The Twins lost to the Chicago White Sox 8-2 yesterday, getting swept and completing their in-division road trip with a 2-4 mark. Those results combined with the way they lost those 4 games make the Twins the embodiment of two nuggets of baseball wisdom.
We will not spend much time on the first one: it’s all about pitching. The Twins know that is their problem, as do their fans. In their losses on this trip, the pitching staff surrendered 7, 7, 8, and 11 runs. That will not work.
Here is another way to consider the Twins’ pitching problems this season. Out of curiosity I was browsing through the team leaders in the usual statistical categories last night. For pitchers this includes wins, strikeouts, saves, WHIP and ERA. Here is what I discovered under those final two tabs.
The team leader in ERA: Francisco Liriano with his staggering 5.31 ERA.
The team leader in WHIP: Francisco Liriano with his staggering 1.44 WHIP.
Number 2 in both of these categories? No additional qualifiers.
The instability of the starting rotation as we approach August is such that no other pitchers have logged enough innings to qualify for those basic categories. Additionally, Liriano was so bad earlier this year that they moved him to the bullpen…and he’s still the current leader in the clubhouse.
The other baseball axiom that applies to this year’s Twins has to do with the tedious length of the MLB season. The thinking goes that, in a typical three game series, there is a good chance each team will win one game. After that, the difference between the best teams in baseball and the worst teams is that third game; teams who win it are playoff teams and teams who lose it end up near last place.
Another thing to consider is that teams might drop more “3rd games” on the road but then make up for it with winning streaks at home. From this you get the notion that teams need to play .500 baseball on the road and then dominate at home. By doing that, they end up winning enough “3rd games” to matter. The Twins needed to salvage one game in Chicago to have a 3-3 road trip, and they simply could not do it. Additionally, they are 19-30 at home, so they are not making up those payoff games at home.
Baseball cliches can be annoying, but sometimes they are good explanations for what has happened. Such is the case with these Minnesota Twins.