Minnesota Twins Trends: Improved Play Starts With Starters
Like the old summer camp song said, “It only takes a spark, to get a fire going…” Maybe this week’s spark of life from the Twins’ starters and sluggers will spark into a full-fledged four-alarm fire by month’s end.
After a day off from getting it handed to them by the Baltimore Orioles, the Twins’ bats came out swinging, slugging four home runs, albeit in a 7-6 series-opening loss to the Cleveland Indians. The next two days, the Twins starters helped as the bottom of the order came through in back-to-back wins for the first time in over three weeks.
Because of a rain day on Monday (will be made up on July 28th) and Thursday’s off-day, the Twins just played 5 games this past week, going 2-3, finally breaking double digits in the win column, sitting at 10-26, 13 games behind the AL Central-leading White Sox, and only 7.5 games behind division favorite Kansas City.
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UP: Byung-ho Park. Hitting bottom at the end of the Orioles series, Park lifted his average 20 points during the Cleveland series, hitting 2 monstrous home runs (458′ & 411′), lifting his season total to nine on the year. That number breaks the old Twins’ record for the most home runs in a player’s first 30 games (Marty Cordova – 8).
DOWN: Losing streaks. Wednesday’s 9-2 loss ran their latest losing streak to 8 games, 1 shy of their season-high 9 game streak to open the season. Up for debate as to whether or not the rain-out saved them from being swept for a seventh time this year already. They were only swept 6 times all last season.
UP: Starting pitching. Two quality starts this week, plus Jose Berrios hung with Kevin Gausman Tuesday, each giving up three runs in their respective starts. Ervin Santana pitched seven sharp innings, giving up only one run, and Tyler Duffey did him one better, going seven shutout innings.
DOWN: Phil Hughes. Supposed to be the #2 starter at the beginning of the year, Hughes (1-6) is pitching his way out of the rotation. In his last three games started, the Twins have lost the games by a total run differential of 34-8. While he’s only given up 15 of those runs, his short starts (5, 2, 4 IP) during that stretch is not close to getting it done. His average velocity on his fastballs this year is only 90.3 mph.
UP: Juan Centeno. The journeyman catcher who had only 3 career minor league homers but lit up Spring Training for the Twins, validated his call-up by hitting a big home run in Saturday’s win. He already has twice as many hits (7 vs 3) as J.R. Murphy in less than half the at bats (15 vs 40). Known for his defense (lifetime 39% throw out rate), Centeno has shown some pop at the plate, and behind it to, already throwing behind runners at first, something noticeably lacking all year.
DOWN: Brian Dozier. An All-Star last year, Brian (.218/.307/.670) has slumped in May after looking to get it together near the end of last month. After a 3-run home run in a blow out loss to Houston, Dozier has been battling injuries and pop-ups. So far in May, he has just two extra base hits. His replacement in Sunday’s win, Jorge Polanco, hit a 7th-inning homer.
UP: Outlook. Twins face the Detroit Tigers this week. the Tigers are the one team scuffling even more than the Twins. Prior to Sunday’s win against Houston, Detroit had lost 11 of their last 12 games. Hey, the Twins even have the current longest winning streak in the division at two games!
STRANGE, BUT TRUE STAT OF THE WEEK: Juan Centeno’s home run came off Corey Kluber, the 2014 AL Cy Young Award Winner. He’s the third player this season to hit his first career home run off a former Cy Young-er, and the 9th Twin to do so in franchise history. The list includes former Rookie of the Year, John Castino, World Series hero Steve Lombardozzi, and fellow catcher Butch Wyengar.