D-backs done in by the big inning
Five-run fifth for Twins sends Arizona to its third straight loss
MINNEAPOLIS -- Chris Snyder is usually able to put things into perspective.
But after the D-backs catcher watched his team give up another big inning and fall, 5-3, to the Twins on Sunday afternoon at the Metrodome, he was at a loss.
"I can't call it right now," Snyder said. "I don't know what to tell you. It's frustrating. I wish I could give you a little bit more than that. Right now, I'm scratching my head."
That about sums up the D-backs these days. If they're not scratching their heads, they're pulling their hair out in frustration.
The three-game sweep at the hands of the Twins was particularly hard for the D-backs to digest, given that if not for one big inning each day by Minnesota, this series could have very easily swung the other way.
In Friday's opener, it was a six-run third inning. Saturday, it was a six-run seventh inning, and finally, a five-run fifth on Sunday.
"We had three bad innings in three games, and it cost us three games," Arizona manager Bob Melvin said.
It seemed the D-backs were on their way toward avoiding a sweep when they scored three runs in the fourth inning off former Arizona pitcher Livan Hernandez.
Giving ace Brandon Webb a 3-0 lead is usually a recipe for success, and the right-hander cruised through the first four innings as he allowed just three harmless singles and a walk.
The top of the fifth foreshadowed what was to come in the bottom half as the D-backs cost themselves a golden opportunity to tack on some runs. Stephen Drew and Augie Ojeda led off the frame with singles, but just when you thought they were going to break things open, Orlando Hudson missed a bunt and catcher Joe Mauer threw down to pick Drew off second.
"That's part of the little things that have really been costing us," said Melvin, who added that the D-backs' advance report warned players that Mauer likes to try to pick guys off in that situation.
Hudson proceeded to ground into an inning-ending double play.
Jason Kubel led off the bottom of the fifth with a single to left, and things got ugly in a hurry for Arizona when left fielder Conor Jackson lost Delmon Young's routine fly ball in the off-white roof of the Metrodome. The ball fell for a double to put runners at second and third.
"I saw it off the bat and that's about it," Jackson said. "I'm sure I'm not the first person to do it here, sure I won't be the last. It is what it is, I can't take it back. I felt comfortable out there. I told BoMel that I felt comfortable out there playing left."
Brian Buscher then hit a grounder to center to score two runs, and the Twins were off to the races. Alexi Casilla added a two-run single on another grounder up the middle, and Drew then couldn't field a Mauer grounder for an error.
"We made him work a little bit and got the hits when we needed them," Justin Morneau said of Webb, who fell to 11-5.
When it was all said and done, the Twins had sent eight batters to the plate and led, 5-3.
"It snowballed again in one inning," Melvin said. "Conor loses the ball in the roof, which I can't fault him. He played the position pretty well -- he just lost one ball in the roof. We just couldn't nail it down after that. It just got out of hand just like the previous couple of games."
"I threw all right in the first four innings," Webb said. "We scored three runs off them and gave me a lead, and then it seems like big innings have been a problem. If it's one or two, it's not that big of a deal, but if they get four or five runs in an inning, it's a bad inning."
It didn't help that the D-backs bats went silent after that, as they managed just two hits the rest of the way, with Jesse Crain relieving Hernandez in the eighth and Joe Nathan slamming the door in the ninth for his 19th save.
"You have to be able to add on when you get a lead like that," Melvin said. "You have to show some resolve and go back out there and get some good swings, and at the very least, get some good at-bats, and we didn't the rest of the game."
The D-backs, who head to Boston for a three-game series, are now 6-17 in their past 23 road games, and they've been swept in a three-game series three times during that stretch.
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.