The Minnesota Twins finally broke a four-game losing streak at Kauffman Stadium this weekend. After losing the first game, the team came back and won the final two games in Kansas City to start off a long road trip on a good note.
Minnesota lost the first game 7-2 thanks to a four-run first inning for the Royals. But they reversed that the next day and scored three runs in the first en route to a 7-2 victory. On Sunday, the Twins used some early runs and a Nelson Cruz solo shot to win the series with a 5-4 victory in another bullpen game for Minnesota.
Holy Injuries, Batman
The Twins have weathered some injuries so far this season. Jake Odorizzi began the season on the injured list, came back and was easing into the season. That was until Friday night when he made it through just three innings and gave up seven hits for five runs. On his last batter faced, he was hit with a line drive going more than 100 mph right in the ribs. He had to come out of the game and is now on the 10-day IL.
And things could be going better for the rest of Minnesota’s pitching staff. In addition to Odorizzi going to the 10-day IL on Saturday, reliever Zack Littell went to the 10-day for an elbow injury that forced him out of the game on Friday as well. And starter Homer Bailey, who has been on the IL for three weeks, was transferred to the 45-day IL with a bicep injury. It looks like he will be out much longer term than initially expected.
The picture doesn’t get any better for the Twins on the hitting side either. Josh Donaldson has been on the 10-day IL for a few weeks with a calf injury and hasn’t been cleared to play again just yet. On top of that, on Thursday, both starting catcher Mitch Garver and centerfielder Byron Buxton were put on the 10-day IL.
Minnesota is going to have to rely on some backup players to continue decent play until the starters can get healthy again, hopefully in time for the postseason, where the depth won’t be as necessary — but pure talent will be.
“Sky’s the Limit” for Miguel Sano
Sano was really struggling to start the season. Strikeouts and lineouts led him to an extended slump to start the season, and his batting average in August was as low as .111. He had an OPS of .504 at one point.
But beginning with the three-game series at Milwaukee, Sano has been on a tear with 15 hits and six RBI in his last 12 games. Although he only has two home runs in that span, he blasted one 458 feet to left field in Saturday’s game, nearly to the top of a museum in left field.
Aside from the home runs, Sano has been a doubles machine, with more than half of his hits over this span being doubles. He has eight on the season. Now that Minnesota is relying on many other bodies besides those it imagined starting most of the season, it’s imperative Sano’s hot streak becomes more of the norm while fellow sluggers Donaldson and Garver are out of the lineup.
As some players like Eddie Rosario and Cruz get occasional rest days now that Minnesota is in the stretch of 36 games in 37 days, each player will need to be that much more consistent because there are more holes in the lineup each day.
The next few series are big
Cleveland. Detroit. Chicago. Detroit.
The Twins will need to be sharp as their next four series are against their division, with two of the teams being serious contenders — each are within two games of first place in the Central. The good news for Minnesota is that eight of the games are against Detroit while three each are against Cleveland and Chicago.
These next few series will likely clarify the eventual outcome of the standings in the division before the playoffs begin.