I go away for a week on the heels of a nice little rebound series against the Angels (the Twins had won the first two games when I hit the road for a cabin in Vermont), and the next time I had an opportunity to look they’d dropped five straight.
That was bad news.
On my way back they turned around and won the last two games of the Cleveland series.
That was good news, and when I finally got a chance to investigate further I discovered that while the Twins were going 8-8 in the first two-and-a-half weeks out of the break, Detroit was going 8-10 and losing four in a row, while Cleveland was 8-9 and losing three-of-four to Boston and two-of-three to the Twins. Which meant that as I was getting settled back in at my sweltering apartment in south Minneapolis, Minnesota was seven games back in the Central, having finally, almost miraculously, managed to pick up two games in the standings in two days.
That was more good news, no?
And now the Royals –against whom the Twins have thirteen remaining games– are coming to town for four games. That would have been good news a couple months ago, but at the moment it could go either way. The Royals are vastly improved, and have now won four straight and nine-of-sixteen since the break. They’re also 3-2 against the Twins thus far.
The rest of the way the Twins will face division opponents 35 times (besides the aforementioned thirteen against KC, they have ten games vs. Cleveland, and six against both Detroit and Chicago). They’re 16-21 against Central clubs to this point, so obviously they’re going to have to perform a whole lot better.
More bad news: the Twins have averaged just 3.38 runs a game since the break. Despite being respectable (and in many instances more than respectable) the starting pitchers are 4-7 during that same stretch –Matt Garza, for instance, has a 1.96 ERA in three starts, but has an 0-2 record to show for it.
And that also is bad news, because with the exception of Justin Morneau, Luis Castillo, and (egad!) Jason Tyner, the Twins offense has been brutal. Torii Hunter is hitting just .224 in the second half, and even Joe Mauer is struggling to the point where it might be time to start talking about a sophomore slump.
I’ve been out of commission for a week, so I haven’t yet caught up on any of the local scuttlebutt, but I can’t conceive of anything short of a blockbuster trade that would either raise my blood pressure or significantly improve the Twins’ chances the rest of the way.