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Bullpen woes cost Twins after rain delay in Cleveland

Minnesota's bullpen ERA ranks 10th in the American League.
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The Twins blew a 5-1 lead and lost for a second straight night to the Indians in Cleveland on Wednesday – and it took more than five hours before the game went final.

The nine innings took 3 hours, 26 minutes and they added on a rain delay in the seventh inning of 1 hour, 43 minutes. 

Minnesota jumped all over Cleveland with home runs from Byron Buxton, Nelson Cruz and Jorge Polanco, but the Indians chipped into the 5-1 deficit with two runs in the bottom of the third inning.

Polanco's homer made it 6-3 in the fifth, but Martin Perez couldn't all three outs in the bottom of the fifth as Cleveland scored two more runs to make it a 6-5 game. 

After the heavy rain moved through northern Ohio, the Twins got an RBI single from Polanco to take a 7-5 lead, but Minnesota's bullpen was rocked from there on. 

Blake Parker pitched the bottom of the seventh for the Twins. It went like this: 

  • Carlos Santana doubled off the wall in right-center. 
  • Jordan Luplow homered to right-center to tie the game, 7-7. 
  • Parker got Jose Ramirez and Jason Kipnis out. 
  • Robert Perez homered to right, 8-7 Indians lead. 
  • Jake Bauers flies out to left to end the inning. 

It was ugly, and Tyler Duffey served up a solo shot to Francisco Lindor in the eighth that gave Cleveland a 9-7 lead, which proved to be the final score. 

Parker didn't allow a run in 16 of 18 appearances to begin the season, but he's allowed multiple runs in three of his last four outings to see his ERA climb to 3.74. 

The bullpen woes came on a night where seven-time All-Star closer Craig Kimbrel reportedly signed with the Chicago Cubs. The right-hander would've been a nice addition to Minnesota's shaky bullpen, but now the Twins front office will have to look for upgrades elsewhere, likely through trades. 

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The Twins' bullpen has a combined 4.67 ERA – that ranks 10th in the American League – and their WHIP (walks and hits allowed per inning) is a bloated 1.41, which also ranks 10th in the AL. 

Minnesota is still 20 games over .500 (40-20), but the bullpen is a real concern. Fortunately, they still have plenty of time to fix it before the July 31 trade deadline. 

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