After losing the final two games to Cleveland, the Minnesota Twins are on a five-game losing streak after losing both games of a doubleheader on Saturday and the finale on Sunday against Detroit.
The first game pushed the Twins out of first place in the AL Central — a rare Randy Dobnak loss in an 8-2 rout. The second game was a bullpen game for Minnesota. Tyler Duffey recorded the loss, and only he and Trevor May gave up runs in the Tigers 4-2 win. The third game was more of the same for the Twins offense, losing 3-2.
Offense Still Struggling
Minnesota’s former offensive output from 2019 has come to a screeching halt in the last few weeks. While the division-rival Chicago White Sox lead all of Major League Baseball in OPS at 821, Minnesota sits at 22nd in baseball with a .727 team OPS.
Overall, the team’s batting average for the season sits at .240, 19th best in MLB, and Minnesota simply isn’t scoring runs lately. While the team has been pitching well, they are 8-7 in their last 15 games. During that span the Twins have averaged 3.6 runs per game.
Beyond the individual success of Nelson Cruz and Miguel Sano lately, much of the roster has struggled at the plate. Alex Avila, signed to the team to be the backup to Mitch Garver, has been thrust into a starting role now with Garver on the IL and has batted .171 this season with an OPS of .627.
Jake Cave, who has filled the centerfield role while Byron Buxton is on the IL, is batting .197 with an OPS of .531. And the regression of Max Kepler, Marwin Gonzalez and Luis Arraez, while probable after last season’s extraordinary success, has added up to a less potent Twins offense this season.
On top of this, the injuries have tested Minnesota’s bench depth this season. The team’s best options are to get some of their proven hitters out of slumps while also getting most of the full roster back to health before the postseason that is all but a certainty for this Twins club.
Dobnak Falters, Maeda Gives up Home Runs
The Twins two most reliable pitchers so far this season struggled in Detroit.
Dobnak showed his first real weakness in his surprising run as the Twins’ top starter so far in 2020. In Saturday’s 8-2 loss to kick off the doubleheader, Dobnak gave up 12 hits for six runs, while walking two in 4 1/3 innings pitched. Thanks doubleheaders consisting of seven inning games this season, Minnesota didn’t need to get through a long end of the game with relievers. Lewis Thorpe finished the game and the Twins’ bullpen was ready for the next game.
Dobnak faced 24 batters on his 73 pitches, and his ERA increased to 3.12 after the loss in Detroit.
On the other hand the Twins’ next best starter in 2020, Kenta Maeda, had an opportunity to salvage the series and get a win before Minnesota left Detroit. While Maeda’s loss isn’t due to a particularly poor outing, lack of run support was the undoing in Sunday’s loss.
Maeda pitched six innings and gave up six hits, while striking out eight. He gave up three runs and two homers, however, which proved to be enough for the Tigers to beat Minnesota for the third consecutive game.
The Upcoming Series are vital in a tight AL Central
Like it or not, the season more than halfway over. There is only one more month left in the regular season, and that means the Twins, need to string together wins very soon. They no longer in first place in the AL Central.
Minnesota comes home to face the Chicago White Sox and the Tigers next week. Each game is becoming increasingly more important, as the race for the Central title between Minnesota, Cleveland and Chicago will come down to the wire at the end of September.