The Twins' Standard Operating Procedure is starting to become very grating. For some, I'm sure, it makes the team awful difficult to watch. For over a week, the Twins have been walking a very fine line, as they failed to score any runs on a regular basis while getting wins on the coattails of great pitching performances. The Twins have scored more than three runs just once in the past week and naturally, that came against the Kansas City Royals and not the team's current playoff competitors.
Of course, anyone who watches the Twins (let alone reads this site) knows what this year's S.O.P. is for the Twins. It includes a good (or great) starting pitching performance combined with little or no offense against a very hittable pitcher. Last night, the Twins' starter was Carlos Silva, who went seven good innings, giving up six hits and two runs while walking one and striking out six. His hittable opponent on the mound was Paul Byrd, who came into the game with a 4.57 ERA and ended with a 4.13 ERA.
The best thing Byrd has going for him on the season is that he has given up as many home runs (16) as he has walks, producing a good 64/16 K/BB ratio and displaying excellent control. However, he has also allowed a .295 BAA, which includes last night's shutout of the Twins. At least the last time out the Twins managed a few runs and 10 hits off of Byrd instead of the absolutely pathetic four hits and one walk they managed last night.
The deeper reasoning for the struggles include having Jason Tyner -- who went 0-for-4 last night -- continue to bat leadoff, while putting rookie Alexi Casilla (who also went hitless) behind him in the second spot. Obviously, that was done last night because Nick Punto was playing shortstop for Jason Bartlett, but as many fans know, it would be a less embarrassing 1-2 "punch" if Joe Mauer was moved into the second spot when necessary, while moving Michael Cuddyer, Justin Morneau, and Torii Hunter up a spot. However, it's even worse that Morneau is stuck in a 1-for-22 slump after a great July while Hunter's struggles have carried over from July and Cuddyer has one hit in his last 10 at-bats. The best news the Twins have offensive-wise is that Jason Kubel is showing a better bat in his past few games, picking up his 18th double last night and going 5-for-14 with two walks in his last five games, but you have to wonder if he'll go into a multi-game slump now as has been his M.O. this season.
It's truly unfortunate that fans have to look harder to find positives outside of the continued good pitching of the Twins, which is continuously wasted by the lack of offense. It's good news that Kubel is doing better and that Joe Mauer's bat appears to be heating up, but it's far worse that the Twins have to rely on largely one half of their team to pick up victories.