September 5, 2016

Everything that’s right and wrong with the Minnesota Twins in one game

After 137 games, the Twins have a win-loss record of 51-86. And if you needed one game to understand how a team could go from a winning record and playoff contender in 2015 to the worst team in baseball the following season, Sunday’s 13-11 loss in 12 innings to the Chicago White Sox was it. The team’s strengths and weaknesses were on full display.

The good: The Twins can hit. They rank 7th in team hitting in the American League and it showed again on Sunday after they banged out 18 hits, including four more home runs. They got a grand slam from the suddenly red-hot Byron Buxton, plus home runs from Brian Dozier (who hit No. 35), Miguel Sano and John Ryan Murphy, of all people, which means there’s hope for Murph yet. They also got extra-base hits from Joe Mauer, Buxton, Dozier and Kurt Suzuki.

The bad: The Twins have the worst fielding in the AL, including three more errors on Sunday, to give them 105 on the season. Sano, who seems determined to make it at third base despite his questionable play in the field, committed two more errors to give him 17. Shortstop Jorge Polanco also goofed on a ball, his ninth.

The ugly: Twins pitching also ranks dead last in the AL with a team ERA of 5.13. Starting pitcher Andrew Albers gave them four-plus innings on Sunday, but was bailed out by the offensive production to exit the game with a 9-5 lead. He stepped aside for the bullpen, which gave up eight runs the rest of the way. Taylor Rogers gave up three runs, Brandon Kintzler two and Pat Dean two. Dean ultimately took the loss and fell to 1-6.

Extra innings…

-Brian Dozier’s 35th home run on Sunday ties the record for most home runs in a single season at Target Field. Josh Willingham hit 35 in 2012.

-In college football news, let’s hope Torii Hunter Jr., a wide receiver for Notre Dame, recovers quickly after he appeared to take a hit to the head that forced him to leave Sunday’s game against Texas.

Pitcher Jose Berrios, who struck out 14 in eight innings for Triple-A Rochester in his last start, is back with the Twins and gets the ball on Monday versus the Kansas City Royals.

Some other thoughts on the Twins-White Sox game on Sunday:

COMMENTS

Hi, I’m Rolf Boone and I love the Twins.

I became a fan of the Minnesota Twins after a friendly wager in the early 1980s. I survived Ron Davis, the meltdown in Cleveland, Phil Bradley at the Kingdome and then marveled at a rising generation of stars and two World Series wins in 1987 and 1991. Brad Radke made the 1990s bearable, while Kirby Puckett’s eye injury, exit from the game and eventual death made it almost too much to bear. The new century ushered in more talent — Joe Mauer, Johan Santana, Joe Nathan, Torii Hunter, Justin Morneau — and consecutive seasons of playoff baseball, followed by consecutive seasons of losing baseball. A winning season returned in 2015. So here we are. Go Twins.