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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Twins have been all but mathematically eliminated from the playoffs for months. And manager Ron Gardenhire thinks his team is playing like it has given up.
Minnesota was held to four hits and shutout for the second straight game, while the Tampa Bay Rays protected their wild-card lead by beating the Twins 7-0 in a game delayed 2 hours, 4 minutes by rain.
“Those guys are playing for something over there,” Gardenhire said. “They’re into the game and we didn’t look like we were really getting after it too much. And I guess the weather really bothered us a lot more, which is pretty disappointing.”
Andrew Albers (2-3) allowed four runs in four innings for Minnesota, but was done early because of the lengthy delay. After winning his first two starts, the rookie hasn’t won in more than a month.
Albers and Tampa Bay starter Matt Moore had to wait through a 7-minute delay to begin the game and didn’t get to finish their starts.
“It’s one of those nights where you’ve got to be mentally tough,” Albers said. “Everyone’s got to deal with the same conditions. Everyone’s got to be able to deal with it. It’s one of those things you go out and you get back into your game and your routine and once the game starts, it’s OK. The conditions weren’t too bad. I’ve definitely played in worse. It wasn’t really a factor too much.”
The Twins, once the midmarket darling with a reputation for building teams right way, have lost 11 straight games to the Rays, now looked at as the model for how to draft and develop players. Minnesota has lost four games in a row overall and is 3-13 at home since Aug. 16.
A big reason for the Target Field troubles is an offense that is setting team records for futility. The Twins haven’t scored in 19 innings and have been outscored on their current four-game losing streak 36-5. With 10 more strikeouts Saturday, Minnesota extended its club record in a season to 1,269, trailing only Houston (1,384 entering Saturday) in all of baseball.
The Twins left seven runners on base Saturday, four in scoring position.
“We just didn’t get it done,” Gardenhire said. “We didn’t play worth a flip and they did. We missed opportunities, mostly because their pitching staff shut us down and they got some hits. They’re in a pennant race. They’ve got a lot on the line and they’re hungry. We’ve got to figure out a way to do a little better job of staying in these games ourselves.”
Desmond Jennings hit a pair of RBI doubles as the Rays stayed 1½ games ahead of Cleveland for the second AL wild-card spot.
Moore struck out five over three innings and has only allowed one earned run in 14 2-3 innings since coming off the disabled list earlier this month. Brandon Gomes (1-1) pitched the fourth inning and got the win.
The few fans remaining in Target Field cheered as the tarp was pulled off the infield, and the Rays went right back to work having their way with the Twins once the game resumed. Minnesota hasn’t beat Tampa Bay since April 20 of last season.
NOTES: Twins GM Terry Ryan said C Joe Mauer (concussion) didn’t take batting practice or run the bases before the game, but he did do cardio work with team trainers. … Tampa Bay’s Ben Zobrist — hitless in his last 15 at-bats — was given the night off. … It was the sixth weather-affected game at Target Field this season. … David Price (8-8, 3.45) will try to break a three-start losing streak when he starts for the Rays in Sunday’s series finale. For Minnesota, Pedro Hernandez (3-1, 5.25) will make his first start against the Rays.
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