Minnesota: The Twins have been toying with their batting order, trying to jumpstart the season. Unfortunately, manager Paul Molitor made the switch to place Joe Mauer at the lead-off spot just as he was going through his first slump of the year. Mauer is 4 for his last 24, watching his average dip below .300 for the first time all year, before rebounding with two hits Wednesday to get it back over.
Sluggers Byung-ho Park and Miguel Sano are also in slumps, which doesn’t bode well when the starting rotation’s ERA during the seven game skid is near 9 (8.69). Look for Oswaldo Arcia to get a start against Trevor Bauer in Sunday’s finale. In just 10 career AB’s, he’s hit 4 home runs and has an insane line (.500 AVG, 2.20 OPS) against Bauer.
Both Nolasco and Santana struggled in their last starts. Meanwhile, Tyler Duffey pitched well, getting a quality start against the White Sox in last Sunday’s 3-1 loss.
Notes: General Manager Terry Ryan has deflected all questions regarding Molitor’s job security. Considering the work the staff did last year in making it to the final weekend before being eliminated, he should get a long leash, despite the team’s start. We’ll see if the same courtesy is extended to the hitting and pitching coaches if the slump continues.
Byron Buxton has been on a tear at AAA Rochester. In the past week and a half, he’s had 8 multi-hit games, raising his splits to (.316 AVG, 5 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 16 R) while striking out 18 times versus 7 walks. He’s been the spark plug at the top of the order the Minnesota Twins have envisioned. The clock is ticking on his return.