Wednesday, July 04, 2007

One in Thirty

The Twins got shut out in the Bronx last night, losing 8-0. With last night's loss, the Twins have scored a total of one run in their last 30 innings, a testament to how pathetic their offense has been as of late. Considering that their only run in those innings was scored on an RBI groundout, the offense has been beyond anemic in that time. Yes, the Twins have run into the likes of Jeremy Bonderman, Roger Clemens, and Chien-Ming Wang, but both Clemens and Wang were coming off terrible starts (Wang had given up 10 runs in his previous 12 2/3 innings coming into last night's game) and Bonderman had a mediocre June (4.99 ERA, despite a 4-1 record) before the Twins welcomed him back to dominance on Sunday.

To put things in perspective, the Twins have managed 15 hits in 91 at-bats (a .165 average) in the last three games. In the two games against the Yankees, they have gone 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position. Last night, only Morneau had more than one hit, with Joe Mauer, Michael Cuddyer, and Torii Hunter all going hitless.

* Nick Punto probably embodies the struggling offense more than anyone. After going 0-for-3 last night, Punto managed to drop his average to .205 and now has a total of one hit in his last 24 at-bats. After posting a .150/.253/.213 line in 80 June at-bats, it might be time for Terry Ryan to seriously consider picking up a third baseman and putting Punto back to his rightful position of utility infielder. What Punto did in the second half of last year was memorable, but the results did not stick and reality has reemerged quickly.

* You may be expecting a anti-Jason Tyner rant to follow, but to be fair, despite his hardly-surprising 0-for-3 night last night, Tyner was actually decent in June, going .333/.381/.385 with two steals, doing far better than Punto or for that matter Luis Castillo. Of course, this is by no means an endorsement of Tyner, but rather, it's hard to complain about Tyner DHing when Punto, Castillo, and others have been so awful at the plate as of late.

* It should be mentioned that, although I'm by no means an expert on the subject (Howard is though), it certainly feels like calls and the strike zone have been largely in the Yankee's favor over the past two games. That isn't a viable excuse at all for what has happened, but it is an explanation for Hunter's actions towards home plate umpire Ron Kulpa in the eighth inning last night.

* Carlos Silva had been on a regular alternating cycle of one good start and one bad start for a while, but he stopped that when he had his second straight not-so-good start last night. Silva allowed six runs, five earned, in 5 1/3 innings to go with nine hits, one walk, and two strikeouts. The positives are that Silva's ground ball to fly ball ratio was still very good at 10-4 and if not for Juan Rincon's continued sloppy pitching in combination with Hunter and Jason Bartlett's poor defensive plays, Silva's start may have looked a lot better, even though he would have been saddled with another loss. Including last night's debacle, the Twins have scored one run or less in five of Silva's starts.

* Finally, in more positive news, Morneau has accepted an invitation to participate in the All-Star Game Home Run Derby on Monday. Twins players haven't often participated in the event, which can be easily attributed to the long 30-home run player drought. Other than Torii Hunter's participation in 2002, only Gary Gaetti (1989) and Tom Brunansky (1985, at the Dome) have participated in the event. In those three competitions, our group of Twins sluggers combined for a meager seven home runs. Let us hope that Morneau can easily surpass that number. And no, Morneau will not catch Abreu-itis from his participation.

* Very lastly, happy Fourth of July to everyone. Stay safe and enjoy Johan Santana's start and presumably the Twins' avoidance of a sweep in New York.