September 8, 2022

Forget Twins/Yankees: It’s time to look at the remainder of the schedule

Despite three ugly losses to the New York Yankees (and probably a fourth on Thursday) the Twins, surprisingly, are still very much in the hunt for a division title in the incredibly weak American League Central. OK, yes, the division is lame, but it’s ours, and it’s still ours for the taking.

How can that be? Well, immediately after the series with the Yankees, which can’t end soon enough for my liking, the Twins come home to play three games against the Cleveland Guardians and three more versus the Kansas City Royals — six games total in which the Twins could make a serious upward move in the division.

After that they hit the road to play five at Cleveland and three more at Kansas City for a total of 14 games against the division leader and one of the weaker teams in the American League. The Twins are 31-22 against AL Central opponents this season.

But they definitely have to regroup and do it quickly after their time in the Bronx. The Twins were swept Wednesday, losing a doubleheader 5-4 in 12 innings and 7-1 in the nightcap.

The only bright spot, of course, was the major league debut of pitcher Louie Varland, who didn’t figure in the Game 1 decision, but he did strike out seven over five-plus innings. He struck out the Yanks’ Aaron Judge the first time around, then was quickly introduced to major league hitting when Judge teed off for his 55th homer of the season.

In the second game, the Twins scored first, the Yankees countered with a grand slam and then poured it on late, although it didn’t really matter. Yankees starter Gerrit Cole cruised, striking out 14 over six-plus innings. That’s what an ace pitcher can do for you. Do the Twins have an ace? No, they do not.

Sonny Gray gets the ball for Thursday’s finale.

Extra innings…

-The AL Central looked like this after Wednesday’s games: The Guardians and Twins lost, while the Chicago White Sox won, so the Twins and Sox are now tied for second place, two games behind the Guards.

-The Twins actually led the Yankees in both games: They were ahead 3-0 in Game 1 and lost 5-4 in 12, and were ahead 1-0 in Game 2 and lost 7-1. The Twins also outhit the Yankees 19-15 in both games, but were 4-for-20 with runners in scoring position and left 21 men on base.

-In the Game 1 loss, the Twins turned three double plays and committed four errors.

-In the 10th inning of Game 1, the Twins’ Gilberto Celestino tried to score from second base on a short single to right field and was thrown out easily at home plate. I was listening to the game and that’s when radio play-by-play man Cory Provus shared some base-running statistics with his audience, saying the Twins are the second-worst base-running team in the game, behind the Washington Nationals. I didn’t hear the specific number associated with that statistic, but I would like to learn more.

-Twins starter Joe Ryan took the loss in Game 2. He is now 10-8 on the season with a 4.05 ERA.

-And then there was this…

COMMENTS

Hi, Iā€™m Rolf Boone, Twins fan.

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.