Over the course of the last two plus weeks dating to June 10th, the Minnesota Twins have won three games in a row, then lost five in a row, then won four in a row and now have lost four in a row. This rubber banding back and forth between exciting victories and too little too late losses is really hard to watch. In three games the Twins will play their 81st game, halfway through the season, and there seems to be no telling whether Twins fans can look at that point as a glass have empty or glass half full situation. If these prior few weeks are any indication, we are still left to wonder what kind of team the 2014 Twins are.
The Twins are currently 36-42 and sit 8.0 games back in the AL Central. Just by looking at that record there isn’t really a reason to be super optimistic about the rest of the season. In fact the Twins are closer to last place in the AL than they are to a Wild Card slot. But for all of the things that are going against them; giving up early leads, inability to string together hits, wasting quality starts, the team has shown such great life during their mini win streaks. Apparently wins come in bunches for the Twins so hopefully it only takes one to get them turned back around.
Luckily for the Twins, Phil Hughes is pitching today and if there is anyone who is pitching like a slump buster it’s Hughes. The Twins are 11-4 in games that he has started and he currently sports a 3.40 ERA (a figure that drops to 2.69 if you drop his first three clunker starts). He has been extremely stingy giving up free passes and the last time he gave up a walk (like he did in his last start) he went the next three starts without walking anyone. If that trend continues Rangers hitters shouldn’t expect any ball fours. Having an ace on the staff prevents losing streaks from dragging out too long and the Twins really need to pull out of this funk to avoid a true downward spiral.
Another encouraging sign is the hitting streak of Joe Mauer which has now grown to 8 games. Over that span he is hitting .406/.441/.563, something both Mauer and the Twins desperately need to help salvage their seasons. Joe has had some big hits late in games during this span too; in an ideal world proving he isn’t an easy out and making opposing managers scramble their bullpen to matchup against him. If Mauer can find some career-like consistency it will help smooth out the peak and valley hot and cold streaks that the rest of the Twins hitters are facing.
The entire Minnesota Twins squad needs to find some sort of consistency. During the series against Boston the starters did everything they could to win and the offense couldn’t pick them up and for the most part the last chunk of losses have had enough offense but not good enough pitching. There is ample talent on the roster to win games but the team can’t keep hurting itself by having only one side of the ball show up to the park each day. There is room for hope but the fragmented pieces of strong offense, pitching and defense need to all fit together at the same time.