Rejoice and breathe a sigh of relief. The Twins won yesterday to stave off a homestand sweep.
Aside from that Sunday triumph over the Royals, it was a frustrating week for the Twins. They lost three close games and one blowout, with the only constant being weak pitching.
This week offers another chance for the Twins’ pitchers to remember how to retire hitters. Minnesota flies west to face the Angels and Mariners. In the process, the Twins will close out their second consecutive forgettable April. With one April game left, the best they can hope for is a 7-15 record. Coincidentally, 7-16 is where the Angels are right now. The M’s are hanging around the .500 mark at 11-12, but Safeco Field is a pitchers’ paradise, and games in Seattle are always low-scoring affairs. The game to watch will be Tuesday night, when Francisco Liriano returns from his hiatus. We should find out pretty quickly whether his skipped turn in the rotation was enough to cure his problems.
There will be one off day this week, on Thursday. Other than Sunday’s contest in Seattle, all of the Twins’ games this week will be night games, and they’re all on the West Coast, so if you want to watch them from the Central Time Zone, you’ll probably have to stay up a little late.
Josh Willingham. The left-fielder was about the only Twins player who had a positive week, mostly because his wife gave birth to a baby boy named Rogan Jaynes on Wednesday. But he hit well, too; in his first game back from paternity leave, Willingham smashed three hits and fell a homer short of the cycle. He has easily been the Twins best hitter not just for the week, but the entire month, with a line of .353/.457/.706.
Joe Mauer. Mauer continues to play, and he continues to hit. Saturday would have been a great day to finally rest Mauer, since it was a day game after a night game, but the rainout erased that. Mauer has still played every Twins game this season, and he is only getting better. Last week he hit .421/.500/.579 in 21 plate appearances.
Jason Marquis. Marquis made a quality start on Sunday. That’s actually a major accomplishment for this team, since it was just the fourth all season long.
The Starting Pitching (again). Prior to Marquis’s Sunday start, the starters had allowed a combined 21 runs in 19.2 innings last week for an ERA of 9.61. Those numbers include Marquis’s start on Monday, in which he actually pitched well through six innings before allowing two runs in the seventh. If the starting staff had been pitching better this year and easing pressure on the bullpen, Marquis likely would not have been sent out to pitch that inning; thus, it’s an example of how bad starting pitching turned a good outing into another bad one. It’s a vicious cycle.