Would you believe the Minnesota Twins have played better baseball since the trade deadline than they did before it?
Yes, even after trading away a handful of established, big-league players, the Twins have played .500 ball since the trade deadline (7-7) — a mark just slightly higher than what they did before all the commotion settled down on the afternoon of July 31.
The #MNTwins now have a higher winning percentage since the trade deadline (.500) than they did before it (.467)
— Brandon Warne (@Brandon_Warne) August 15, 2018
Part of it is that it feels like the cloud of disappointment over this team has dissipated a bit, not so much because the team now realizes it’s playing for pride and future jobs, but because the clubhouse has been infused with some younger talent who is hungry to show they belong at this level.
That includes guys like Tyler Austin, Gabriel Moya, Kohl Stewart and even Jake Cave, who hasn’t been up all that long when you really think about it.
But winning cures a lot of things, and the Twins moved back within seven games of .500 with a 6-4 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates at Target Field on Wednesday afternoon, capping a two-game sweep while grabbing the season series, 3-1.
Looking back on the season series gives a pretty solid indication of where the Twins have been this season.
The Twins fell to 2-2 with their loss to the Pirates in the opening game of the series at PNC Park. Lance Lynn gave up all five runs in the first inning, allowing a pair of homers — including a grand slam to Colin Moran — and finished the outing with six walks, which was a decent job of foreshadowing how his season went with the club before he was dealt to the Yankees, for the most part.
Brian Dozier homered in that game, and Eduardo Escobar doubled home Miguel Sano — two guys who barely played together this season after the latter was sent back to Fort Myers, while the former assumed his role as the everyday third baseman.
But it was some unlikely contributors who put the Twins on the right path on Wednesday.
Jose Berrios lasted just 3.2 innings before getting the gate from manager Paul Molitor. The young righty allowed seven hits and four runs (three earned) — including a homer to designated hitter Elias Diaz — and needed 86 pitches to record just 11 outs.
But like it did for Jake Odorizzi the night before, the Twins bullpen proved to be up to the task. Oliver Drake, Moya, Tyler Duffey, Taylor Rogers and Trevor Hildenberger combined for 5.1 shutout innings, fanning four batters with two walks and five hits allowed while allowing the offense to claw back for the second day in a row as well.
The offensive heroes in this one couldn’t have been more different from the PNC series, either. Bobby Wilson had a pair of hits, including a heat-seeking homer to left field off Pirates reliever Keone Kela that gave the Twins some breathing room and capped the scoring on the day.
Wilson was catching at Triple-A Rochester when the teams met in April.
Logan Forsythe, who was just starting a difficult season with the Los Angeles Dodgers when the Twins and Pirates met earlier in the season, also kept his hot stretch going. Forsythe went 2-for-3 with a pair of singles, and drove in half of the team’s six runs while scoring another as well.
Forsythe’s two-run single in the sixth off Edgar Santana gave the Twins the lead, and took away from an otherwise respectable day from Chris Archer, who was responsible for one of the runs that scored on the play.
The other was unearned due to an error by Adam Frazier earlier in the inning in center field.
Archer, who was seeing the Twins for the second time in less than a month, fanned seven batters and walked none, but lasted just five innings as his pitch count approached 100 in the sixth inning.
Forsythe — Archer’s former teammate in Tampa Bay — meanwhile is hitting an absurd .386/.449/.432 since coming over to the Twins, and has raised his season numbers immensely after such a slow start to his year.
It’s possible he could play his way into next year’s plans for the Twins, but it’s too early to think about that.
Other parts of the offense clicked as well. Jorge Polanco rolled an RBI single to right field, Miguel Sano added his 14th double of the season and Max Kepler, who went 1-for-4, added his 25th double of the season.
In all, it was a complete team effort, with only Joe Mauer and Ehire Adrianza being held hitless among Twins starters.
Up next is another series with the Detroit Tigers. Thursday’s game is at 7:10 p.m., and will pit Francisco Liriano against Ervin Santana with both hurlers facing the same team they saw last time out.
- Forsythe has six multi-hit games since joining the Twins, and had eight all year with the Dodgers.
- Jorge Polanco has reached safely in 18 of the last 21 games.
- The Twins finished the year 8-20 in interleague action.
- Wilson has nearly as many RBIs (17) as hits (23) this season.