It’s amazing how quickly things can go from good to bad in the game of baseball.
On Monday, slugger Miguel Sano drilled a pitch into the night sky in the bottom of the ninth to beat the Atlanta Braves, 5-3. After a lackluster July, Monday’s win felt like the Twins had finally shaken off their slumber and were ready to win in August like they did in April and May.
And then the starting pitching — not the Twins bullpen — completely fell apart.
Jose Berrios had one of the worst starts of his career (nine earned runs), Martin Perez wasn’t much better and Kyle Gibson completed the trifecta of awfulness on Thursday by losing the most important game of the week: Game 1 of the Twins’ four-game home series against the Cleveland Indians.
The Twins had a four-game lead in the AL Central to start the week and now are hanging on by one game after Thursday’s 7-5 loss to the Tribe. If the Twins don’t get it together, they could be looking up at the Indians in the standings by Saturday.
Gibson didn’t come close to stopping the bleeding. He lasted all of four-plus innings and allowed six runs, five earned (Gibson committed the error) on four hits. Five runs on four hits? How is that possible? It’s possible because Gibson walked six batters.
The Twins rallied to close within one run of the Indians, but then reliever Trevor May served up a home run in the ninth and that was the game.
It doesn’t get any easier Friday. The Twins will face Tribe starter Shane Bieber, who is 11-4 with a 3.31 earned run average. The Twins will counter with rookie lefty, Devin Smeltzer. No pressure, Devin, but you pretty much have to win that game.
-More bad news: Slugger Nelson Cruz, who now leads the team with 32 home runs, is day-to-day with a left wrist injury — the same injury that sidelined him earlier in the season. The Twins really need him down the stretch.
-The Twins turned their second triple play of the season — Sano to Jonathan Schoop to C.J. Cron — in Wednesday’s loss to the Braves. That’s worth celebrating, but not when the Twins are playing this poorly.
-Max Kepler, who has completely owned pitcher Trevor Bauer, will not face him this series. Why? Bauer was traded to the Cincinnati Reds at the trade deadline.
-If the Twins lose Cruz to the injured list, maybe we can count on Luis Arraez? He doesn’t hit with much power, but he does hit. He had two hits, including a double, and drove in a run in Thursday’s loss. His profile is rising, too, because Tribe reliever, Brad Hand, intentionally walked him.