With a talented but erratic pitcher on the mound for the Royals yesterday, the Twins lineup did just about everything that could be asked of them. Everything, that is, except for deliver even one big hit.
With Luke Hochevar getting the nod for Kansas City, the Twins consistently took quality at-bats, forcing the young right-hander to throw 104 pitches (just 53 of them strikes) while issuing five walks and littering the bases with runners. The problem was that the Twins just couldn't come up with the big hits to drive those runners in. That problem persisted when Hochevar gave way to the weak Kansas City bullpen, as the Twins continued to turn in lengthy plate appearances and draw walks but still could not get the big hit that might have pulled them back into the game after Carl Pavano's ugly start.
A lack of timely hitting has sadly been a theme for these Twins thus far rather than an isolated issue in yesterday's loss. Their .367 team on-base percentage ranks third in the American League, and yet the Twins have failed to take advantage of their copious opportunities by hitting just .248 with runners in scoring position, including an ugly 3-for-19 mark with the bases loaded. They've also hit into 14 double plays, ranking them second behind the White Sox. That the Twins have managed to score more runs than any AL club other than the Yankees while posting a 9-4 record in spite of these problems is encouraging, but at some point the marquee hitters are going to have to step up and start delivering.
This lineup is packed with talent and there's no way these guys will keep coming up short so frequently in scoring opportunities throughout the season. I'm very confident in that. With that being said, it's tough to remain patient when seeing them leave so many runners on the bases day in and day out, particularly at home against pitchers like Hochevar and the Kansas City relief corps. The Twins have got to start better punishing opposing pitchers for their mistakes. Yesterday, they screwed up royally in that department.