Roll the presses because the Twins avoided their second nine-game losing streak of the season by beating the Cleveland Indians 6-3 on Saturday. The win snapped an eight-game losing streak.
The win, believe it or not, was only the team’s ninth of the season — that’s right, nine wins in their first 35 games. That’s how bad it has been for the Twins, but unlike Friday’s game, the team took a 2-1 lead in the fifth inning and held onto it. They even added to the score late in the game, which has been about as rare as the wins these days.
Padding the score likely brought some relief to the bullpen after the Twins’ 7-6 meltdown to the Tribe on Friday, although reliever Kevin Jepsen — a role I still don’t believe he is suited for — gave up a solo shot in the ninth on Saturday.
Despite the win on Saturday, Friday’s game continues to gnaw at me because manager Paul Molitor, I believe, didn’t do enough to preserve the lead and ensure a victory. Anyone can manage a blowout win — or a blowout loss, for that matter — but it takes a special kind of manager to make the right moves in one-run games, deep in the contest.
By my count, the Twins have lost eight, one-run games this season, which says to me, anyway, that the manager needs to be more decisive late in games. For example, pitcher Trevor May entered Friday’s game with a 5-4 lead. He gave up a single, the runner stole second base and then he issued a walk to the next batter.
If I’m managing, May’s night is done and I’m going to the bullpen for the next guy. And if he walks someone, he’s done and I’m calling for the next guy. Molitor needs to do the same. This might sound like playoff baseball, but I think Molitor needs to do more to ensure wins, build morale and find some momentum.
Put together two, three, maybe four wins and there’s a chance the team relaxes a bit and the winning starts to come a little easier and more often.
Bullpen pitcher J.R. Graham will be traded to the New York Yankees for a player to be named later or cash, the Twins announced. Graham made one appearance this season in the back end of a blowout loss to the Houston Astros. In one-plus innings he gave up three hits, two runs and exited the game with a 10.80 ERA.