MLB: Twins' hopes melting away despite win
MINNEAPOLIS - Exiting the All-Star break, Minnesota Twins players were saying all the right things about wanting to compete for a playoff spot for the first time since 2010.
They had signed veteran slugger Kendrys Morales in June, a sign that management believed a run was possible.
Minnesota was only 6 1/2 games out of the wild card at the break and opened the second half with a 10-game homestand against teams that were all at .500 or worse. Players believed the homestand had a chance to be season-defining.
It was, but not in the way the Twins had hoped.
Minnesota opened it by getting swept in a three-game series against Tampa Bay, a team close to the Twins in the standings when the series began.
Two wins against Cleveland had a chance to turn it around, but things went downhill quickly over the weekend against Chicago as the White Sox took the first three games of a four-game set in convincing fashion -- not allowing even a Twins lead until a 1-0 advantage on Sunday.
"We wanted this homestand, but we sure haven't handled it very well," said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire. "We talked about how this was a good chance to do some things. We haven't played well at home and that's disappointing."
A 4-3 win Sunday against the Sox salvaged a bit of pride for a team that began the homestand as hopeful contenders. But it was too little, too late, as the Twins traded Morales to the Seattle Mariners earlier in the week and have a number of other veterans potentially on their way out ahead of Thursday's non-waiver trade deadline.
"They come to play," Gardenhire said. "It's just been frustrating because we haven't been scoring runs and we've been getting behind early. A very disappointing homestand, but to get the win today was huge. A lot of smiles out there and a lot of relief."