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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A season of futility for Ricky Nolasco was at least looking to end on a halfway decent note when the Minnesota Twins' prize offseason acquisition had put together three straight solid starts heading into the home stretch.
After things blew up on him again on Monday night against woeful Arizona, Nolasco admitted that there was nothing he could have done to save what has been a horrendous year for him.
Nolasco was knocked out of the game during Arizona's five-run fifth inning that propelled the Diamondbacks to a 6-2 victory over the Twins, who clinched last place in the AL Central with the defeat.
"There's nothing I can do that's going to make me OK for the offseason," said Nolasco, who signed a four-year, $49 million deal last winter. "It's been a terrible year. Just trying to finish healthy. That's all I can do. There's nothing I can do to fix it from here on out. Just go home, relax, prepare and come back looking to bounce back."
Nolasco (5-12) gave up five runs on nine hits with five strikeouts in 4 2-3 innings and the Twins (66-90) reached the 90-loss plateau for the fourth straight season.
Josh Collmenter (11-8) gave up two runs on five hits in 6 1-3 innings and Mark Trumbo hit a two-run homer in the game-deciding fifth inning for the Diamondbacks.
Nolasco allowed three earned runs in 20 innings over three September starts prior to Monday night, but still fell to 0-5 in eight outings since coming off the disabled list in August.
"He was doing all right up until that point," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said of Nolasco. "But he couldn't make a pitch, couldn't finish off a hitter and they just kept flipping 'em and then he flew into a big explosion, the big home run. And there you have it. Now you're down big. Not a good outing for him."
Collmenter (11-8) has allowed two runs or fewer in his last six starts, matching the longest streak of his career. He's 3-1 during that span.
"Great changeup," Gardenhire said. "Even the home plate umpire said his changeup's unbelievable. He's got funk. He hides the ball, comes from behind his head."
David Peralta was called out for batter's interference in the fifth when home plate umpire Gary Cederstrom said he stood in front of Suzuki as Pollock slid into second. Pollock stole second on Trumbo's subsequent at-bat — not that it mattered anyway with Trumbo's homer. "Suzuki took it right off the finger pretty good," Gardenhire said.
Diamondbacks DH Aaron Hill dislocated the tip of his right pinky finger sliding into home in the eighth and is day-to-day. Hill was icing the finger after the game and said it felt good. "My right hand went right in the hole there, it's kind of, 'why not, huh?'" he said with a laugh.
ON THE BRIGHT SIDE
The Twins named slugger Kennys Vargas the team's minor league player of the year and right-hander Jose Berrios as the team's minor league pitcher of the year on Monday. Vargas hit .281 with 17 homers and 63 RBIs in 93 games for Double-A New Britain before being called up to the majors, where he has been a force in the middle of the Twins lineup.
"For me it's an honor to get this award," said Vargas, who went 0 for 3 and was hit by a pitch. "I worked very hard for that. ... All that I learned about baseball comes from the minor leagues."
The 20-year-old Berrios went 9-3 with a 1.96 ERA in 16 starts for Class-A Ft. Myers before being promoted to New Britain.
Diamondbacks LHP Andrew Chafin (0-0) tries for his first win in his third-career start. Chafin has a 1.64 ERA in two starts. He'll face Twins RHP Kyle Gibson (12-11), who is 0-4 with a 7.59 ERA in four career interleague games.
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