Is the season over yet? The Twins sure played like it was last week. They won a game against the Indians to tie for fourth place, thus representing the season’s emotional high point so far. Then they got embarrassed in a pair of games against Kansas City before barely averting a sweep. Then they failed to avert anything against the White Sox. In the week’s last six games, the Twins were outscored 42-15.
By the way, these are the division opponents, who are ostensibly supposed to be the easiest competition the Twins face. They’ll get another try to win some division games this week. After Monday’s off day, the Twins take a short jaunt over to the Eastern Time Zone for games against the Indians and Tigers. The Indians will probably play down to the Twins’ level, but the Tigers actually have more than pride on the line, so that series might get ugly.
At this point TWIT (This Week in Twins, for you non-regular readers) isn’t even trying to be positive anymore. If you want positivity, TWIT recommends you not read the last couple columns. Actually, TWIT recommends you stop watching the Twins entirely.
Okay, there is one positive. Joe Mauer returned from a few days off to rake a homer and a double on Sunday. That put him within 9 points of the AL batting lead. Miguel Cabrera passed up Mike Trout for first place in that competition Sunday with a .330 mark. Mauer is at .321. The batting race could make the Tiger series more interesting if Mauer keeps it up.
Twins Goals for the Week Ahead:
Pass the Indians Again. The Twins pulled into a fourth place tie with the Indians last Monday, but it didn’t stick. Now they’ll have another series versus the Tribe, and one last chance to pretend they’re not worthy of the AL Central basement. Seize it, Twins! Win the series and salvage a little pride.
Win Number 63. The 2011 Twins won 63 games. This year’s version has 60 wins with 15 games to play. They could theoretically tie last year’s mark with a .500 week. If they’re feeling really ambitious, they could even pass up last year’s win total, but since we’ve all been watching how the Twins play, let’s not get our hopes up.
Get Willingham a Homer. Josh Willingham now has 34 home runs on the season. One more and he’ll own the highest single-season total by a Twin in 42 years.
Mauer. He was out most of the week with a minor injury, but the way the Twins have played, that just increases his stock. When he did play, Mauer went 4-7 with a homer and a double, and his outside shot at another batting title is almost the only highlight remaining for the 2012 Twins.
Denard Span. Let’s ignore his 0-4 Sunday and concentrate on his six hits in the first four games back from the DL. One of those hits was a walkoff double to give the Twins their only win over Kansas City on Thursday.
Trevor Plouffe. He was just 5-23 (.217), but he halted an ugly slump with a pair of homers.
Scott Diamond. He’s been the best pitcher on the staff all year, but Diamond earned a spot on the Weekly Worst list for the first time last week. He pitched twice and got mauled twice, for a total of 11.1 innings, 10 runs allowed, 17 hits, and two losses. With a 7.71 ERA for September so far, it’s clear that Diamond has overpitched his stamina for the season. Unfortunately, since words cannot describe how worthless the rest of the starting rotation is, the Twins will probably be forced to plant him on the mound a few more times.
P.J. Walters. Walters got blasted by the Royals on Wednesday, lasting just four innings and allowing six runs. At 13.50, he had the highest ERA of any Twins’ starter this week.
Luis Perdomo. Another guy with a NASA-level ERA, Perdomo’s was 12.00 for the week. That’s four earned runs allowed in three innings.