Slow offensive day, short Louie Varland start doom Twins in loss

3 April 2024

MILWAUKEE — Byron Buxton reached out and got ahold of a pitch slightly outside the zone, taking it out to center. The ball, hit to center at 101.3 miles per hour off the bat, was tailing away from outfielder Sal Frelick, who eventually caught up to it and settled underneath it.

Innings later, in the eighth, he lined a ball to third that Oliver Dunn dove for and came down with, making a nice play to keep Buxton off the bases.

It was that kind of day for Buxton and the Twins’ offense — which hit some balls well, though not enough, and couldn’t get much to find grass — in their 3-2 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers on Tuesday afternoon at American Family Field.

“Just to be able to square some balls up, eventually they are going to start falling,” Buxton said. “It’s just one of those things where I don’t want to change anything. Everybody is getting in and working through some things. Just keep swinging the bat and eventually thing will start falling.”

Buxton did finish with one hit, one of just three on the day for the Twins, who collected just four in their last game on Sunday.

The Twins (2-2) had a couple of opportunities but were unable to fully capitalize on either, scoring both of their runs on sacrifice flies (Matt Wallner hit one in the fourth and Christian Vázquez another in the sixth).

“We needed to do more offensively,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “When we do hit the ball on the barrel, we want to get something out of it. Overall, I think we could have had better at-bats.”

Though the score was close, the Twins never led, falling behind in the second inning when starter Louie Varland ran into trouble and allowed four straight singles.

The fourth single, from Brewers rookie Jackson Chourio, brought home a run, but Varland then worked his way out of the inning, getting an out at home and striking out William Contreras to minimize the damage.

“There’s a lot of soft contact singles at one point. The odds are in my favor when those happen,” Varland said. “It just so happened they fell through.”

He got into trouble an inning later, leaving a fastball over the heart of the plate that Christian Yelich crushed. Two outs later, a hit batsman, walk and double produced the third run of the game for the Brewers (4-0).

Varland’s fourth inning was his best — at that point, he adjusted his plan, throwing fewer fastballs and more offspeed pitches — but the lengthy second and third innings spelled an early end to his day. It took him 89 pitches to get through four frames.

“I think he had to really grind through the performance today,” Baldelli said. “I don’t think he was at his sharpest today, but he gave us everything he had, and I think he’s going to be looking to give us a little more the next time out.”

And so will the offense.

“It’s more going and playing our game,” Buxton said. “Don’t try to go out there and try to do too much. It’s still early. Don’t panic. Things are going to start clicking. When they do, it’s kind of like that hold on (to the) ride.”

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