Bonser blasted by Rangers' bats

Bonser blasted by Rangers' bats

MINNEAPOLIS -- A bit of nostalgia engulfed the Metrodome on Saturday night as the Twins honored the 20th anniversary of the 1987 world championship team.

A nearly 45-minute salute was given to the club that earned the Twins' first World Series title. Trucks paraded around the warning track carrying the former players and coaching staff while cheers from the packed crowd made it feel more like a postseason celebration.

Unfortunately for the Twins, the club that took the field looked far from championship caliber.

The current Twins were shut out for a Major League-leading 12th time this season as they fell to the Rangers, 5-0.

It seems like everything offensive has been a struggle of late for the Twins, and Saturday night was no different. The offense tallied just eight hits on the night and went 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position. Talking about scoring opportunities yet again going wasted -- such as the fifth inning, when the club had runners on first and second with no outs -- has started to sound like a broken record.

"It's just one of those nights where it looked like we should have had opportunities to score," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "But we hit into too many double plays and it was a bad offensive night for us again. It doesn't bode well when you've played two games at home and you've scored two runs. That's not going to win you many baseball games."

Rangers starter Kameron Loe held the Twins to just three hits over five innings but also issued five walks in that span. Despite an inability to locate his pitches during certain at-bats, Loe (6-9) found a way to make pitches when it counted and kept the Twins hitters from settling into any sort of groove.

"His ball moves a lot, so it's kind of hard to sit on anything," Justin Morneau said. "It dives a lot. I wouldn't say he's effectively wild because when he's going good, he hits his spots. And tonight, you didn't see him missing across the zone too much. But we got shut out again, so it's a little frustrating."

The struggles weren't limited to the offense, as Boof Bonser gave up five runs over just 4 2/3 innings, extending his winless streak to 12 starts. It's the longest such single-season streak for a Twins pitcher since Al Williams went 12 starts without a victory from April 20-June 28, 1982.

Bonser's last win came on June 10 in a start against the Nationals, and since then, he's 0-8 with a 5.65 ERA.

"It's getting tough," Bonser said. "You'd like to definitely get a win every once in a while. Like I said, it's a crazy game."

The Rangers took their first lead by scoring two runs off Bonser in the fourth inning. Bonser gave up a leadoff walk to Michael Young, which was followed by Marlon Byrd's fifth home run of the season for a 2-0 Texas lead.

That lead would be extended in the fifth. Jarrod Saltalamacchia belted a solo homer off Bonser to lead off the inning. Two outs and two hits later, Byrd delivered an infield single to drive in two more runs. Byrd finished the day going 2-for-4 with four RBIs.

Bonser (5-10) then walked the next batter he faced before he was pulled. Having traded their long reliever, Ramon Ortiz, earlier in the week to Colorado, the Twins were left with having to try out the role on another pitcher.

Juan Rincon filled in the spot for the first time, pitching 3 1/3 scoreless innings while allowing just one walk and striking out two in the contest.

"Today I felt good," Rincon said. "I was surprised that I didn't run out of gas because of all the time I've been pitching one-third of an inning, two-thirds or one inning. Today I threw 3 1/3 and I felt good about it."

Despite the stretch of trouble Bonser has found over the past two months, his spot in the rotation appears to be secure. Gardenhire acknowledged that Saturday was not one of Bonser's better outings, but that he's been doing enough to warrant more chances to get out of this funk.

"I think you've seen enough good performances out of him where we haven't given him the opportunity to win a ballgame because of runs scored," Gardenhire said. "I think he's earned the chance to go back out there a few times."

The Twins know they don't have much time to fool around with losses, considering their deficit in the division grew to seven games with Saturday's defeat. But even though they weren't able to keep pace with the Indians on this night, the goal for the rest of the season is to win series, and the Twins still have a chance for one this time around.

"It's just one game," Torii Hunter said of the loss. "We've been playing good for three games. It's just one game. You're going to lose some in baseball. We've still got a chance to win the series and if we do that, we'll be fine."

Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.