March 24, 2024

Twins fall to 8-17. Does it matter?

The Twins finally lost a see-saw game to the Boston Red Sox on Saturday.

They took an early lead, they gave up that lead, and then they pulled ahead, only to fall behind after serving up a grand slam. And then a Boston reliever, who couldn’t throw strikes to save his life, made things very interesting until Red Sox manager Alex Cora removed him in exchange for someone who could throw strikes. He got the final out and the Twins lost again, 8-6. They are now 8-17 during exhibition play.

All of which leads me to wonder: Does it matter that the Twins have not played well this spring? Most would say it is completely meaningless as it relates to the regular season. On the other hand, the Twins are on the verge of having their worst spring, by record, since at least 2006, according to MLB.com data.

A look at the numbers:

2023: Spring training record, 14-15; regular season record, 87-75.

2022: 9-10; 78-84.

2021: 11-15; 73-89.

2020: 7-9; 36-24.

2019: 14-13; 101-61.

2018: 14-14; 78-84.

2017: 16-13; 85-77.

2016: 19-11; 59-103.

2015: 13-16; 83-79.

2014: 70-92.

2013: 17-16; 66-96.

2012: 18-15; 66-96.

2011: 20-12; 63-99.

2010: 16-14; 94-68.

2009: 19-13; 87-76.

2008: 15-15; 88-75.

2007: 14-17; 79-83.

2006: 19-13; 96-66.

Although the Twins lost on Saturday, starter Chris Paddack turned in a final decent performance before the regular season begins next week. He allowed three runs on nine hits over four-plus innings with no walks and five strikeouts.

Extra innings…

-It’s prediction season for the American League Central, and although the Twins are defending division champs, MLB.com says the Detroit Tigers are the team to beat.

“They have all you want in a trendy pick, including young hitters who have turned the corner (three of them: Riley Greene, Spencer Torkelson and Kerry Carpenter), a young potential No. 1 starter (Tarik Skubal was so much better than anyone realizes last year), veteran rotation reinforcements (Jack Flaherty and, especially, Kenta Maeda) and, perhaps most importantly, the vibe of an organization that senses an opportunity to strike right now.”

The Twins also are missing a key pitcher, according to MLB.com.

“The Twins are the defending division champs — and the favorites over the field, according to FanGraphs — but they’re short a Sonny Gray and didn’t add much to a team that was hardly a juggernaut last year.”

Yahoo Sports, however, stands with the Twins.

“I’m quite confident in Minnesota’s ability to repeat as AL Central champs, and I’d take a pretty comfortable over on the projected win total of 84. Four-hundred games from Buxton, Correa and Lewis might be pushing it, but even a more conservative estimate of 300 among the three of them could do wonders for this offense, especially if Lewis continues to blossom into a legitimate star.”

Baseball America also picks the Twins and Sports Illustrated, such as it is, says the Twins are the heavy favorites to win the division.

“The Twins should stay in the driver’s seat with strong pitching and a mix of veteran and young talent. If Royce Lewis, Carlos Correa and — stop me if you’ve heard this before — Byron Buxton can remain healthy, the Twins should waltz into the division title once again.”

COMMENTS

Hi, I’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.