The Minnesota Twins wrapped up a four-game homestand against the Cleveland Indians by winning the final three games of the series. The 3-1 result was enough to tie them for fourth place in the AL Central with the Indians, who have been in a tailspin since midsummer. And while it may only be a small victory in the scheme of the Twins’ second disappointing season in a row, one long term positive is the growing clarity about the things that are working for the team. Heck, after 2011, it’s nice to see that anything is working this season.
Starting pitching was mixed during the series. After Friday, Liam Hendriks is still looking for his first win, throwing only five innings, giving up four earned runs, and gaining a no-decision in the Twins’ loss. Esmerling Vasquez was pulled after only three innings on Sunday, also giving up four runs and forcing the bullpen to go the majority of the game to get the Twins the win. However, Cole De Vries and Samuel Deduno each threw well-pitched games, De Vries earning a win on Saturday with six shut-out innings and Deduno getting the win Monday night with seven innings pitched and without giving up a hit until the sixth inning. While it’s certainly early to give either of these pitchers a place in the 2013 rotation, they are on their way to gaining an extra look at Spring Training.
Another player making a case for a spot next year, this time in the starting lineup, is shortstop Pedro Florimon. He went 5-for-16 at the plate during the series and scored five runs. While his defense is still a little erratic (he had one error during the series), Florimon is also showing that he has the ability to make some game-changing plays up the middle, like this backhanded grab from Monday’s game.
Ryan Doumit hit a home run in the series, padding the Twins lead in the 8th inning on Monday with the solo bomb. That home run also sets a new carer high for Doumit and is another affirmation of the Twins’ decision to lock him in for the next two seasons. Justin Morneau is looking more and more like the Morneau that’s been missed during the last few injury-plagued seasons, hitting two home runs in Sunday’s game. The second was a walk-off solo shot in the 9th. The fear of concussion-like symptoms still remains, however, as Morneau was conscious of protecting himself during the team’s celebration when he arrived at home plate. He threw off his helmet before reaching the plate so that his teammates would remember to avoid any potential contact to his head in the celebration.
Morneau on celebrating walk-off HR: “All I was thinking about when I was coming down third was, ‘Don’t hit me in the head.’” #MNTwins
— Rhett Bollinger (@RhettBollinger) September 9, 2012
The Twins continue their homestand with three games against the Kansas City Royals. They have played well against the Royals this season, with a 10-5 record as they enter the three game series. With the Twins projecting Diamond, Walters, and Hendricks on the mound against the Royals, they continue their evaluation of the 2013 starting pitching options that they already have in house…and continue to consider who may not make the cut.