The offense disappeared for the second straight night and Houston did just enough to edge the Twins 3-2 on Wednesday to advance to the American League Championship Series and make it an all-Texas affair, Astros versus Rangers.
What happened to these Twins the past two games? They reverted to their regular season form by striking out 28 times as a team and amassed a grand total of six hits.
The other Twins-like theme that reared its unfortunate head was not only the swing-and-miss variety of whiff but the strikeout called looking, which is how the game ended, the bat still on Max Kepler’s shoulder.
The Twins’ approach at the plate is going to have to change, and I expect the team will make a move at hitting coach. Offensively in 2023, it was a mixed bag, according to Baseball-Reference.com.
On the plus side of things, the Twins hit 233 home runs, the most in the American League. They were second in walks at 594 and fifth in runs scored with 778. But they hit .243 as a team (10th in the AL) and were dead last in the majors in strikeouts with 1,654, about 50 more than the next team on that list, the Seattle Mariners.
Seven players on the Twins had 100 or more strikeouts, the data show.
It’s clear the Twins were trying to earn free passes to first base before putting the ball in play. That has to change. As the numbers indicate, there were just too many moments when nothing happened at all except a short walk back to the dugout.
Extra innings …
-Where would the Twins be without their rookies? They certainly wouldn’t be in the playoffs without Royce Lewis and Eddie Julien. Both hit solo shots to score the Twins’ only runs.
-Twins manager Rocco Baldelli may have let Sonny Gray go four innings on Tuesday, but in true do-or-die fashion he had a quick hook on Wednesday. Starter Joe Ryan lasted all of two innings and was followed by five more hurlers, including Caleb Thielbar, who took the loss, and Chris Paddack who went two-plus innings with four strikeouts. Paddack saw limited action this season, but appears ready to post big results next season. Fingers crossed.
-Who really had the best postseason? Twins Territory. I listened to the Toronto and Houston series on the radio and the fans sounded amazing. Congrats to them.
Attendance for the four playoff games at Target Field:
-Game 4 vs. Houston: 40,977.
-Game 3 vs. Houston: 41,017.
-Game 2 vs. Toronto: 38,518.
-Game 1 vs. Toronto: 38,450.