The clarion call to take advantage of a largely weak July schedule has apparently gone unheeded after the Twins lost the game and the series to the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday.
Pitcher Sonny Gray had his first really bad start of the season, allowing six runs in the second inning, and the Twins offense once again disappeared to lose 6-2.
The Twins scored only two runs, despite getting nine hits, seven of them from the top of the order; “Donnie Barrels” Solano had three of those hits. But if the top of the order was setting the table, the bottom of the order went missing in action. Max Kepler, Ryan Jeffers, Kyle Farmer and Joey Gallo came up empty at the plate. Making matters worse, Gallo struck out three times. All of which means the Twins went 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position and left eight men on base.
The result is that the Twins are again a .500 team at 45-45 and are now trailing the Cleveland Guardians by a half-game in the AL Central. Beware the Guardians. Last season they ended July with a 52-49 mark and then went on an absolute tear, finishing their second half at 40-21 and 92-70 overall to win the division, according to Baseball-Reference.com.
Joe Ryan gets the ball Sunday against old friend Kyle Gibson.
Extra innings …
-It’s about that time in the season where the Twins are going to have to decide whether they want to make moves to strengthen the team or trade parts of it to build for the future. I’m undecided on the steps they should take, but here are a couple of moves I think they have to make.
- Move on from Gallo: He is tied for the team lead in home runs at 15, but is otherwise hitting .189 on the season and .154 in the past week. He also has struck out 94 times in 196 at bats, which is just under 50 percent of the time.
- Move on from Kepler: Kepler has spent nine seasons with the Twins, but still hasn’t been able to find the form that made him such a dangerous hitter in 2019. He has shown improvement of late, but is still struggling to get on base with an on-base percentage of .284. With left-handed hitters Trevor Larnach and Matt Wallner still hitting well at Triple-A St. Paul, I don’t see how the Twins can be patient much longer.
-Reliever Jorge Lopez, who landed on the injured list for mental health reasons, worked the ninth inning for the Twins on Saturday and made a scoreless appearance, tossing 13 pitches, 10 of them for strikes.
-And then there was this:
Orioles 6, #MNTwins 2.
The record: 45-45
Twins are back down to .500 with another unproductive showing from the offense, which has still been held to 2 or fewer runs in 4 of 8 games since the players-only meeting in Atlanta.
— Do-Hyoung Park (@dohyoungpark) July 8, 2023