The Twins find themselves 1.5 games back in the standings after they were swept by the Los Angeles Dodgers this week, while the Cleveland Guardians swept the Detroit Tigers to move into first place with a 59-52 record.
The obvious reason for the improvement is that the Guards are 7-3 in their last 10 games, while the Twins — and I’m going to invoke some Stengelese here — seem like they have either been 4-6 or 5-5 in their last 10 games forever, if you follow me.
The not-so-obvious reason points to the Guards’ strength of bullpen. Cleveland is 19-12 in one-run games this season — the Twins are 16-16 — and the Guards’ Emmanuel Clase is a big part of that success with his 26 saves and 1.32 ERA.
Up next for the Twins, the Los Angeles Angels, a team that has completely short-circuited this season and fired Joe Maddon, a good manager, in the process. The Twins should sweep the Angels, and they should do the same when they come home to face the Kansas City Royals and Texas Rangers. If not, I think Rocco Baldelli’s job is very much on the line.
In fact, I think only a division title will save his job. Yes, Rocco has been dealt a terrible hand as far as injured players go, but something is still missing from this team. There was a spark to that 2019 club that just hasn’t carried over into 2020, 2021 and 2022. One more thing: Maddon, as far as I know, is currently unemployed.
-The Dodgers swept the season series from the Twins, outscoring them 33-10. The Twins showed a little more fight on Wednesday, but the current state of the lineup, a lineup that no longer features Alex Kirilloff, Trevor Larnach and Miguel Sano, has some big holes in it. Luis Arraez, Jorge Polanco and Jose Miranda are going to get their hits, and they did, but four players in the lineup — Nick Gordon, Gilberto Celestino, Jake Cave and Tim Beckham — went hitless.
-We can still be thankful that the 2022 Twins are not the 1982 Twins. On Aug. 11, 1982, Twins pitcher Terry Felton, who never won a game in his four seasons of major league baseball, fell to 0-11 after the Angels knocked off the Twins 6-3 at the Metrodome.
“Felton lost his 11th straight game this season,” the Minneapolis Star and Tribune reported. “Coupled with three straight losses in 1980, Felton’s 14 straight setbacks erased the mark of Cleveland’s Guy Morton in 1914 for start-of-career defeats.”
Twins manager Billy Gardner said he would give Felton a chance to “win one” in his next start against the Seattle Mariners. He didn’t. Felton pitched five scoreless innings, and then the Mariners erupted for seven runs in the sixth for a 10-2 win. Felton fell to 0-12 and 0-13 on Sept. 12.
“Felton, when the media came to him, merely shook his head from side to side, which probably said more than any words he might have come up with,” the Tribune reported after the 18-7 loss to the Royals. “He is 0-13, 0-16 career, a record nobody cares to touch.”
Sources: MLB.com, Baseball-Reference.com, Newspapers.com