5th in AL Central by 10 games
Things finally started going right for the Twins in this split. They outscored their opponents 76-57, and finished it on an 8-2 run. And yet, I can't help but be disappointed. According to their Pythagorean Record, that run differential should have resulted in 10 wins. Which loss should have been a win instead? Take your pick; 5 of these 7 recent losses were by 1 run. For me, it's the 1-0 loss to Cleveland. It's not just that it would have brought them a game closer to the top of the standings. It was the Indians' only win in their last 9 games. And it came against what was probably the weakest lineup Gardy has thrown out there all season, with only 3 regular MLB players penciled in (or 4, depending on how you feel about Alexi Casilla these days). Every win is crucial when trying to dig out of a hole this deep.
4.8 RPG is right around where I expected the offense to be this season. They scored 5 or more runs - a figure that was hopelessly unreachable in the early part of the season - 11 times. This was especially remarkable given the fact that injuries took away Denard Span, Jason Kubel and Jim Thome - the 3 best hitters on the team this year - for most of the last week and a half. And the offense rolled anyway. It just goes to show that anybody good enough to play at the Major League level can get hot for awhile. Even AAA scrubs like Rene Rivera and Matt Tolbert.
The Twins went just 7-4 in those games where they score 5+ runs, though, because the bullpen had a few more horror shows left in them at the end of May. 5 runs allowed in the 8th inning on the 27th, in addition to late inning runs allowed on the 29th, 30th and 31st. All of those losses were by just 1 run. Since then, the starters and the bullpen have buckled down, and still managed to get through the split with a very nice 3.04 ERA. They served up just 11 HR in the 16 games and have their BBs back under control at 2.2/9. The starters (other than Brian Duensing) have been working deep into the games, allowing Gardy to leave the shakiest members of the 'pen on the bench when crunch time comes.
The fielding continues to be a liability, unfortunately. 11 more E resulted in another 9 UER, raising their season totals to 44 E and 33 UER. Those rank them 12th and 13th in the AL, respectively. Some of those UER were the difference in 1-run losses, such as the kick in the corner from Delmon Young in the 1-0 loss at Cleveland I cited above. I can only hope that the defensive aspect of the game will tighten up soon as the hitting and pitching have.
On paper, things should continue to be favorable for the Twins as they head to the season's midpoint. They have finally lived out their exile, and are now in the midst of playing 31 of 41 games at home. Not that they've done particularly well at home so far this year. Also, by the end of the week, they should begin to see an avalanche of players coming off the DL. Though the replacement players have begun the turnaround, they can't be expected to keep it up for long. Besides, if the Twins keep winning 9 of 16 the rest of the season, they'll just make it to .500 by the end of the year. If they want to do better than that, they're going to have to keep the pedal down.
Bold prediction: Delmon Young catches fire.