A timely home run from Justin Morneau and a strong outing from Livan Hernandez prevented the Twins from another upsetting loss at the hands of a soft-tossing lefty last night. This time it was John Lannan stymieing the Twins bats for most of his seven innings of work.
The Twins' struggles against left-handed starters are well-documented, and the fact that the Twins struggled against the southpaw Lannan last night is not as disappointing as the reason they struggled against him. Here's what the Twins seven right-handed hitters in the lineup (including the switch-hitting Alexi Casilla) did against Lannan last night: 2-for-21 (.095) with two singles, a walk and three strikeouts. The only hitters who managed to do anything of consequence against Lannan were the two left-handed batters in the lineup, Joe Mauer (who went 2-for-3 with a walk and a double) and Justin Morneau (whose mammoth blast to right in the sixth inning scored Mauer and put the Twins in front).
Regardless of your feelings about Delmon Young, Craig Monroe and Michael Cuddyer, one thing is certain: these are guys who should be putting up numbers against lefties. The team's struggles against southpaws last year were a big part of the reason the team spent so much in players and money to bring in Young and Monroe, but the two have both failed miserably at this key task thus far. Young has hit .246/.295/.386 against lefties, while Monroe -- who has historically mashed southpaws -- has posted a miserable .106/.176/.106 line against them. That's ZERO extra-base hits in 51 plate appearances against left-handers for a guy who was basically brought in with the specific task of hitting them. Cuddyer, meanwhile, has hit .250/.350/.327 against lefties and has yet to hit a home run off one.
The funny thing is that Mauer and Morneau have both been surprisingly effective against left-handed pitching this year, so this team could actually be a force against southpaws if they were getting reasonably decent production from any of their middle-of-the-lineup right-handed bats. They're not, and it is extremely frustrating. The Twins may have won last night's game, but it still serves as a perfect example of a significant issue that is plaguing this team.