Thursday, August 13, 2009

7th Split: 7-9

Overall Record: 55-58
3rd in AL Central, 4 games back

Other splits: 7-9, 8-8, 9-7, 8-8, 9-8, 7-9

The Twins' season of mediocrity continues. It's been 10 games since Orlando Cabrera joined the team at the trade deadline, and Carl Pavano has has arrived to bolster the rotation as well. But neither new face has been enough to shake the Twins out of their doldrums. They are 3-7 so far in August, and failed to gain any ground in the division despite the continued strugges of their rivals.

The culprit for the Twins' troubles this split isn't hard to identify. They averaged 5.8 R of offense over their past 16 games. That's pretty robust run support for a team with a losing record. Lest you think that they did all of their scoring in their wins, the Twins actually averaged 4.8 R/game in their 9 losses. They lost 6 games in which they scored 5 or more runs. When 5 R aren't enough to get you wins, you know you're not pitching.

In fact, the trouble with this last stretch was that the Twins did all of their pitching in their wins. The staff surrendered just 11 R in their 7 wins, but 88 in their 9 losses. Nearly 10 runs a game! Never in the Gardy/Rick Anderson era have I witnessed such an appalling stretch of pitching futility. Had the Twins gotten merely league-average pitching over this split (4.43 ERA), they would have surely won all 3 games in Detroit last weekend and been no worse than tied with the Tigers and White Sox at the top of the standings. League averaging pitching now sounds like a sweet dream.

That's because the offense is 4th in the AL in scoring and 5th in OPS since the All-Star Break. The defense continues to slide a bit, committing 10 more errors in this split for a season total of 50. But they're still 2nd in the league with just 30 unearned runs allowed, so it hasn't hurt them too badly. If the Twins are going to stay in the race, they'll need to sustain the production they've gotten out of their big hitters while reverting to the sort of pitching and defense they produced in the first half. That's not so much to ask, is it?

Bold Prediction: The Twins' staff ERA for the next split will be under 5.00.

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