Winning streaks apparently come in small doses for the Twins after the bats fell silent in a 3-2 loss to the Oakland A’s. Still, prior to Monday’s loss, the Twins had put together a rare four-game winning streak, including an even rarer three-game sweep of the previously AL West-leading Seattle Mariners. It was the Twins’ second sweep of the season after taking three games from the Angels in April.
Mariners rally for 2 off Kevin Jepsen, but he strikes out Dae-Ho Lee to preserve Twins' 5-4 win. Twins' first sweep in Safeco since 2007.
— Phil Miller (@MillerStrib) May 29, 2016
After the Twins prevented a sweep at the hands of the Kansas City Royals, the team headed to Seattle and played like the team we’ve expected all year: one with power and enough pitching and relief to improve on last season’s 83 wins.
As a team, the Twins slugged eight home runs against the Mariners, including three dingers from Miguel Sano who is beginning to live up to his promise as a true slugger in the making. Sano now has 11 homers on the season to take over the team lead from the suddenly struggling Byung Ho Park. In a rare display of power, the Twins also got home runs from Joe Mauer, better known for his consistency at the plate than the long ball.
Pitching, too, carried the day as the team got wins from rookie Pat Dean and Ricky Nolasco, plus the bullpen bailed out the team in Game 2 of the series. Relief pitcher Kevin Jepsen notched two saves in the series but not without some help from the defense which pulled off a rare double play to secure the Game 2 win.
As expected, starting pitcher Phil Hughes is headed to the bullpen to make way for the return of Kyle Gibson from the disabled list. Let’s see how long this lasts. Gibson might finally be healthy, but his inconsistent play and career .500 record as a starter could see them switch roles relatively soon. Hughes has a tendency to get stronger as a game progresses, which makes his role in the bullpen questionable.
Outfielder Byron Buxton has been recalled from Triple-A Rochester to spell center fielder Danny Santana who is headed to the disabled list. For those worried about the Twins’ defense, worry no more: Buxton, who hasn’t lived up to his billing at the plate, has certainly lived up to his billing as a defensive outfielder, showing incredible speed and arm strength during spring training and the early part of the season. If his struggles with the bat continue, I say manager Paul Molitor has him bunt every at bat because Buxton is fast enough to beat out throws to first base.