Minnesota Twins Trending Upwards After Sweep
Minnesota Twins Trends Has Needle Pointing Up, Up, and Gone!
After languishing near the bottom of every statistical category this season, the Minnesota Twins were about to face the defending champion Royals at home, and the always-tough Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field. In the end, it was Minnesota’s best week of the year, going 4-2, and ending the week on a four-game winning streak.
Even in the two losses to the Kansas City, the Twins showed signs of life at the plate. They collected 12 hits and four runs in a loss Monday, a game in which Ricky Nolasco only lasted 2.2 innings, giving up 6 runs.
But that game featured Eduardo Nunez at lead-off, with Joe Mauer no longer in that spot. While Nunez was slow to get things started from the #1 spot, Mauer’s production not in that slot paid off all week.
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Ervin Santana followed Nolasco’s poor start with his worst of the year (6 ER in 3.2 IP) as manager Paul Molitor sat the struggling Brian Dozier for a second straight game. Then came Wednesday’s game.
Fresh with a new batting order (Nunez at 1, Dozier at 2, Mauer at 3) and having new left fielder Robbie Grossman entrenched in the middle of the lineup, the Twins have reeled off four straight wins. Miguel Sano has homered in all four wins, Mauer homering in the final three.
In fact, the Twins have homered 11 times during the winning streak, and scored 33 runs this past week. Twins have raised their team batting average to .237, now ranking 23rd in MLB, and now tied with Cleveland for 16th in home runs (52).
Their offensive output has helped over-shadow the poor starts earlier in the week, and some shaky bullpen outings, most notably by Kevin Jepsen. The Twins still rank 28th in MLB (and last in the AL) with a team ERA of 4.98. However, despite his struggles, Jepsen did record 3 of his 6 saves on the season this past week.
UP: Miguel Sano. After starting the Month of May hitting .258, Sano’s average dipped to .219 prior to his four game tear. In May BS (Before Streak), Sano hit 4 HR and 8 RBI in 20 games. During the 4-game streak, Sano has hit 4 HR and had 7 RBI. He has tied Harmon Killebrew and Marty Cordova‘s record for consecutive games with a home run.
DOWN: Kevin Jepsen. Talk about misleading numbers. On the surface, Jepsen recorded three saves in consecutive appearances this week, doubling his season total. Nice, right? But those were hardly slam dunks saves. His slash for the week (4 IP, 4 ER, 2.25 WHIP, 9.00 ERA) tells a different story.
One that the Twins were able to survive his inefficiency with some luck (a crazy double play at end of Saturday’s win), and building a large enough lead (5-2 lead in 9th turned into 5-4 win after Jepsen surrendered 2-run homer). Do the Twins want to try Fernando Abad or Trevor May in the closer’s spot, or bring up J.T. Chargois and see if he can be the closer of the future? That will be the major story line for the Summer regarding the bullpen.
UP: Joe Mauer. He too, has 4 home runs this week, and is on a 3 game home run tear of his own. In Seattle, not normally a home run park, Mauer hit all three of his knocks to the opposite field, left and left-center. It was reminiscent of his 2009 MVP year when he hit so many of his career-high 28 homers to the left-center field power alley at the Metrodome. Joe had 11 hits in 25 at-bats this past week (.440 AVG), raising his average 26 points this week overall to .286, with his 4 HR’s and 7 RBI mirroring Sano.
DOWN: Ervin Santana. His terrible outing on Tuesday raised his ERA an entire run (3.13 to 4.17), and dropped his record to 1-3. It was, however, just the first time all year (and first since August 25th of 2015 against Tampa) that Santana has allowed more than 3 earned runs in a start. And he is going to Oakland this week, his favorite place to pitch (see series preview).
UP: Pat Dean. Looking like a professional major league pitcher, working the inside and outside halves of the plate, despite throwing in the low 90’s. Dean set the tone for the Seattle series, helping the Twins defeat Felix Hernandez for the first time since 2011, and collecting his first big league win. Since a shaky first appearance, Dean has allowed just 6 runs in his last 18.1 innings pitched.
DOWN: Brian Dozier. The Twins sat down last year’s All-Star for two games. They worked in the cages trying to get him to hit the outside pitches (almost all he sees now) to right field. Despite that, Dozier continued to pull everything in the Seattle series. Luckily for the Twins, the Mariners made a couple mistakes inside to Dozier, one which he hit for a home run (right after Nunez did the same), and another for an RBI double.
But too often, the Mariners’ pitchers served up breaking balls on the outer edge that Dozier turned over into ground balls to the left side into the defensive switch. Molitor plans on keeping Dozier in the number two spot in the lineup, between Nunez and Mauer, letting him work on the problem during in-game situations. Dozier’s slash line for 2016 (.204 AVG / .293 OBP / .628 OPS) are all well below his career averages.
Next: Twins Co-POTW: Sano Doubter, Mauer Power!
STRANGE, BUT TRUE, STAT OF THE WEEK: In the first game of the current win streak, Eduardo Nunez and Brian Dozier went back-to-back to lead off Wednesday’s game of KC’s Dillon Gee. That was just the fifth time in franchise history that the Twins had led off a game with consecutive home runs. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the last time was accomplished by Danny Santana and Brian Dozier on June 9th, 2014, twelve years after the previous time.