On April 18, the Minnesota Twins were one game behind in the AL Central, the last time this year that they were not leading their division. On June 2, they were 11.5 games ahead of the Cleveland Indians. On August 9, the Tribe pulled even with them after a 6-2 victory.
On Friday night the Twins also hit their 226th home run, beating their all-time record set in 1963. Power is not a problem for the Bombas.
Again the starting pitcher put them in a hole. Again they rallied late. Again they came up short.
This is the first time the Twins have lost four games in a row all season long. Each has been a carbon copy of the other one, and now there are 46 games left. Cleveland is 41-16 since June 2; Minnesota is 30-28.
“Our pitchers are going to throw the ball better and we’re going to be fine,” said Rocco Baldelli, reiterating his confidence in his players and their preparation. “Truthfully, when you’re talking about really small sample sizes of just a few games, it’s easy to get emotional and talk about it because we’re here and play the games and we’re giving it our all and it’s not going our way.”
Minnesota has played a tougher schedule, and things will get easier after Cleveland leaves town. They haven’t had Byron Buxton recently and Nelson Cruz was just placed on the IL.
Friday night, starter Devin Smeltzer was the victim of balls finding their way out of the infield at times.
“It’s baseball. Couple ground balls that found holes. I thought I made some good pitches,” offered Smeltzer, who said he fell behind in counts because his curveball was not working until he punched out Francisco Lindor in what would become a five-run, fifth inning.
“There’s 162 games a year. If you come out and get more hyped for this game over Game 1, then I think you’re already beat.”
Now in order to win the AL Central they’re going to have to capitalize on the soft spots in their schedule, as the Indians did to chip away at their lead.
“They have been playing extremely well. We haven’t been playing up to our standard, that’s for sure,” said C.J. Cron. “If you told us we would be in the hunt in mid-August mostly everyone in here would take it.”
The race is on. June 2 seems like a long time ago now. So does April 18, for that matter.