Twins show grit in hitfest, but fall to Cubs

Astudillo provides silver lining with first big league hit

June 30th, 2018

CHICAGO -- It was a wild game that saw Joe Mauer drive home three more runs, smack a two-run homer, Willians Astudillo get his first Major League hit and three players exit due to heat illness over 3 hours and 46 minutes, but it ended with yet another loss for the Twins.

Minnesota pitchers combined to give up 20 hits -- 17 singles and three doubles -- in a 14-9 loss to the Cubs on a Saturday afternoon at Wrigley Field that saw the temperature rise to 95 degrees with a heat index of 107. It was the Twins' seventh loss over their past nine games, dropping them to a season-worst nine games under .500.

"We just couldn't keep them off base -- they had a lot of singles," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "They kept hitting them in the right spot. They were grinding, particularly after we had taken the lead in the fifth inning. You just try to find a way to get off the field, and they just kept getting hits."

Lefty , making his season debut, was spotted a three-run lead with Mauer connecting on a three-run double off right-hander in the second, a day after Mauer drove in five runs. But Mejia gave up three runs in the bottom of the third with the Cubs connecting on four straight singles to open the frame. He gave up a go-ahead run in the fourth on a sacrifice fly from Albert Almora Jr. despite a great diving catch by Jake Cave in center.

"The first couple innings, I felt good," Mejia said. "Around the third inning, it just got really hot out there."

But the Twins retook the lead with a four-run fifth, keyed by Rosario's team-leading 18th homer of the year. added a two-run single to give Minnesota a 7-4 lead. Rosario, though, exited in the bottom of the inning with heat illness.

The lead was also short-lived, as the Cubs came right back with five runs in the bottom of the inning with both and Zach Duke struggling. The Cubs had seven hits in the inning, all of which were singles. Reed was charged with four runs while recording two outs, and Duke was charged with one.

Minnesota tied it with two runs in the sixth against former Twins lefty , with providing a sacrifice fly and Astudillo bringing home a run with an RBI single on the first pitch he'd seen in his career.

"I just went out there to have fun, to support my teammates and do my best," Astudillo said through an interpreter. "I was just trying to put the ball in play, make good contact, and I just hit the first pitch."

But it was far from enough with another five-run inning from the Cubs in the seventh, as right-hander uncharacteristically struggled, snapping a scoreless streak of 18 innings dating back to May 18. He loaded the bases with no outs, giving up an RBI single to just over the head of Adrianza with the infield in. added a two-run double that deflected off Adrianza's glove. knocked a sacrifice fly, and singled with the bases loaded to bring in Baez.

"We fought, we got back even at 9," Molitor said. "And they pulled away."

THREE EXIT WITH HEAT ILLNESS

Rosario left the game in the fifth inning, as he began experiencing heat illness while playing left field, while catcher Bobby Wilson exited in the sixth after drawing a leadoff walk and eventually scoring on a sacrifice fly. Rosario was replaced by Astudillo in left, while took over for Wilson in the bottom of the sixth. Right fielder Max Kepler then exited the game in the eighth inning, forcing to take over in left with Astudillo in center and Robbie Grossman in right.

"All the guys talked about faintness and nausea," Molitor said. "You worry about a guy just kneeling out there and passing out or whatever. I give Bobby credit for trying to get around the bases there. I didn't know if he was going to be able to catch or not. When he got in, we realized it was too risky." More >

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS

Cave made a great diving catch in center to rob Almora of extra bases in the fourth inning, but it brought home a run on sacrifice fly. Almora tipped his cap to Cave after the catch. It was a three-star catch, per Statcast™, as it had a catch percentage of 70 percent. He needed to cover 75 feet in 4.6 seconds to make the diving grab.

"I've been on the other side of that," Almora said. "You did all you could in that at-bat to come through for your team. Sometimes you just need to tip your cap. It's about respect."

HE SAID IT

"Never had to deal with it. You never want to come out of a Major League game. When you can't really see and your head is spinning and you don't really know what's going on, it's tough to leave you in there." -- Wilson, who grew up in Florida and played in Texas for the Rangers from 2015-16

UP NEXT

Right-hander (5-6, 4.81 ERA) will start for the Twins in the series finale against the Cubs on Sunday at 1:20 p.m. CT at Wrigley Field. Lynn is coming off a loss against the White Sox, allowing five runs (four earned) on eight hits over five-plus innings. He has a 2.83 ERA in five June starts. The Cubs will start veteran lefty (10-2, 2.18 ERA).