Twins end road trip with loss; players tense as trading deadline nears

SAN DIEGO – The Twins had only two tantalizing scoring opportunities all day Sunday, and they couldn’t manage so much as a well-placed ground ball or a broken-bat blooper to bring runs home. The Padres had only one such chance during the game, and … well, they pulled out a victory with a well-placed ground ball and a broken-bat blooper.

“And that’s the game we play,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said of the 3-2 disappointment at Petco Park. “Sometimes you’ve just got to put the ball in play and see what happens.”

What happened was, the Twins let a winnable, well-pitched game slip away. Yes, it’s only one game, but it was a painful one for the Twins, who were trying to close the month of July with a .500 record, and their longest road trip of the season with a winning one. Instead, it goes down as a 10-12 month and a 3-4 travelogue, and a humbling way to wait for whatever help the front office can acquire in deadline deals to arrive.

“We haven’t played our best baseball all year. We haven’t been healthy all year. Those are two true things,” Twins President of Baseball Operations Derek Falvey said on the team’s radio network shortly before the loss. “We’re going to try to find ways to add to this group.”

The need appears urgent, given the standings. Cleveland and Chicago both won on Sunday, pulling the Guardians within one game and the White Sox within two for the AL Central lead. The trade deadline is at 5 pm Tuesday, and the Twins clubhouse is tense as negotiations go on.

“That’s something I don’t have control of. That’s their job,” said rookie Jose Miranda, who smashed a solo shot to center field in the sixth inning, one inning after Luis Arraez hit a rocket of his own into the right field seats , to put the Twins ahead 2-1 — providing all the offense the team could muster against Padres starter Sean Manaea and three relievers. “Sometimes we think [about] what could we need or where can we get better, but we can’t say anything because we don’t have anything to do with that.”

Miranda could have done something about the Twins’ 0-for-4 shutout with runners in scoring position, coming to the plate in the first inning after Manaea walked two of the first three hitters he faced. But Kyle Garlick missed a two-strike high fastball and Miranda missed a two-strike low changeup, and the inning ended.

Manaea retired 11 hitters in a row until Arraez’s leadoff home run in the fifth, then gave up back-to-back singles to Tim Beckham, making his Twins debut, and Gilberto Celestino. Caleb Hamilton bunted both runners into scoring position, but Byron Buxton struck out and after Carlos Correa was intentionally walked, Jorge Polanco grounded into a force play.

“Those are the guys we want coming up. I liked where we were sitting at that point,” Baldelli said of his team, which went down in order over the final three innings. “Today, we didn’t get it done.”

The Padres did, even though Dylan Bundy allowed only two baserunners in five innings, one of them Jurickson Profar, who homered just inside the right field foul pole. But when Trent Grisham and Profar singled to open the sixth, Baldelli went to former Padres reliever Emilio Pagan to get out of trouble. He got Manny Machado to fly out, but Jake Cronenworth smacked a one-hop grounder that squirted under first baseman Arraez’s glove and into right field. Luke Voit followed with an opposite-field popup that landed to score Profar with the go-ahead run.

“We had the ballgame within our grasp. We hit some balls good, but it didn’t seem like many of them were going to find grass today, which was tough,” Baldelli said. “It felt like the game was right there.”

And then it was gone.

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