Minnesota Twins: Ups and Downs After One Week

Apr 8, 2016; Kansas City, MO, USA; Minnesota Twins first baseman Byung Ho Park (52) connects for a home run in the eighth inning against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 8, 2016; Kansas City, MO, USA; Minnesota Twins first baseman Byung Ho Park (52) connects for a home run in the eighth inning against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports /

Minnesota Twins Trends After One Week. (Hint, It’s Not in the Right Direction)

One week in and all is lost! Reading social media and comments about the Minnesota Twins, we might as well blow them up and start over, right? Well, starting off 0-5 is never good (worst start in Twins history), but there are a few good things the Twins are doing right.

Things could be worse, we could be Phillies fans. The Twins and Braves are oh-fer the season right now, but the Twins’ run differential (-13) isn’t last! Not good enough, you say? But wait, there’s more! 1974 Pittsburgh Pirates and the 1995 Cincinnati Reds each started 0-5 and made the playoffs, so I’m saying there’s a chance. Look at it this way, the Twins are only 3.5 games out of first place…one good week and we’re right where we want them to be.

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UP: Starting pitching. Twins had gotten back-to-back quality starts from Phil Hughes and Ervin Santana before Tommy Milone‘s short start last night. Milone was a victim of shoddy defense last night, and Santana also started the rain-interrupted season opener with 2 shutout innings before being lifted due to the long delay.

DOWN: Offense. Team-wide lack of hitting. Twins scored 2 runs in each of their losses in Baltimore before “erupting” for 3 against the Royals Friday night. They were leading 3-2 into the bottom of the eighth inning before…

DOWN: Kevin Jepsen allowed hits to the first two batters, including a triple to slow-footed Salvador Perez. though that was helped by the second ill-timed dive of the year, this time by left fielder Eddie Rosario, who ironically was just inserted for defensive purposes. Jepsen’s already been tagged with 2 losses on the season.

UP: Eduardo Escobar. The one Twin consistently hitting, and with some pop. Escobar is tied for the MLB lead with 4 doubles already, coming off consecutive 30+ doubles seasons in which he played 80% of Twins’ games.

DOWN: Hitting with runners in scoring position (RISP). Twins have had their chances, both against Baltimore and the Royals. They have walked 16 times, so while team’s batting average lingers just above .200, their OBP is a slightly less anemic .282. However, their RISP is .081 (3 for 37), stalling any possible rallies. RISP-y business, indeed.

DOWN: Strikeouts. Twins have struck out 58 times in just 5 games already, fanning in a major league-leading 35.8% of their at bats. Byron Buxton is tied for the MLB lead in strikeouts (10), despite a lower number of at bats hitting out of the nine hole. He’s struck out an astounding 66.6% of the time. Not surprisingly, manager Paul Molitor gave Byron the night off last night, but Buxton had to replace Santana late in the game, only to strike out in his only at bat.

WAY DOWN: Casey Fien. Fien struggled in Spring Training, but his body of work from 2015 gave him the benefit of the doubt. After 3 disastrous outings so far in regular season (16.88 ERA 3.35 WHIP), Fien may have lost the trust of the coaching staff. Wouldn’t be a surprise to see a fresh arm come up from AAA.

CAUSE FOR CONCERN: Danny Santana is the first injury casualty of the year. He had to tap out of last night’s game due to a strained hamstring, and the Twins placed him on the 15 day DL. Twins recalled…

UP?: German import, outfielder Max Kepler. Twins fans will get a good look at the young phenom over the next two weeks. He’ll be available today, though today’s lineup shuffle does not include him. Rosario gets bumped into the #2 spot, with Plouffe getting a day off (Eduardo Nunez at 3B), and Byung-ho Park getting the start at 1B and sliding up to the 5 hole.

Next: Minnesota Twins vs KC Royals Weekend Preview

HIGHLIGHT: So far, the highlight of this week was Park’s first career home run in Friday night’s eighth inning. The 417 foot blast to left field briefly gave the Twins a late-inning lead, and produced smiles throughout the dugout.

STRANGE, BUT TRUE STAT: According to Elias Sports Bureau, the triples by Kurt Suzuki and Sal Perez in Friday night’s 8th inning were the first by opposing catchers since 1936 to occur in the same inning!