The Twins went 3-3 last week, at this point in an long losing season, we have to consider a .500 week a victory. Minnesota started by losing a series against the White Sox, but they still kept things fun with a rollicking 18-9 victory last Tuesday. Then Cleveland came to town, Tom Kelly’s number got retired, and the Twins won two of their first three against the Indians, including a thrilling 8-7 walkoff win that nobody watched, thanks to the beginning of the Vikings season.
Looking forward, the local nine has a chance to win the Indians series tonight with Samuel Deduno on the mound, followed by three against the Royals and three more against the Sox. They’re all home games, they’re all division games, and they’re all this week, meaning that the Twins do not get a day off. The Indians and the Royals are both horrible teams, so the Twins have a good shot at another .500+ week.
Twins Goals for the Week Ahead:
1. Catch Those Pesky Indians Already! Minnesota has been nipping at Cleveland’s heels for over a month now, and they’ve had several chances to pull even with Cleveland, but they’ve fumbled every one. A win tonight will pull the Twins even with them, and if Minnesota has a better record than Cleveland this week, the Twins will finally march out of the AL Central’s basement.
2. Gain Ground on the Royals. Not only can the Twins catch Cleveland, they have a chance to pull closer to the third place Royals as well. Kansas City is currently four games better than Minnesota in the standings, so it would probably take a sweep of the Royal series for the Twins to have a shot at catching them this week. But hey, when there’s no way for the Twins to finish near .500 for the season, little victories like this one are something to hold on to.
3. Reconsider the Horrible Decision Not to Call Up Arcia. I wrote last week that it was just plain stupid for the Twins to snub Oswaldo Arcia. The good news is it’s not too late to rethink the decision. Do it, Twins.
1. Justin Morneau. If you have a two homer game that includes a walk-off shot, you make the Weekly Winner list almost automatically. Morneau clinched his spot on Sunday, when he launched his 18th and 19th homers of the year. Great to see a big game by Morneau.
2. Cole De Vries. Every game the Twins play this September is an audition by one of their inexperienced starting pitchers for the 2013 rotation. De Vries nailed his latest audition, tossing six innings and allowing a mere four hits against the Tribe. Since the rest of the rotation failed to keep pace this week, De Vries looks even better by comparison.
3. Tom Kelly. No Twin will ever wear number 10 again. We all enjoyed the chance to look back at Kelly’s managerial career (at least the successful parts). Congrats to the former Twins skipper.
1. Starting Pitchers Whose Names Don’t Begin with D. De Vries was great, Scott Diamond won a game, and Deduno pitched well in a loss. But the others were hideous. Liam Hendriks had a golden opportunity for his first career win until he coughed up a lead in the fifth inning. Esmerling Vasquez failed again to extend his AAA success to the Big Leagues. And P.J. Walters continued to give up an obscene amount of home runs.
2. Trevor Plouffe. If you’re starting to fear that Plouffe’s June was a mirage, you’re not alone. With a 4-18 performance last week, Plouffe’s average has dropped to .236. And he is displaying none of the power that was so omnipresent a few months ago, which indicates his hand may still be bothering him. Is it time for the Twins to shut Plouffe down and let him rest these last few weeks?
3. Anthony Swarzak. Two games, 4.1 innings pitched, six earned runs allowed, 12.47 ERA. Swarzak’s weak performance on Tuesday wasn’t much of a problem, since it was a blowout/mopup situation. But he blew a lead on Sunday in relief of Vasquez. Swarzak is auditioning for the 2013 pitching staff too, but it’s not a good sign that this week put his ERA over 5.00.