CLEVELAND (AP) — Twins manager Ron Gardenhire isn’t asking for much. He’d just like to put a full team on the field so his injury-riddled club has a fair chance.
“We’re looking for nine right now, nine people that can play,” he said after Thursday’s 9-4 loss to Cleveland.
Minnesota played short-handed for all four games of their series against the Indians. The Twins managed to pull out a 1-0 win in 10 innings Monday when Gardenhire used all of his available position players. The lack of options reached the alarming stage Thursday.
Minnesota played its fourth straight game without first baseman Joe Mauer, who could be headed to the disabled list because of back spasms. Outfielder Sam Fuld was placed on the seven-day DL with concussion-like symptoms, leaving infielder Pedro Florimon as Minnesota’s only bench player when the game began.
Mauer played catch and took some light swings off a batting tee Wednesday. He believes he can play by Friday or Saturday, but a decision about going on the DL would have to be by the end of the weekend.
Fuld was scratched from Thursday’s lineup with what Gardenhire called a “massive headache,” stemming from a crash into the center field wall during the team’s last homestand and a tumble he took while making a throw Wednesday.
Infielder Eduardo Nunez was called up from Triple-A Rochester to take Fuld’s place on the 25-man roster. The Red Wings were playing in Columbus, Ohio, so Nunez made the two-hour drive up to Cleveland during the game to join the team, but didn’t play.
The Twins made two more roster moves following the loss, optioning Florimon and Chris Herrmann to Triple-A Rochester, with corresponding moves coming on Friday.
“We have to have a little versatility here, where guys can go all over the place,” Gardenhire said. “This is going to get us that versatility we’re desperately needing right now.”
Shortstop Eduardo Escobar, forced to play the outfield for the second straight day, struggled again.
He misjudged a fly ball in left field in the ninth inning Wednesday night that led to Cleveland scoring the winning run.
Michael Brantley doubled with two outs in the first Thursday, advanced on a passed ball on ball four to Carlos Santana and David Murphy hit a line drive directly at Escobar.
Escobar froze, then broke back too late to make the catch as the ball landed on the warning track. Brantley scored, but Santana was out on a relay throw to the plate.
Escobar dropped Lonnie Chisenhall’s sinking line drive in the seventh, but avoided an error by throwing to second to force Ryan Raburn, who had held up to see whether the ball would be caught.
Kevin Correia (1-4) gave up four runs, eight hits and four walks in 4 1-3 innings.
“You get the ball up and over the plate, it’s going to fly and he did that and it hurt him a few times,” Gardenhire said.
Asdrubal Cabrera had four hits and three RBIs and Brantley also homered and drove in three runs.
“You play a month and a half of cold weather and the nice, first warm day, you know they’re coming out swinging,” Correia said. “I made a couple mistakes that they jumped on. I didn’t really get away with much.”
Justin Masterson (2-1) took a shutout into the sixth when the Twins scored twice, cutting the lead to 4-2.
Masterson let Danny Santana’s ground ball go through his legs. A walk to Brian Dozier and a wild pitch put runners at second and third with nobody out. Masterson retired the next two hitters before Chris Colabello drove in two runs with an infield single. Colabello hit a slow roller past the mound. Cabrera couldn’t make a barehand grab as he charged in from shortstop. Santana trotted home and Dozier scored from second.
After the Indians scored in the sixth, the Twins again got their first two runners aboard in the seventh. Josmil Pinto walked and Herrmann singled. Santana followed with a double, scoring Pinto. Escobar added an RBI groundout to cut it to 5-4.
Cleveland put the game away with three in the seventh and one in the eighth.
NOTES: To make room on the 40-man roster for RHP Matt Guerrier, Minnesota placed LHP Brooks Railey on waivers. He was claimed by the Angels. … The Twins will travel to Detroit as they wrap up their seven-game road trip. RHP Phil Hughes (3-1) will match up against RHP Justin Verlander (4-1) in the opener.
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