In more ways than one, the Minnesota Twins' weekend trip to the nation's capital was a sojourn of botched opportunities.
The Washington Nationals' top two players watched from the dugout, but Minnesota went 1-2 for the second consecutive three-game road series. The Twins held a commanding lead midway through the series' curtain-closer, but Washington responded with four unanswered runs en route to a doubleheader sweep. Minnesota had a chance to enter its longest homestand of the season having won 10 of its past 12 contests. Instead, the Twins will return to Target Field on Tuesday with a four-losses-in-five-games hangover.
Shaking it off will be integral to any hopes of ascending from the American League Central Division's bottom tier.
"Very frustrating game for us," Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said after Sunday night's 5-4 loss.
The final bout of angst came courtesy of a Washington run in each of the fifth, sixth and seventh innings of the Tropical Storm Andrea-induced twinbill's nightcap. Back-to-back doubles by Adam LaRoche and Ian Desmond erased a Twins advantage that had stood at 4-1 thanks to a two-run double by catcher Chris Hermann in the second and a two-run home run from shortstop Pedro Florimon in the third.
But Minnesota starter Samuel Deduno couldn't make it past the fifth inning, and Anthony Swarzak took over and surrendered the tying and go-ahead runs in Minnesota's 10th one-run setback this season.
A Twins player manned each corner with two outs in the top of the ninth, but Josh Willingham sent a harmless pop-up into foul territory just beyond the first-base line, capping a weekend where Minnesota went 3-for-29 with runners in scoring position.
"We couldn't come up with one more big hit," Gardenhire said. "We hit some rockets, and you know what? They've got people standing right there. It's just one of those nights where we hit some balls right on the screws, and they seemed to be at them tonight."
The Twins entered the weekend batting an AL-worst .254 with runners in scoring position.
Even with pitcher Stephen Strasburg and outfielder Bryce Harper on the disabled list, Minnesota could only generate one extra-innings win in Washington D.C. The Twins continue interleague play with a three-game home series against Philadelphia that begins at 7:10 p.m. Tuesday.
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