Sunday, August 24, 2008

8th Split: 12-4

Overall Record: 74-55
1st in AL Central by 0.5 games

Previous splits:

7-9; 10-6; 7-9; 7-9; 13-4; 11-5; 7-9

Anytime your team can rack up 10+ wins out of 16, you know things are going well. But I feel particularly good about this split, mainly because the losses were all so under control. 2 of the 4 losses were the result of unearned runs (the finale in KC and the Angels game last night), another was in 12 innings (but Delmon Young hit Mariano Rivera with his first blown save of the season, so that was almost like a win), and the last was by just 1 run in a well-pitched game.

There were a lot of well-pitched games in this split. Kevin Slowey allowed 3 ER in 18.2 IP in his 3 starts. Francisco Liriano allowed 3 ER in 17.2 IP. Glen Perkins allowed 4 ER in 22 IP - all 4 runs coming in one bad inning vs. the Mariners. Scott Baker allowed 7 ER in 20.1 IP in 3 starts. Nick Blackburn had 2 rough starts to go with 2 quality starts. Every member of the bullpen not named Matt Guerrier performed quite well. The Twins staff finished off the split allowing just 9 ER over the last 6 games.

The Twins have been clicking on the offensive side as well. Over the last 16 games, they've averaged just over 6 runs per game and have failed to score at least 4 runs only 3 times (each against top 5 pitching teams Oakland and LA. The Twins won 2 of those 3 games anyway), all while getting very little production from Justin Morneau (.220/.361/.322, HR, 10 RBI). Obviously, some other guys have picked up the slack, namely Delmon Young (4 HR, 12 RBI), Joe Mauer (.475 OBP), Brian Buscher (.528 SLG), Denard Span (15 RBI), Nick Punto (11 R) and Adam Everett (.303/.395/.394, HR, 10 RBI). That's right, folks - Adam Everett matched Morneau's run production. Talk about a balanced lineup!

Things have regressed to an alarming degree on the defensive side, however. Over the last 16 games, the Twins committed 14 errors, resulting in 8 unearned runs - their worst defensive performance since May. As I mentioned above, some of those errors directly resulted in 2 losses, otherwise this might have been a 14-2 split and the Twins would be building a little cushion in the division and wild card races. They're going to need to recover the defensive efficiency they had in July if they hope to keep winning road games against good pitching teams.

11 of the next 16 are on the road, and 8 of those are against those good pitching teams.

Bold prediction: The starting rotation will average about 7 IP per start over the next 16 games.

No comments: