Originally posted on Fox Sports North  |  Last updated 4/28/12
MINNEAPOLIS Like they did last season, the losses continue to pile up for the Minnesota Twins. Friday's 7-6 loss to the Kansas City Royals dropped the Twins to 5-15 on the season, which puts them alone in last place in the American League Central and dead last in the major leagues. But unlike the 2011 season, when Minnesota lost 99 games, the Twins insist that this year is different. Despite the slow start and the current six-game losing streak they say the feeling is not the same as it was a year ago. "We have a pretty good team here. I think we all know that," said outfielder Trevor Plouffe, who homered in Friday's loss. "We're battling. We keep saying we're right there. We've been in all these games. It's tough. We want to win games. "We work hard. I can go out there on a limb and say we work harder than any other team in the big leagues. We're just going to continue to trust that and things will start falling our way."Following Friday's loss, in which Minnesota's bullpen allowed two runs in a tie game in the top of the eighth, the Twins are now 4-5 in one-run games this season. Friday also marked the Twins' second straight 7-6 loss, as they fell by the same score Wednesday against Boston.It's been a similar pattern in many of Minnesota's close losses: the starting rotation puts the team behind early, and the offense rallies but falls one or two big hits short of tying the game or taking the lead. Such was the case again Friday, as the Twins left the tying run on third with two outs in the eighth. "Guys are into the ballgames," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "It's just unfortunate we can't find a way to win them. Same story it seems too many times right now."What will it take to get the Twins over that hump and out of a rut? To be sure, they've been close in most ballgames. Aside from an 11-2 loss to Boston, an 8-2 loss to the Orioles and an 8-3 loss at New York, the rest of the games have been decided by four or fewer runs. Nine have been one-run games, while two more were two-run games.The feeling of being on the cusp of a turnaround didn't seem evident amid the late-season doldrums of last year's 99-loss team. This year's crop, however, continues to say after each loss that they're one big hit from a win, and one or two wins from getting on a roll."Just one game at a time for us right now, that's how we have to take it. You start getting ahead of yourself and it's not good," Plouffe said. "We're not happy. Make not mistake about it, this is not where we want to be. But you can't dwell on it. You've got to just keep going at it and go try to win the next game."When the Twins have fallen behind early in games, they haven't been out of it. Friday was another example of Minnesota's ability to put together rallies and come from behind to at least make it a close game. But close enough doesn't count in baseball, and the string of close losses seems to be weighing on the Twins,But Gardenhire said it's by no means due to a lack of effort."These guys are big league baseball players. If they lay down, they don't deserve to be here," Gardenhire said. "I don't think we're going to have anybody lay down out there. I think they're getting after it pretty hard and they're rooting for each other pretty hard. "Is it frustrating? Is it getting hard? Absolutely. We want to win a game. You need to shake hands. We need to do that quite a bit. There's still a long ways in the season to go. There's a lot of character out there in that clubhouse. Right now, we need something to lift us up, and that's a big hit to win a ballgame."Follow Tyler Mason on Twitter.
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