A loss we can't afford
This was a loss that the Twins couldn't really afford to have at this point in the season. With their bullpen on life support, the last thing this team needs is their offense to defibrilate. When one of their "shaky" starters goes 7.2 IP and gives up only 2ER, that should be enough to garner a win. But not last night. The Twins' bats were silent.
I got some criticism from ubelmann on SBG last night for complaining about the offense. Ubelmann was quick to point out that the Twins are 6th in the AL in offense. Now, granted, that's in the top half, but not nearly that impressive as I think he made it out to be. The fact is, last night was the 12th time the Twins have been shutout. They were only shutout 10 times last year.
While this offense has made great strides this year, I'm still noticing some games where they just can't get it together. Let's face it, Mauer is not where he was earlier. He's batting .353, which is much less than the .370/.380 he was putting up earlier. I think he's starting to wear down a bit. Morneau seems to be cooling a bit as well, with only 4 HR in August. Don't get me wrong, they're still having great seasons, but lately I'm not seeing it.
The other thing that gets me is that the Twins seem to be allergic to the Wild Card lead, or at least the offense is. They've had three relatively brief stints in the WC lead, and each has been followed by faltering offense. In July, after sweeping the White Sox to take a share of the WC lead (for a couple hours anyway, until the Yanks won that night), the Twins headed home to host the Tigers, and promptly lost the first two games. Granted, we did score runs, but we lost the first game 3-2, and the second game we couldn't get enough offense to overcome the Tigers, and we lost 8-6. Now these games weren't terribly offensively, but then we come to the second example.
In mid-August, the Twins took the last two games of a three-game series in Detroit. Afterward, we were 1/2 game up on the Sox. We then come home to host Toronto, a team that lost 10 of 14 before this series. The Twins rattle off a total of ONE run in the next three games. Meanwhile, the Sox sweep Detroit.
Now we see it again. After taking a 1.5 game lead over Chicago on Saturday, the Twins score a total of one run in the next two games, and subsequently lose their Wild Card lead, AGAIN. Worse, the Twins are losing these leads while they are at home, and the Twins have the best home record in baseball! You wouldn't know it by the second half though. The Twins are 4-3 in series at home since the All-Star break, while they are 6-0 on the road. 14-11 total at home, 15-4 total on the road.
It's getting to the point that I'd almost with the Twins stayed in WC contention, just so that they can play on the road more. That seems to be where they're winning.
Last night was a wasted opportunity. If the Twins are going to make the playoffs, they need to minimize the games they lose while having good pitching on the mound. Hopefully we can turn it around tonight and have a chance at a series win.