It’s not even Thursday as I write this and yet it has been a long week for the Minnesota Twins. The team has struggled of late, management changed course dramatically on Sunday and Monday, and the Twins showed up punchless on Tuesday and lost 3-0 to the lowly San Diego Padres. To make matters worse, Jose Berrios pitched a no-hitter through five innings in that game and still couldn’t win.
But the fog lifted a bit on Wednesday after Ervin Santana stepped up like the All-Star he is and pitched a complete-game, scattering four hits and striking out nine en route to his 12th win and a 5-2 victory. He exited with an ERA of 3.28.
The bad news is that the Twins are 3-7 in their last 10 games and are now three games under .500 and six games behind the AL Central-leading Cleveland Indians. They now go home for six games against the Texas Rangers and Milwaukee Brewers. Then it’s back on the road to play the Brewers and Detroit Tigers.
Adalberto Mejia gets the ball on Thursday.
-After Falvey & Co. traded away Jaime Garcia to the New York Yankees on Sunday, they did it again Monday by sending closer Brandon Kintzler, who was among the AL league leaders in saves with 28, to the Washington Nationals. In return, the Twins picked up left-handed pitching prospect Tyler Watson.
-There has been mixed reaction to the Kintzler deal, but I think Falvey & Co. made the right call. With the season slipping away, it makes sense to add to the franchise’s pitching depth, rather than give up too much talent for a short-term run at the playoffs. However, Falvey & Co. also need to tread very carefully. If the Twins hover around .500 the rest of the way, the season will be viewed as a success and will sustain fans going into 2018. But if this team should nosedive and begin to backtrack, the Garcia and Kintzler trades are going to become lightning rods for a lot of angst. Ticket sales still mean something in baseball. Just ask Jim Pohlad, the owner.
-Santana has done something this season that few pitchers do at all anymore: pitch complete games. Wednesday’s win was his fifth complete game of the season. The next closest in either league has two complete games.
-The Twins were shut out on Tuesday, but the offense came around on Wednesday. Miguel Sano hit his 25th home run of the season and pitcher Santana helped his own cause by driving in two runs.
-John Shipley of the Pioneer Press has an interesting piece on manager Paul Molitor, which suggests that with even less to work with now that Garcia and Kintzler are gone, it’s going to be even harder for Molitor to keep his job. Molitor is in the third and final year of his contract and it doesn’t appear there has even been a whisper about a contract extension.