Twins leave 15 men on base in 6-2 loss to Texas
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- The Minnesota Twins kept putting guys on base, and Yu Darvish kept them there.
It's the story of Minnesota's season so far.
Darvish went five-plus innings, Josh Hamilton homered and the Texas Rangers beat the Twins 6-2 on Saturday.
Adrian Beltre drove in two runs and put Texas ahead with a single in the seventh that scored Brandon Snyder, who had a career-high three hits.
Denard Span led the Twins with three hits and an RBI double that tied the game at 2 in the sixth.
But the Twins failed to score with the bases loaded on three occasions, and lost for the sixth time in their first eight games.
"The past few games, we haven't been getting hits, stringing them together," said left fielder Josh Willingham, who had two hits and has hit safely in all of the Twins first eight games. "We had people on base almost every inning, but couldn't get the big hit."
After scoring 16 runs and taking two games from the Angels, Minnesota's offensive struggles have returned.
The Twins left 15 runners on base and have scored two runs or fewer in all of their losses.
Darvish, making his second start, was removed after hitting Jamey Carroll with a pitch and walking Justin Morneau to load the bases with two outs in the sixth. He allowed two runs -- one earned -- on nine hits, striking out four and walking four.
Darvish did his best work when he was in trouble on Saturday. The Twins loaded the bases in the second and the fifth, but Darvish struck out Carroll in the second and Ryan Doumit in the fifth to escape.
"We failed in a lot of opportunities," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We have to figure out a way to get them in."
As if watching his team fail over and over again with runners on base wasn't hard enough, Gardenhire also had to accompany trainer Rick McWane to the mound to remove starter Nick Blackburn with one out in the sixth.
Blackburn was matching Darvish pitch for pitch, but left with shoulder stiffness and will have an MRI later on Saturday.
Minnesota is already down one starter after losing Scott Baker for the season with an elbow injury.
Brian Duensing (0-1) relieved Blackburn and got out of the sixth without allowing a run.
Jeff Gray relieved Duensing with runners on first and third in the seventh and allowed RBI singles to Beltre and Michael Young, making it 4-2.
The Rangers added two more runs off Glen Perkins in the ninth before Joe Nathan, the Twins career saves leader, pitched the bottom of the ninth.
Nathan trotted in from the center-field bullpen to polite applause from Twins fans who remained in the stadium.
After surrendering a single to Morneau and a double to Willingham, Nathan retired the next three batters to finish the game.
"Morneau, I'm sure, is going to let me know he got a hit off me for the next 12 months," Nathan said with a grin.
For the Twins' sake, more of those hits need to come earlier in the game and with runners on base.
NOTES: The Twins claimed OF Clete Thomas off waivers from the Detroit Tigers. He is expected to join the team before Sunday's series finale. ... Gardenhire said he plans to get Morneau some time at first base before the interleague series with Milwaukee on May 18-20. Morneau has been Minnesota's designated hitter since midway through spring training. ... The Twins unveiled a bronze statue outside Target Field of former first baseman Kent Hrbek before the game. ... Converted Rangers closer Neftali Feliz (1-0) makes his second career start on Sunday. Feliz mixed in a changeup with his trademark power pitches in his starting debut, tossing seven shutout innings in a 1-0 win over Seattle on April 10. ... Liam Hendriks returns from food poisoning to make his first start of the season for Minnesota. Hendriks was the Twins minor league pitcher of the year in 2011 and is 0-2 with a 6.17 ERA in four career big league starts.