Monday, June 13, 2005

Missed Opportunties over the Weekend

In the past week, the Twins could have gone a long winning streak. That's because all the loses they have had have been by one run. Since May 31st, when the Twins lost 4-3 to Cleveland, every loss has been by one run. So, with that in mind, the Twins could have a 12-game winning streak right now and be right on the backs of Chicago. So what has caused all these defeats? Hitting difficulties and missed opportunities. The loss against the Yankees had plenty of examples, as did the loss against Arizona, but the two losses against the Dodgers this weekend have had it all. Pitchers giving up gopherballs and basically letting themselves get beat by the easiliy beatable Hee Seop Choi. J.C. Romero easily struck him out on inside fastballs in Saturday's victory, so why couldn't our other pitchers take this approach instead of giving him easy fastballs and weak breaking pitches to hit. But more so, were the problems with hitting. The Twins had perfect chances all weekend. Just look at last night:

* In the second, when the Twins did score two, they had a chance to score a lot more, with the bases loaded and no outs

* In the third, with Lew Ford on third and one out, the Twins' sluggers Justin Morneau and Torii Hunter failed to make contact, both weakly striking out and not showing the patience so key to their success

* In the fourth, with Mauer on third and Micheal Cuddyer on second and one out, once against both hitters failed to make any contact, those hitters being Juan Castro and Brad Radke

* In the sixth, with Jacque Jones on third and Mauer on second and one out against, the same two hitters came up and a similar result came: Castro struck out again and Radke popped out (at least he made contact)

* And in the seventh, with Ford on second and one out, Morneau and Hunter were due up again and the result? Morneau popped out to second and Hunter struck out

So basically, the Twins wasted opportunity after opportunity by mainly striking out. And those are simple situations were all the hitter has to be is make contact. Not even a hit, but just contact to the outfield or the right side of the infield. And worse of all, as I mentioned last night, this was against Houlton, a pitcher who has been incredibly hittable ever since he's been in the majors. Its not like in these games, the Twins were facing any Cy Young candidates. From Penny to Wang to Houlton to Vazquez, the Twins had plenty of chances. (To be fair, the loss Friday was to Eric Gagne and it was, after all, Mulholland who surrendered that ugly home-run)

I can't stress it enough, but its time the Twins focus in on those hitting basics and that comes down the hitting coach. These guys need to learn to be more selective and to make contact. We can't have them always striking out or grounding in to double-plays (Cuddyer) when our hitters come into no outs or one out, runners on situations. They need to do the things winning teams do: Drive in the runs whatever way possible and they need to start now, because this is a team with the talent to go to the playoffs. So come on, Ulger, earn your pay and get these guys together so we can watch our team due something in October.