Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: The Minnesota Twins squandered an early lead after the offense went quiet and failed to support a great starting pitching performance.
Broken records have more variety than the Twins do this season.
As if building a losing season on a factory line, the Twins weren’t able to capitalize on a great start by Sonny Gray and fell to the Atlanta Braves 4-1 on Monday night. Joey Gallo scored the Twins only run when he homered in the second inning, at which point the Twins could have come up to the plate with a whiffle ball bat and given the same exact performance they otherwise did.
It’s not the first time the Twins have lost a game like this, but it’s starting to become a frustrating and troubling trend that is defining the season. A number of things have added up to get us to a point where the Twins are 40-40 halfway through the season, but the lack of offense seems to be the linchpin.
It’s gotten to the point where Twins manager Rocco Baldelli is at a loss for where to pin the blame, which makes matters feel even worse than they already are.
Twins fans aren’t going to like Rocco Baldelli‘s explanation for 4-1 loss to Braves
After the loss on Monday, Baldelli tried to explain what happened, and ended up defending the offense despite it’s woes. While he didn’t give a fiery or particularly strong defense of the slumping unit, he refrained from pinning all of the blame on the quiet night at the plate and instead tried to frame it as a spiritual victory.
“They just kind of beat us by a tick,” Baldelli said of the 4-1 loss to the Braves on Monday.
To be fair, two of those runs came on one swing by Ronald Acuna, but the bigger takeaway was how quiet the Twins bats were from the second inning on.
“We were a swing away from grabbing the lead or coming back and tying the game even,” Baldelli said. “[We were] right there in the ballgame, fighting the whole time. Truthfully we just got beat tonight and there’s not a ton of things I can point to besides the fact that they just beat us a little bit in a couple of different areas.”
It’s one thing to not want to throw the offense under the bus and totally demoralize the clubhouse, but it’s another thing to pretend there’s no bus at all. There has rather consistently been a specific thing to point to when looking for what is holding this Twins team back and causing losses like the one we saw on Monday, and it’s the utter lack of offensive production.
One of the greatest tricks the Twins have played on fans is showing that an offense could exist, but limiting the bursts to single games. Minnesota has scored five or more runs in 25 games this year and has posted a double-digit run total five times.
Yet, despite owning a run differential over 30 the Twins are barely clinging to a .500 record and seem unable to climb back over the hump. Minnesota outscoring the Chicago Cubs 27-4 across back-to-back games in May is doing a lot of the heavy lifting with that run differential stat. It seems to suggest that the offensive firepower we’ve seen in flashes is more of a mirage than something simmering under the surface waiting to explode.
What makes the loss to the Braves — and Rocco’s pseudo-defense of the offense — is that it’s a common thread strung throughout the season so far. Minnesota has lost more games that fans care to count that look identical to the one in Atlanta.
It’s formulaic: Twins get a great start from their pitcher, the offense has a bunch of hard hit balls but nothing gets through, then the bullpen blows the game open resulting in a loss.
Perhaps what’s most frustrating about Rocco’s comment is that he’s not entirely wrong; Minnesota has been living on the edge of the margins all season but have allen on the wrong side. The problem is there doesn’t seem to be an obvious solution which means the team might be stuck in limbo longer than it can afford to.