The Twins were playing with the moxie of a championship boxer. After nearly being KO’ed in the first two months of the season, they rallied through Mid-June throwing jabs and haymakers at their opponents and winning 15 out of 18 games. Last Monday they threw a devastating upper-cut in the 1st inning against Madison Bumgarner, scoring 8 runs in the first and cruising to yet another victory, their 8th straight…and then the other side called a time-out. The Giants were shouting “where am I coach?” and while the trainers swabbed the wounds of the reigning world champions, the coach steadied the fighter with soothing words about Ryan Vogelsong and Tim Lincecum…and the tide turned. Suddenly the opponent was faster, stymieing the once potent Twins attack and taking the final two games of the series. Next up were the heavyweight Brewers who laid waste to the Twins in 3 straight games. Now the eyes are puffy again and while the Twins are now the ones calling the timeout, us fans are left wondering how long it will be until this team throws in the towel.
I’m not really sure why I went into a bunch of boxing metaphors there, but I suppose that’s how this season has felt so far. Just when you think things are looking up, something else happens. Justin Morneau is going to be out till at least August following neck surgery…Delmon Young‘s terrible defense finally inflicted personal cost on him as he sprains his ankle while awkwardly lunging at a deep fly ball…Jason Kubel has his rehab schedule delayed. Only a week ago I was sky-high on the Twins 8-game winning streak thinking to myself, “wow, this team can actually do it.” Now I feel like I did at the beginning of June. The deficit is not insurmountable, but with injuries continuing to take their toll and the Tigers looking stronger and stronger with every Justin Verlander start (his curveball was absolutely ridiculous on Saturday), my hope is fading.
I’m not entirely ready to throw in the towel, but I have it in my hand and I’m thinking about it. Even if the Twins are clearly out of the race come the All-Star break, I don’t think the Twins will make many moves. Delmon Young was a viable trade-piece, but with his injury, I doubt there will be much interest. The Twins might move Michael Cuddyer, but with the depth of talent in the outfield throughout the Majors, I wonder just how much interest there would be out there. Kevin Slowey is still on the DL as well which limits his tradeability, though he has a chance of getting healthy before the trade-deadline. Aside from those three guys, the Twins don’t have many other pieces to offer. They could try to trade someone like Matt Capps, but given his salary, what the Twins would get in return would be marginal at best and probably not worth the effort.
The Twins do have one thing going in their favor and that is the fact that 21 of their next 25 are at home. Immediately following the All-Star break, they have 12 straight games against AL Central opponents including 4 each against the AL Central-leading Tigers and Indians. All of those games are at home. Not all hope is lost, but our beloved team is on it’s knees, bleeding after a flurry of punches from the opponent. Bring out the smelling salts, they need a spark, something to get things back on track.