The Twins arrived at Target Field on Tuesday 8-3 in their last 11 games there and winners of four consecutive series but dropped the opener to the Cubs.
Unable to summon the late-game magic on August’s final day, the Twins said goodbye to a winning and unexpected month with Tuesday’s 3-1 loss to the Chicago Cubs at Target Field.
Designated hitter Jorge Polanco produced three walk-off moments in the month all by himself, but the Twins scored a single run in the first inning and then couldn’t score again.
They did so against a Cubs team that was 11 games over .500 in June and now is 17 games below it after a trade-deadline fire sale.
Both teams now have won 58 games this season.
“We certainly could have scored more than a run,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “You play the game over, you have the chances. You just have to get it done when guys are on base. You either have to move them, score them, got to hit a ball somewhere.
“We could have done a better job at a few things tonight.”
The Twins went 1-8 at bat with runners in scoring position.
Most notable: The Twins loaded the bases in the eighth inning with one out and went scoreless when the inning ended with an unlikely double play in which Cubs second baseman Matt Duffy caught a Max Kepler fly ball to shallow right field with his back to the infield.
Duffy turned and fired home as second baseman Luis Arraez tagged from third and was thrown out with at least a step to spare.
The Cubs themselves scored a run in each of the first two innings and then not again until left-fielder Ian Happ’s solo, seismic home run into left field’s third deck in the eighth inning.
The inning before that, the Cubs loaded the bases with none out before Twins reliever Tyler Duffey came in and struck out the side.
“That’s about as difficult a spot to bring in a guy as you’re going to find,” Baldelli said. “Duff came in with some of his best stuff that we’ve seen from him. He came in and really pitched, kept us in the game.”
Twins starter John Gant retired 10 consecutive batters at one point, Chicago starter Zach Davies did nearly the same, with nine retired consecutively.
The Cubs scored a run in each of the first two innings, including designated hitter Frank Schwindel’s home run with one out in the first inning.
BOXSCORE: Cubs 3, Twins 1
Gant said he felt good and “pretty smooth” and didn’t think Schwindel’s solo homer was “a bad pitch at all” down in the zone with some action on it.
“The dude, it was just a good piece of hitting,” Gant said. “I thought I kept the team in a place to keep it close, which is the name of the game for the starter, in my opinion.
‘Gant pitched five innings in his third start and 10th appearance since the Twins acquired him from St. Louis at July’s end.
Happ’s blast in the eighth was the first run by either team since the second inning. It came right after Duffey struck out the Cubs’ side to keep the game close and just before the Twins’ greatest threat ended with a double play that ended the eighth inning.
The Cubs’ Duffy caught Max Kepler’s fly to shallow right field as he ran away from home plate. He caught, turned and throw as Polanco tagged and headed for home with slugger Miguel Sano on deck.
Baldelli deemed Polanco’s attempt “a little bit of frustration” over a night with so many opportunities missed.
“He was trying to make something happen for us on the play,” Baldelli said. “We never get a chance to do anything over, but it’s one that we’ll learn from. We have an opportunity to take the lead with one swing with a guy that can hit the ball out of the ballpark.
“I think if we could do it again, we’d do it differently. But it was an aggressive play.”
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