Apr 13, 2014. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
The Minnesota Twins have played 12 games so far this season and they still haven’t shown the fans what kind of team they truly are. They are 6-6, tied for second in the AL in runs scored, are last in the league in starters ERA, and in the last two series they have been the sweepees and the sweepers. This last point highlights the best that baseball can be a funny game. In their series against the Oakland Athletics, the Twins were swept by a combined score of 21-8, with their starting pitchers lasting a total of 15.2 innings (no one completed six innings). Then in the weekend series against the Kansas City Royals, the Twins did the sweeping by a combined score of 21-5, with their starters pitching a combined 21.1 innings (every pitcher notching a quality start).
It would be hard to even imagine such different teams showing up within a span of one week but that’s what the Twins did. The Twins looked overmatched against the A’s and then generally easily handled the Royals. You could argue between the difference in opponent or the starting pitchers but you would only be splitting hairs to find out why/how the team transformed over this last week. Avoid the headache and just accept the fact that baseball can be quirky, with great performances coming and going on day to day timelines.
As a team, the Minnesota Twins lead the AL in walks with 59 and are second in the league with 112 strikeouts (just one K behind the leading Chicago White Sox). Usually walking takes patience and good eyes at the plate, while strikeouts tend to pile up when those skills are absent. So you have to scratch your head and wonder how the Twins can be at the top of the American League in both categories at the same time. Can the Twins offense continue to be a walk team and a strikeout team? The 2014 Twins will likely be a strikeout heavy team but as long as they can continue to pile up walks, it will help to outset the K’s and give the offense some free base runners.
Yesterday’s game showed that anything can happen if your starting pitcher keeps the game close deep into the ballgame. Kevin Correia pitched seven scoreless innings, sat down on the bench facing a no-decision, came back out in the 8th with a two run lead, got pulled from the game in line with a win, went back to a no-decision after another run scored, got downgraded to a loss after another run scored and finally ended up with a no-decision after the offense scored two runs in the bottom of the eighth on three walks and an error to take back the lead. The Twins absolutely cannot expect seven scoreless innings pitched every day, but as long as they enter the late innings within a run or so, this offense might have a chance to pull something out.
The two different Twins teams that fans saw last week will eventually merge into one team that could be good, average or bad as the season settles in. But that doesn’t mean funny, fluky games and stats are going to go away. Just buckle in and watch as the Minnesota Twins try to rack up wins in whatever way they can.