynolds. Colan Moran's sacrifice fly then made Pittsburgh's lead two runs.

Luis Arraez and Josh Donaldson managed back-to-back hits as a follow-up, with Byron Buxton eventually scoring Arraez with his liner to left field.

A challenge, when the umpires ruled Jorge Polanco's ground ball was a base hit after initially calling him out at first base, gave the Twins their last hit in the second inning before a long drought.

The Pirates went on to outhit the Twins 12-7, adding to their lead in the top of the seventh inning with three more runs. Reliever Cody Stashak, brought in from the St. Paul alternate site ahead of the game, also allowed three consecutive hits, with Kevin Newman eventually driving in a run with his ground ball to center field. Frazier than notched his own RBI single on a ground ball to right field after Caleb Thielbar took over for Stashak. Reynold's second RBI double of the game made it 5-1.

Willians Astudillo was the one, per usual, to break the monotony and arouse some smiles and cheers. With the final out of the marathon seventh hanging near foul territory in right field, Astudillo tracked backward from first base, barely turning before tumbling over right fielder Jake Cave, who made a diving catch. Astudillo then came to the plate with two outs in the bottom of the seventh and slapped a line-drive base hit.

The Twins were 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position, leaving seven on base.

Gregory Polanco hit a homer off reliever Jorge Alcala in the eighth, but Nelson Cruz responded with his own solo 411-footer to left-center field.

Shoemaker (1-2) lasted just more than five innings, allowing six hits, two earned runs and a walk. Pittsburgh starter Wil Crowe, making his first start for the team as a morning-of addition to the roster, went four innings with four hits, one earned run and two walks.