CINCINNATI -- Charlie Barnes’ goals for the remainder of the season sound a lot like the Minnesota Twins’ goals for Charlie Barnes for the remainder of the season. Mainly, the rookie pitcher wants to continue to learn and get his feet wet while trying to show the club that he belongs.
The Twins, meanwhile, are on the search for young players to show them that they belong in their plans moving forward.
And showing that he belongs, Barnes knows, will mean executing better with two outs. In his second career start, Barnes ran into trouble closing the door on innings Wednesday, giving up five runs in those situations. The Twins’ late comeback attempt fell just short in a 6-5 loss to the Reds on Wednesday afternoon at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati.
Barnes found the most trouble during the third inning, and was unable to escape unscathed. With two outs, he lost Jesse Winker, walking the outfielder before allowing hits to the next three batters he faced — Kyle Farmer, Joey Votto and Tyler Stephenson. Four runs scored.
“I have to get us off the field in that third inning,” Barnes said. “If we get out of that third inning — going 1-2 to Winker and walking him there, that was kind of the tipping point in the inning — just knowing those things and really attacking and getting the left-on-left right there, it would be a different ballgame.”
Even so, even after Barnes gave up the four-spot and then one more run in the fourth, the Twins (45-63) still found a way to make the game interesting late against the Reds’ bullpen, one of the worst in the league. They strung together a rally in the eighth inning, beginning with a pair of walks to Jorge Polanco and Luis Arraez, who had three hits and reached base five times.
Back-to-back doubles from Miguel Sanó and Trevor Larnach, as well as a Ryan Jeffers single and another double from Max Kepler pulled the Twins within one, but the inning ended with a pair of runners in scoring position when Brent Rooker struck out looking. Before that, third baseman Josh Donaldson came in to pinch hit and was frustrated by a called third strike.
The Twins couldn’t capitalize on a ninth-inning opportunity, either, dropping themselves — and Barnes — to a matinee loss.
The Twins have not yet said whether Barnes will make a start in the rotation when the spot comes up again, though manager Rocco Baldelli has now said multiple times that Barnes “is definitely going to throw major-league innings for us as the year continues.”
After trading veteran starting pitchers José Berríos and J.A. Happ, the Twins are spending the rest of the season getting a look at young arms as players essentially audition for a role moving forward. Bailey Ober has been doing so for months. Griffin Jax is now getting an opportunity. And perhaps the soft-tossing Barnes could be next.
“Whether it’s up here — I hope I’m up here, obviously … just prove that I can stick,” Barnes said. “I believe that I can do it, and it’s just me going out there and doing it. Constantly learning, constantly getting better. That’s my goal for the rest of the season, just showing that I belong up here.”