Posted at 1:17 PM on July 9, 2007
by Steve Rudolph
After exploding for 32 runs against the White Sox on Friday, the Twins managed just four runs the rest of the weekend and stumbled into the All Star Break with a 45-43 record leaving them eight games out of first in the Central and seven back in the wild card chase.
That might be a better position than the team was in last year at this time when it trailed by 11, but the task looks far more daunting when you look at the lineup that’s been assembled for the stretch drive.
Star Tribune beat writer La Velle E. Neal, III had an interesting item yesterday where he stated that the Twins inexperienced pitching staff is as big of a problem as their erratic and often anemic lineup, which sometimes features Jason Tyner as the designated hitter. I love La Velle’s insights, but he’s wrong.
Sure a staff that relies on so many youngsters poses a huge hurdle. However, the fact that the Twins can’t field a consistently productive lineup is what will keep them out of postseason play.
Improving the Twins deficiencies at third base, DH and left field (or even two of those three) will not only result in more wins in the second half, it might help the young starters develop faster by removing some of the pressure to make every single pitch perfect.
Review some of the games that got away on this last road trip and you’ll find hitting was a bigger issue than inconsistent young pitching for this team. (It’s also worth noting that the team's most inconsistent starter has been veteran Carlos Silva.)
Scott Baker pitched a complete game gem in Detroit but lost 1-0. Boof Bonser kept the team in the game against future hall-of-famer Roger Clemens, but the Twins couldn’t put a run on teh board despite the fact that “The Rocket” was struggling early. Bonser also gave the team nice outing against the Sox on Saturday, but the club couldn’t touch Mark Buehrle and fell 3-1.
Despite having a younger staff than in recent years, the Twins formula for success hasn't changed and the proof of that can be found in the team’s game notes. When the Twins score four or more runs, they are 37-12. When they fail to plate four in a game, they are paltry 8-31 this season.
For there to be meaningful games to watch at the Dome in August and September, Terry Ryan needs to make a move and add the veteran bat or two that can help this team score four or more runs on a more consistent basis.