Like Johan Santana the day before, Matt Garza tossed an absolute gem in Cleveland yesterday but was unable to collect a win because the Twins' offense could not support him. Garza pitched six innings, notching a career-high 11 strikeouts while allowing five hits and just one run. Sadly, the Twins were down 1-0 when Garza left the game, and it appeared that by the end of the day the right-hander might have held a 1.37 ERA and a 1-3 record.
Fortunately, the Twins offense once again managed to get the job done in the late innings and they came away with a 4-1 victory, taking the series against the Indians and moving within 6.5 games in the Wild Card standings.
With the non-waiver trading deadline approaching tomorrow afternoon, one must wonder what is going through Terry Ryan's head right now. The Twins have a lot of ground to make up in the standings, but they're not dead in the water. If they want to get back into the thick of this race, they're going to need to start stringing together some victories, and that will have to start with the eight-game homestand that opens tonight against the Royals. In order to get back on the winning track, there is little doubt that something is going to have to be done to improve the offense.
Despite the sweep over the Athletics and the series victories over the Angels and Indians, the Twins' offense has been mired in an awful slump ever since the All-Star break. They've averaged just 3.4 runs per game, and haven't scored more than four runs in a contest since July 21 (a stretch of seven games). Sure, they managed to win on Saturday and Sunday, but you can't expect to get pitching performances of that caliber on a regular basis.
A post-season run is not out of the question at this point, but it's still a real long-shot. With that in mind, any hitter the Twins make a move to acquire had better be someone that can help them beyond this year. They've already seemingly missed the boat on a couple guys who would fit this bill in Dmitri Young (who signed a two-year extension with the Nationals) and Ty Wigginton (who was traded to Houston), but there are plenty of other fish in the sea. One thing is for sure: tomorrow is going to be a rough day if Ryan once again stands pat and sends the message that he's satisfied with this team's current offense. With Santana, Garza and Scott Baker as their top three starters, the Twins have a chance (albeit remote) to climb back into the race within the next couple weeks, but as long as Nick Punto and Rondell White continue to start almost every day, I have a hard time believing they'll score enough runs to make that happen.