(image courtesy Yahoo! Sports)
- Punto homers, Mauer goes 0-6, and the Twins Lose 5-3
The Twins blew a huge chance to gain ground on both the Tigers and White Sox, who both lost earlier. Making matters worse is the fact that the Twins had the lead for most of the game. Frankie even had a pretty decent night, surrendering three runs (two earned) in six innings while striking out six and walking three. But the Rangers kept chipping away at the lead all night long, and the Twins kept stranding baserunners all night long. You could blame the bullpen for this loss, you could blame Gardy and some of his, um, interesting pinch-hitting choices and management of the bullpen, but really the Twins lost this one because they left 10 freakin' runners stranded on base. And the best hitters in the lineup (Span, Mauer, Morneau) all went hitless, that doesn't help much, either.
Still, even with a loss, the Twins only trail the Sox by a half game, and the Tigers by two. This is the fourth road series they've won in a row, improving their record to 19-25, which isn't bad for a team that used to have the worst road record in the league.
The Twins signed Mark Grudzielanek to a minor-league deal earlier this afternoon, and for now this looks like their solution to the second-base problem. It's not such a bad signing, since he isn't guaranteed a starting job (unlike Sidney Ponson) and thus won't cost the team millions of dollars if he ends up sucking. And though he's 39 years old, Grudzielanek put up pretty good numbers with the Royals last year. He doesn't have much power, but he is a decent contact hitter and is at least average on defense, something the Twins have lacked from their current options at second. Still, with the Brewers acquiring Felipe Lopez from the Diamondbacks for a couple of marginal prospects, one has to wonder why the Twins' front office seems to have so much difficulty making trades. Obviously, it doesn't make sense to trade away top prospects for a replacement-level infielder, but the Twins seem reluctant to part with any prospects, even marginal ones.