Aggressive baserunning sinks Twins late
Three outs in eighth and ninth inning come on basepaths in low-scoring contest
MINNEAPOLIS -- After Trevor Plouffe made a baserunning blunder in Friday's victory, Twins manager Paul Molitor joked that he had been teaching the third baseman baserunning for eight or nine years.
"You can joke a little bit when it ends up 7-2, but we've played enough games as of late that the little things matter," Molitor said Friday.
Saturday was one of those games. Between the eighth and ninth innings in Saturday's 4-1 loss to the Cubs, three Twins made outs on the basepaths. And though they may not have been as bad as Plouffe's, they had a huge impact on a close game.
After drawing a leadoff walk in the eighth inning, center fielder and No. 1 prospect Byron Buxton was thrown out by Dexter Fowler trying to reach second on a flyout. After the double play, left fielder Eddie Rosario singled before he was picked off by catcher David Ross to end the inning.
"He's been doing a lot of good things on the bases," Molitor said of Rosario. "He got caught a little out of balance … and [Ross] made him pay."
In the ninth, first baseman Joe Mauer was caught stealing. He seemed to beat the throw, and he was ruled safe before Cubs manager Joe Maddon challenged the call. After a review, it was clear that Mauer overslid second base, and the call was overturned.
"We had some chances. Buxton did a good job of trying to tag up on that ball," Molitor said. "He got blocked in on with his foot, and then we had a base stolen and just couldn't hold on to the base. Little things like that, they make a big difference in close ballgames."
Molitor said he didn't have any problem with Buxton's play. After Buxton walked, he wanted to see if Cubs reliever Pedro Strop would regain command.
"[Strop] was a little errant in getting Buxton out in the first place, so I didn't want to go right into a bunt situation there," Molitor said. "I wanted to see if he could respond, throw some strikes. The tag up on that ball got through from the edge of the track, and [Buxton] beat the play and just couldn't get his hand to the base."
Molitor stood on the top step of the dugout before getting "an absolute thumbs down," and deciding not to challenge.
Though Minnesota's baserunning mistakes may have looked worse Friday, the three outs on the basepaths late in Saturday's game loomed larger because the Twins weren't able to do much against Cubs starter Jon Lester. But unlike the Twins two innings prior, the Cubs were able to cash in on their late opportunity after a Brian Dozier error opened the 10th inning.
"It just became kind of a three-inning game there at the end. Chances on both sides," Molitor said. "They had a lot of baserunners today it seemed like, and they finally capitalized there. We didn't execute a play to start the inning."