As the frustration continues to mount, the Minnesota Twins move forward trying to keep what looked like a promising season from fading away.
In danger of falling below .500 for the first time in more than a month, the visiting Twins try to avoid a season-high sixth consecutive defeat Friday night against the Cleveland Indians.
Minnesota (54-54) led the AL wild-card race on July 17, but after losing 14 of the next 18, it's three games out of the second wild-card spot and looking to avoid its first losing record since sitting 11-12 on May 1. The Twins last lost six in a row to end the 2013 season.
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"I think right now it doesn't feel good at all," manager Paul Molitor told MLB's official website. "It's how you get there and we're going the wrong way. Coming out of Spring Training, and you hear .500 in August, you might've had some optimism there, but you just have to take a step back.
"I'm not feeling too good about it myself. And I don't think the players are. I think the frustration is continuing."
A lack of offense continues to plague Minnesota, which has batted .140 while scoring more than three runs once in the last seven contests. Trevor Plouffe delivered a two-run homer during Thursday's 9-3 loss at Toronto, but he's batting .182 in six games this month.
All-Star Brian Dozier is hitting .143 and has struck out 15 times in the last 10 games.
Teammate Mike Pelfrey (5-7, 3.65 ERA) went 0-2 with a 9.88 ERA in his final three starts before the All-Star break but has a 1.86 ERA despite going 0-1 in the three that followed. Though the right-hander is 0-5 in nine starts since beating Milwaukee on June 7, he's coming off perhaps his best effort of the season Sunday after he allowed four hits over eight scoreless innings of a 4-1, 11-inning loss to Seattle.
Minnesota has scored six runs for Pelfrey while losing his last four starts.
He's 1-0 with a 2.25 ERA in two starts this season against the Indians (49-58), who managed five runs in those outings and totaled 16 while batting .204 on a 3-4 trip through Oakland and Anaheim.
"I know that (hitting coaches Ty Van Burkleo and Matt Quatraro) and our guys are working as hard as possible to get on track," Cleveland general manager Chris Antonetti told MLB's official website. "We've just had a tough time doing it consistently."
The Indians return home, where they scored 14 runs during an eight-game skid that ended with a 12-1 rout of Kansas City on July 29.
All-Star second baseman Jason Kipnis remains Cleveland's most consistent hitter, leading the majors with a .376 home average after recording three straight three-hit games at Progressive Field.
Kipnis, however, is 2 for 16 against Pelfrey.
Cleveland's Cody Anderson (2-3, 3.38) went 2-1 with an 0.89 ERA in his first four career starts since debuting June 21, but is 0-2 with an 8.40 ERA in the last three. However, he made strides by giving up three earned runs in 6 2-3 innings of Saturday's 5-1 loss to Oakland.
''I needed to stay focused and locate instead of trying to rear back and throw,'' the right-hander said.