Twins, without Morneau, lose heartbreaker in 9th to Texas

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Though no one of good standing in the baseball establishment would admit to it too much, the Twins missed Justin Morneau in a 2-1 loss to the Rangers Saturday night in Arlington.

They certainly missed his bat, as just the previous night he crushed a patented upper-decker to power the Twins over the Rangers in a similarly tight game. The home run put him at third all-time in Minnesota history - a great Twin for life, no doubt, as he graciously praised the man he passed, Tony Oliva.

Less than 24 hours later, he was a Pittsburgh Pirate.

For cryin' out loud, the kid sent out a touching letter to fans and the media by the time he had barely begun what will surely be a post-season run for him.

So there was no emotional rescue for Manager Ron Gardenhire when he looked down the dugout bench in the 2nd inning and didn't see Morneau or, for that matter, the concussion-riddled Joe Mauer.

No M&M Boys, just nothing left but Ryan's Pieces. For the first time, in what has been a long, sickening cycle, Gardy actually looked ashen and ill.

Having said that, this is a game wrap, and Brian Dozier did his best to salve everybody and led off the game with a home run, his 15th of the season, but perhaps the most important. Somebody took the wheel.

Texas countered in the next half of the 1st inning, when an Adrian Beltre sacrifice fly to right scored pinch-runner Adam Rosales with two out.

After that, it was a pitchers duel, of all things, between current Twin Mike Pelfrey and former Twin Matt Garza, each completing seven innings and leaving the game tied 1-1.

Then Caleb Thielbar loaded the bases in the bottom of the 9th, and Leonys Martin's RBI single off Brian Duensing lifted the AL West-leading Texas Rangers over the Minnesota Twins, 2-1, in the second test of a three-game series.

Former Twin Joe Nathan got the win, as if to encourage whatever ill will is haunting the Minnesota organization.

Well, the thing with baseball is, there's always tomorrow. Rubber match Sunday afternoon from Arlington.

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