Mental mistake: Sano out at 3rd to end game

With Twins scuffling, young outfielder gets overaggressive on basepaths

May 2nd, 2016

MINNEAPOLIS -- The message on the whiteboard in the Twins' clubhouse reminded the players that their 7-17 April was behind them with a new month, and to relax and have fun against the Tigers on Sunday.

But it's easier said than done, as the Twins let mental mistakes late in the game hurt them yet again in a 6-5 loss to Detroit to suffer a three-game sweep to close their homestand. The most glaring mistake was at the end of the game, when Miguel Sano doubled to right field off closer Francisco Rodriguez, only to get thrown out easily at third base to end the game.

"It's a symptom of where we're at," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "Young players get emotional and try to do more than what the situation calls for. There's no advantage to get to third there. We all see that, but not from a perspective in the middle of a play. He's trying to play emotionally and trying to help the team. It cost us there, at least in terms of having a chance to have a game-tying hit."

Sano, 22, acknowledged he made a mistake, as he said he was simply trying to be aggressive to spark a two-out rally. He vowed to learn from it, as he said he knows there's not much of a benefit to being at third base instead of second base with two outs.

"It was a big situation in the game and we were looking for one score," Sano said. "I had a lot of motivation to try to make it to third and try to make a score for the team. But it was a mistake. I just need to learn from the mistake in the game."

It was the third hit of the game for Sano, who walked in the first inning, hit a ground-rule double in the third and singled as part of a three-run fifth. But Sano said his baserunning gaffe erased any positive feelings.

"For me, it was a bad game," Sano said. "I don't care I had three hits. If my team isn't winning, I don't feel happy. I don't care how many hits, or if I hit a homer. More importantly, it's about the team winning."

The Twins also couldn't execute a relay play in the eighth, when the Tigers scored the go-ahead run on a double to left from Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Eddie Rosario got the throw in to shortstop Eduardo Escobar, but he couldn't get it out of his glove, allowing Justin Upton to score from first base.

It led to another one-run loss for the Twins, who are 4-7 in those games this year, including three losses by one run over their last seven games. Molitor said he's trying his best to keep his team upbeat, but it's been a tough stretch for Minnesota, which now has the worst record in the American League.

"Of course I'm concerned about that," Molitor said. "The game can beat you up. Whether it's collective or individually, we're struggling. Some guys are doing OK, but as a team we're not doing very well. The responsibility falls on myself and the coaches to keep these guys looking forward and not backward."