Minnesota Twins Ups and Downs Where .500 is An Up

Jun 12, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Twins third baseman Eduardo Nunez (9) steals second in the ninth inning against the Boston Red Sox at Target Field. The Twins won 7-4 in 10 innings. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 12, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Twins third baseman Eduardo Nunez (9) steals second in the ninth inning against the Boston Red Sox at Target Field. The Twins won 7-4 in 10 innings. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports /

Minnesota Twins Tread Water, Keep From Sinking to Bottom

Taking a look at a week as a whole, the Twins played well, going 3-3, and staying one game ahead of the Atlanta Braves in the overall standings. But after winning the first two against the Marlins, the Twins dropped three straight (last 2 to Boston Red Sox), getting outscored 33-8 in the process.

Their -18 run differential in a week where they played .500 ball, dropped them to -105 for the year, better than only Atlanta once again. They rank 29th in team ERA (5.17) and 25th in errors with 41. While they made strides this week to get their team batting average up to 19th, they still rank better than only the Mets while hitting with runners in scoring position.

The Twins ended the week as they began it, by getting a walk-off home run in extra innings for dramatic wins. Brian Dozier blasted a 2-run shot to win it for the Twins in the 11th inning Tuesday over the Marlins, while Max Kepler got the honors yesterday. His first career home run, a 3-run jack to center field, was his first ever walk-off home run of his life he said in the post-game interview.

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This week also was the start of a new bullpen hierarchy for the Twins. Manager Paul Molitor moved beleaguered closer out of that role and back to a setup position to lessen the stress, and hopefully improve his numbers.

Brandon Kintzler and Fernando Abad will situationally close for the near future. Kintzler got his first-ever save in Wednesday’s game, and pitched in the ninth Tuesday in a tie game that saw Buddy Boshers pick up his first-ever win.

Kintzler was moved to the 8th inning in Sunday’s game, but he struggled somewhat, and his defense failed behind him as the Red Sox scored 3 runs (2 unearned) to tie the game. Abad was credited with a blown save, though the tying run came home on a double-play grounder.

Statistics sometimes don’t tell the whole story. Abad’s yeoman work yesterday (2 IP, 0 R, 1 K, 1 BB) in the 8th and 9th innings setup Kepler’s heroics. As for the other three games…

DOWN: Trevor May. Ervin Santana had pitched well for the first 6 innings, as the Twins rallied in the 6th to tie the game at 2. In the 7th, Santana gave up 3 straight one-out hits, allowing 1 run, before turning the game over to May.

May uncorked a wild pitch (he’s second in MLB – only reliever in top 5) to allow one run to score. He then proceeded to allow 2 doubles and a single and his night ended with allowing 3 earned runs without recording an out. He ended the week by being placed on the disabled list for a stiff back.

UP: Joe Mauer. Don’t look now, but Twins’ fans favorite whipping boy, Mauer, is in the midst of his second, long consecutive games streak which he’s reached base – this time it has stretched to 24 games. He started the season by reaching safely in each of the first 28 games. Not to be outdone, Robbie Grossman has reached safely in 21 of his 22 games with Minnesota.

DOWN/UP: Brian Dozier. With Grossman’s ascension into the second or third spot in the batter order (swaps with Mauer, depending upon opposing starter), Dozier has been dropped due to his low on base percentage.

With the drop, has come a surge from Dozier batting in the 5 spot. Starting the week hitting .206, Dozier has gone 10-23 (with 3 RBI & 3 runs scored) to lift his batting average to its highest water mark all season at .230 (was also at .230 on 5/10).

DOWN: J.T. Chargois. While his time here was short (optioned back to Rochester after Sunday’s game), he did manage to make his MLB debut during Saturday’s blowout loss to the Red Sox. He struggled with his control (30 pitches to record 2 outs), walking 2 batters, hitting one, and allowing three sharp singles.

His velocity was as advertised, hitting 97-98 many times. He became reluctant to throw his fastball, though, after Boston started teeing off. Kintlzer had to relieve Chargois with two outs in the 9th inning of a 13-5 game.

Unfortunately for Chargois, he promptly gave up a single which allowed two inherited runners to score, leaving Chargois with an ignominious 67.50 ERA that will stay next to his name until he can work his way back to Minnesota.

UP: Eduardo Nunez. Already with 4 home runs in June, Nunez’s 9 for the season is 4 better than his career high with the Yankees back in 2011. He’s also solidified the top of the order for the Twins, scoring 10 runs in 11 games in June. He also collected 2 walks in Sunday’s game, his first multi-walk game of the season.

DOWN: Twins starters not named Dean. Ricky Nolasco, Tyler Duffey, and Kyle Gibson all pitched between 5.1-5.2 innings in their starts, all allowing 5 runs. Santana got one inning more, but also gave up 5 runs.

Putting the Twins in an early hole, and making the bullpen work 3+ innings every night is not a recipe for Twins wins. Allowing Molitor to somewhat set up his pen for 4, 5 games in a row would be nice to see what results we’d get. Maybe it’s this week.

Next: How Safe is Terry Ryan?

STRANGE, BUT TRUE STAT OF THE WEEK: The Yankees are coming to town this week, starting Thursday. They recently promoted Chris Parmelee (remember him?) and he hit 2 home runs in his first start Wednesday, becoming the second Yankee in history to accomplish that feat. The other? Some guy named Roger Maris. On Thursday, Parmelee suffered a Grade 2 strain of his hamstring and will miss at least a month.