Twins midseason: Minnesota trying to avoid 90 losses
Four straight seasons of 90-plus losses by the Minnesota Twins ushered in a new manager in Hall of Famer Paul Molitor following 2014. In his first season, he kept the Twins in contention for a wild-card spot until the last weekend of the season w...
Four straight seasons of 90-plus losses by the Minnesota Twins ushered in a new manager in Hall of Famer Paul Molitor following 2014. In his first season, he kept the Twins in contention for a wild-card spot until the last weekend of the season while winning 83 games.
The question heading into this season: Could the Twins repeat this or was last year a fluke?
The belief was the Twins had some of the younger pieces in place to contend and general manager Terry Ryan felt he had a playoff-caliber team.
Then came the first nine games of the season. All of those were losses, eight were by three runs or fewer and the Twins scored 14 runs and batted .201 in a stretch that may have ruined their season.
The Twins never recovered and the only thing left for them to accomplish is playing better in the second half and spoil some things for contenders.
Minnesota has begun to improve in recent weeks. Starting with a 7-4 win over the Yankees on June 18, the Twins have won 12 their last 21 games and have scored 140 runs and batted .287 in this stretch.
"I think that results -- we always talk about trusting the process -- but when you get good results and win games, you understand how enjoyable it is to go out there and compete and come out and win games," Molitor said. "I'd like to think that these guys are hungry to win as many games going forward."
Minnesota has the worst record in the American League at 32-56, and to avoid a fifth season since 2010 with 90 losses, Minnesota would have to go 41-33 the rest of the way.
Besides playing better in the second half, the Twins will hope a core of youngsters can continue their recent promising play in the second half.
Right fielder Max Kepler has batted .263 in the last two weeks to get a .238 average. Third baseman Miguel Sano has batted .243 with 14 home runs and 36 RBIs despite missing a month. Outfielder Eddie Rosario has batted .387 since returning from the minor leagues last year.
Production from those three along with good performances from young veterans Brian Dozier and Trevor Plouffe won't make up for an ugly start but will make a second half somewhat pleasant.
The baseball world has discovered the Twins are not as good as they were last year, but now people wonder if they are as bad as they have been for most of this season.
Minnesota has 12 weeks to make an unsightly season somewhat respectable and to see if it has the correct group of young players for future seasons.
"It's unfortunate the way the year started the first couple of months, but we're now showing the team we could've been," right-hander Tommy Milone said.
The Sports Xchange