Thursday, July 26, 2007

Blame Canada

You have to rally to score runs. The Blue Jays did it yesterday, in an 11-run sixth inning where they collected seven hits (four for extra bases) and three walks against Carlos Silva and the Twins' bullpen. Meanwhile, the Twins offense could not put together one rally in the entire series. During the three games against the Jays, the Twins managed to get two hits in an inning only five times, and they never had more than two. They scored just five runs in the series, and four of them came in off the bat of Justin Morneau. With that being the case, it's no surprise that the Twins went down in a sweep that culminated yesterday with a 13-1 blowout loss in Toronto.

Of course, the pitching was awful yesterday, but the lineup continues to be the most gaping weakness on this team. The Twins' offense has gone from inconsistent to consistently terrible -- since the All-Star break, they have averaged 3.3 runs per game and have scored more than four runs just four times in 13 games. Despite starting their second-half schedule with a four-game sweep over the A's, the Twins have gone just 6-7 since the break and have watched their record for the season fall within a game of .500 at 51-50.

That the Twins scored just one run yesterday against a mediocre starting pitcher in Jesse Litsch is not overly surprising, considering that the starting lineup they trotted out included seven players with an OPS under .725. Jason Tyner and Mike Redmond, who belong at the bottom of the order, were the Twins' No. 2 and 3 hitters in yesterday's game. They went a combined 0-for-8, continually stranding Luis Castillo (who doubled twice and walked in the game), and keeping the amount of damage that Justin Morneau and Torii Hunter could do to a minimum.

The Twins did finally make a move to bolster their horrid offense yesterday, sending down outfielder Darnell McDonald and replacing him with third baseman Brian Buscher. Regular readers of this blog regularly are probably aware that I've been advocating a call-up of Buscher for some time now, so I am certainly supportive of this move. If Buscher replaces Punto as the regular third baseman and Rondell White can stay healthy in the No. 7 spot in the order, I suspect that the "Bottom of the Barrel" stats on our sidebar will start to gradually creep up.

I don't expect that the bottom of the Twins' lineup will become a force to be reckoned with from this point forward, but getting White back and adding Buscher should give them a boost back toward mediocrity, which would be a major upgrade. The Twins will need all the offensive help they can get right now, as they head to Cleveland tomorrow to take on the Indians, whom they trail by eight games in the Wild Card standings and are 0-5 against so far this season. A sweep might get the Twins back into contention mode; a series loss would almost certainly put them in "seller" mode at the trade deadline.

6 comments:

Ryan said...

Unfortunately I don't see this team competing for the Wild Card spot anymore. To get 90 wins we have to play .640 baseball the rest of the way - which would be great, and that's not even a guarantee of getting in. Cleveland merely needs to finish 31-30.

Not to mention that the Yankees and Mariners are also in front of us.

Nick N. said...

Yeah, it's not pretty at this point. I guess I'm not quite ready to close the book on them yet, but if they lose the series in Cleveland, you can count me as a believer that the season is over.

I will say that, with their pitching, if the Twins have a few hitters get hot and replace some of the dredge at the bottom of their lineup, I could see this team running off a sizable winning streak.

ubelmann said...

I will say that, with their pitching, if the Twins have a few hitters get hot and replace some of the dredge at the bottom of their lineup, I could see this team running off a sizable winning streak.

Right. To me, this is basically equivalent to saying "the Twins have a .500 team, and maybe we can get lucky and flip heads N times in a row," where N is some large number. The Twins have enough talent around to make a run possible, just not enough talent to make a run likely.

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